How does a sleep apnea patient fly with a CPAP machine?

I have obstructive sleep apnea, and use a CPAP device. I’m going on a business trip which requires a red-eye flight. I’m reluctant to go as I can’t imagine how I carry my machine and use it in flight. What are my options in this scenario?

– Harold in Massachusetts


Flying with your CPAP machine can be a challenge, despite the fact that it is done regularly. Obviously, it has to be a carry-on item. It will need to be scanned and checked by a TSA agent. You do risk contamination of your device as the bins at security don’t tend to be sterile, so be sure to bring wipes to clean it off after it’s checked. You have to make sure there’s an outlet next to your seat and that you have the appropriate adapter. Also, you’ll need to have sterile or distilled water for your machine, and it might be hard without a prescription from your doctor to get that through security (yes, they can write a Rx for distilled water in a pharmaceutical grade bottle).

An easier option for sleep apnea patients who frequently travel is an oral appliance, instead of a CPAP. No mask, no hoses, and no distilled water. In fact, most patients, even without travel, prefer the comfort and ease of an oral appliance over a CPAP. However, if you have to travel with your CPAP, with a few extra preparations you and your machine can easily be accommodated. By checking the TSA website you can avoid any last minute surprises when going through the security checkpoint with your CPAP machine.

This post is sponsored by Phoenix dentist Chal Esthetic and Reconstructive Dentistry.

Contact Us