Practical Tips On Travelling with Your CPAP Machine on an Airplane

Last Updated on 2 years

Are you considering traveling with your CPAP Machine? With the dynamic nature of modern technology, why should you be confined at home merely for being a CPAP user? There’s absolutely no reason!

Actually, you can take summer vacations and visit people who live far away. You shouldn’t worry about how to carry your CPAP equipment. 

Make a point of contacting your airline to determine whether there are any restrictions for passengers who wish to carry such equipment (note that very few airlines don’t permit passengers to use the CPAP during the flight). 

If the airline allows it, do the following before traveling: 

Check the mask’s treatment pressure, size, and type. Ensure you have the health insurance information on hand. 

The same applies to general practitioner information.

What to Do Before Flying with Your CPAP:

Before flying, do the following:

  • Pack the CPAP in its case
  • Pick an appropriate seat with access to power (in case you need to use the CPAP during the flight)
  • Check the airline’s phone number and website (for assisted device policy)
  • Download and keep the FAA Compliance letter
  • Check the airport security page ( to confirm the CPAP machine process)
  • Review your airline’s policies on the CPAP machine in-flight policies  
  • Have a checklist of documents to carry
  • For security purposes, remove the CPAP from the rest of the luggage
  • Turn the humidifier off; turn on the airplane mode (if your machine has it)

Why You Must Carry the CPAP Cleaning Equipment:

You might ask yourself whether you need to bring your CPAP cleaning supplies when traveling. The answer is: Yes! 

Keep in mind that the CPAP machine should be cleaned every day. As for the reusable filters, mask, hose, and chamber, these should be cleaned once a week. Consider bringing supplies for these as well.

Are you looking for travel-friendly cleaning items? Consider using the CPAP mask and hose soap. You may also consider using the travel CPAP mask wipes.

Remember this:  It’s a fantastic idea to purchase a travel CPAP cleaner. This will always keep your machine clean. Fortunately, CPAP cleaners have recently become relatively compact and portable. Most of them can do a maximum of 10 cleaning cycles for every battery charge.  So, think about this- it will really help.

How to Travel With Distilled Water for Your CPAP   

Are you traveling to a place you don’t trust the water supply? Why not use distilled water in the humidifier? Keep this in mind: Any water that’s unsafe for drinking is likely unsafe to use with your CPAP humidifier. It’s much safer to use distilled water- it limits your exposure to potentially harmful substances.                              

You probably heard about the news from Neti pots, Louisiana. Recently, there were reports of fatal parasite infections on the brain. Apparently, this arose from the use of tap water. Interestingly, those using CPAP humidifiers (within Louisiana) never reported a problem.

Can You Pack Distilled Water in Your luggage or Carry On?

Yes, you can pack 3.4 ounces of distilled water in your carry-on luggage. If you have a checked bag, you’re allowed to carry an unlimited quantity of distilled water. 

Remember: It’s recommended to clean your CPAP mask with distilled water since it enhances your health and prevents damage to the device. 

Here’s a caution: It might be a challenge to find distilled water out there. Hence, always fill the humidifier with distilled water only.

Tips for Using the CPAP In-flight

Since a CPAP machine is- essentially- a medical device, you should always be allowed to use it during your flight. Just make sure it’s FAA-approved. Also, ensure you’ve followed the airline’s policies. 

Let’s discuss a few relevant policies of the major airlines:

    • United: Are you planning to use the CPAP inside a United Airlines plane? You must give a minimum of 48 hours’ notice to the airline. Keep the information on the manufacturer ready so you can prove to the airline it meets the FAA standards.
    • Delta: This airline provides a list (on their website) of all approved CPAP devices. Such devices may be used without any medical approval. If you’re traveling with your devices, you’ll need a battery life that has 150% power beyond what the flight time specifies.
    • American Airlines: The airline asks customers to contact their Special Assistance desk 48 hours in advance to confirm their CPAP machine’s approval. 
    • Jet Blue:  There are no restrictions on using your CPAP machines on Jet Blue flights. You only need to observe the FAA and TSA regulations. For instance, you should pack the device away during landing.
    • Southwest:  The airline encourages passengers to carry their CPAP device; you only need to keep it protected in flight. As long as you meet the FAA and TSA regulations, you can use it in-flight.

Note that all US airlines generally allow you to use the CPAP during flight. Why? This is considered a medical device. 

In case you’re flying an international airline, call the authorities at least 48 hours in advance. Also, ask for their specific policies.

TSA Regulations on CPAP Air Travel

What does TSA say on CPAP air travel? 

Note the following:

The Transport Security Administration (TSA) allows air travel with CPAP machines. TSA is the relevant agency that manages the US travel industry security.  As such, TSA warmly encourages patients with sleep apnea to carry their CPAP equipment when traveling.

Here’s what the agency says:

Our officers know about CPAP machines. They actually see them many times every day”- TSA blog team air travel guidelines (2011 article).

TSA recommends bringing this device on the plane. Do this as a carry-on. Why? If you check it and your luggage is lost, you won’t have the machine with you. The TSA blog clearly explains how to carry this equipment onto the plane:

Consider this:

“The CPAP machine should come out of the case. Before being put through the X-ray, you should place it in the bin. You may, however, leave the facemask and its tubing inside the case.”

“If you prefer it, put your machine in a clear plastic bag and put it back into the bin. Remember that your machine may need to pass through an Explosive Trace Detection test after it has been X-rayed.” 

It’s a great idea to get to the airport early enough so that you can have everything done on time. Keep in mind that you usually need to be there 2 hours earlier (for domestic flights) and 3 hours earlier (for international flights).

Also, remember that ResMed CPAP devices can run on the 400Hz power supply on most aircraft. This means it can’t be affected by the airport security’s X-ray scanners.


As the saying goes, “knowledge is power!” This is particularly practica if you want to live your life as you wish. 

Apply the tips above to have a fantastic flight while carrying the life-saving CPAP machine and its accessories. Observe the relevant TSA ad FAA regulations, and you’ll travel safely and enjoy your flight.

5 thoughts on “Practical Tips On Travelling with Your CPAP Machine on an Airplane”

  1. This information is very useful, they usually stop me at security checks everytime they see me with water. I have a portable CPAP machine which aids my sleep apnea problems. I usually place all my cleaning stuff in the luggage to avoid further inconvenience during inspections. Great article!

    1. Bradley, what’s the largest volume of distilled water you have taken through TSA? I can get an RX for it and have it filled at a grocery store pharmacy , but that will be a gallon jug. I can also buy 10 oz bottles online, but the pharmacy won’t put an Rx label on those since I would get them through Amazon.

    1. Virginia Eaves

      I doubt racism had anything to do with it. Any liquid other than prescription or medicine is limited to 100 ml. I have a CPAP and just buy distilled water at my destination. You may also either pack it in checked luggage or freeze it in a water bottle. I have taken a frozen water bottle without a problem for over a decade on domestic flights. If any melts, just drink it or pour that part out. Have a good trip.

  2. You can carry more than the indicated 3.4 oz of Distilled Water in your carry-on in the USA. I travel with two 24 oz containers marked as “Distilled Water for CPAP” and have never had a problem. TSA considers the Distilled Water as a Medical Liquid. It will be tested at check-in, but it is worth the hassle to have a few days of distilled water available.

    Also, the CPAP unit does NOT COUNT as a carry-on. You can have a Carry-on, a Personal Item, AND your CPAP.

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