Tips for flying with CPAP?

General Discussion on any topic relating to CPAP and/or Sleep Apnea.
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janeysmom
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Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by janeysmom » Sat May 15, 2010 6:19 am

On Monday I am flying with my machine for the first time. I understand I can take it on the plane with me. But am I correct in understanding that I need to put bottles of the distilled water in my check in bag and not put them in my bags that I bring through security? Will I have to remove the machine etc from the bag as I go through security like I do with my laptop? Any other tips on how to best travel with it, would be really helpful. I am comfortable using it in an hotel as I have had to do that with a couple of local overnight hotel stays. Thanks!!!
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TheTwinsMom1
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Re: Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by TheTwinsMom1 » Sat May 15, 2010 7:38 am

I just flew with mine to Mexico a couple of weeks back.

Yes, you have to remove it from this case to go through security. They will run it through the x-ray machine and then swab it also. I always asked them to put on clean gloves before handling it and they were fine with that. I would check your distilled water in your luggage. All the TSA officers knew what a cpap was and handled mine with respect.
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bearded_two
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Re: Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by bearded_two » Sat May 15, 2010 8:50 am

You don't need to carry distilled water with you. It is fine to use tap or bottled water (not mineral water) for a few nights; cleaning with vinegar will remove any small amounts of deposits that may happen. It is not necessary to boil the water, although if you have the facilities to boil water and the tap water smells strongly of chlorine, bringing it to a boil and letting it cool will remove the chlorine smell.

erbelady
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Re: Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by erbelady » Sat May 15, 2010 3:08 pm

I fly at least once a month with my machine. Yes, you have to take it out of the bag so it can be swabbed after going through xray. Just take it out when you take off your shoes, watch, etc. You do not have to worry about your hose or anything like that. Just the machine. I also agree with not taking the distilled water. Just used bottled water or filtered. Be sure you use fresh water each night. It will be fine. I have been gone as long as 2 weeks at a time and did not use distilled one time and my humidifier was fine. Also, you do not have to count your machine as a carry on. TSA rules state that it does not have to be counted as one of your carry on bags.

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Captain_Midnight
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Re: Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by Captain_Midnight » Sat May 15, 2010 3:46 pm

I always put my machine in a clean plastic grocery bag so it goes through the x-ray conveyor without contacting the truly filthy surfaces that touch a zillion shoe bottoms per day. I always ask the TSA checker to use clean gloves when they test the machine, and explain that it's a somewhat sanitary machine, and I want to keep it that way. I toss the bag after the inspection. Machine goes into carry case which in turn goes into backpack.

If in a hotel room, I pack up the unit and put it away each morning. Who knows what the chambermaids will be spraying, or handling? (I also happened to see a tiny, cute little lizard on the hotel night stand a few weeks ago.) I prefer to err on the side of cleanliness, especially when traveling.

Water? I rarely use humidification, and never when traveling. That said, (and agreeing with an above post) don't pack water, use tap water or buy water at your destination if you choose to humidify.

Earlier this year, I was stranded for one night at a hub airport due to snow (in Texas!). Another passenger in the same predicament happened to mention that he had packed his cpap in his checked baggage (which was not available to passengers). Big lesson there. My lesson, on a similar note, involved packing my cell phone charger in checked baggage, but that's a different topic.

.

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patdart
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Re: Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by patdart » Sat May 15, 2010 4:38 pm

erbelady wrote:I fly at least once a month with my machine. Yes, you have to take it out of the bag so it can be swabbed after going through xray. Just take it out when you take off your shoes, watch, etc. You do not have to worry about your hose or anything like that. Just the machine. I also agree with not taking the distilled water. Just used bottled water or filtered. Be sure you use fresh water each night. It will be fine. I have been gone as long as 2 weeks at a time and did not use distilled one time and my humidifier was fine. Also, you do not have to count your machine as a carry on. TSA rules state that it does not have to be counted as one of your carry on bags.
I don't have to use anything but tap water and that's fine for a few days but the good news is that I'm thrilled to learn that I don't have to have it counted as one of my carry on bags. Are we sure of that? That's fantastic news!

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LinkC
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Re: Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by LinkC » Sat May 15, 2010 5:31 pm

Yes, it's true...with an important warning. The bag can ONLY contain medical equipment. Stick your toothbrush in with it and it's no longer exempted.

(You would likely be allowed to toss your toothbrush...but the principle stands.) It's exempted to carry only your medical equipment and supplies.

It's a good idea to have a "Medical Equipment" tag on your bag. There used to be one for free d/l but the link isn't working for me. They can also be purchased. At a minimum have your name, address and CELL NUMBER on the bag in case you get separated.

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brazospearl
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Re: Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by brazospearl » Sat May 15, 2010 5:35 pm

LinkC, honey,
I have a question about what counts as "medical equipment." Certainly, the machine and hose. What about the mask, headgear, surge protector, hose cover, nasal irrigator? Can I put my prescription meds in there, too? Just curious how to pack all this up for my big excursion this summer.

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LinkC
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Re: Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by LinkC » Sat May 15, 2010 5:43 pm

I doubt they'd have a problem with any of those. To me, those are legitimate medical items. I carry mask, wipes, surge prot and extension cord in mine.

I had to toss a bottle of distilled water once...I think the fact it wasn't sealed was the determining factor. But I'm sure makeup, toiletries, etc would NOT get thru.

I wouldn't take the chance with anything you can't part with...

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brazospearl
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Re: Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by brazospearl » Sat May 15, 2010 6:05 pm

Thanks, LinkC, that's exactly what I needed to know. The ancillary items for the CPAP take up a lot of space, luggage-wise, and I'm glad to hear that items associated with it have passed inspection by the agents in charge of these matters. It's always a crapshoot to try to figure out if what you and I (and other fairly normal people) are thinking along the same lines as the gov't types. Thanks for the help!

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sleeplessinaz
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Re: Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by sleeplessinaz » Mon May 17, 2010 7:56 pm

Hi--I just flew with mine. All above is true except I had my daily meds in there AND most of my make up--no one at the airport made me toss anything out so you can pack other personal items inside of it and they will let it go I guess if it is small.
Oh and I had an extra pair of panties in there too---hey--you never know!! LOL!
Carrie

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Redeye
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Re: Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by Redeye » Tue May 18, 2010 11:38 am

I will be travelling for the first time with my cpap in a few weeks. I'm sure I will probably get flamed a bit but I will always make every attempt to use distilled water in my humidifier and would only go to tap in a dire emergency. Why? I don't want to inhale chlorine gas all night and whatever else might be in there! Whatever is in that water will be heated and results added to the air pumping in to you. Just because it's safe to drink does not mean that, evaporated, it's safe to breathe. Tons of people ignore the suggestion to use distilled water, even my brother who has been on cpap for much longer than me but I'm not ready to try that yet. I don't plan to travel with it, but I sure do plan to buy it at my destination. Now I think I will go and inhale some cigarette smoke! Wow, I think I am a hypochondriac...no, I mean a hiporcrit. I also don't know how to spell very well.

Thanks is great that a TSA agent let through makeup and panties in their medical supply bag, but I wouldn't count on that. The person above who specified the rules is on the money. They all act a bit different and it depends on how strct they are feeling at the time.

Thanks.

Redeye

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sleepyinstlouis
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Re: Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by sleepyinstlouis » Tue May 18, 2010 10:59 pm

I'm going to be traveling next Wednesday out to bury my mom. I got a note from the sleep doctor that I had medical equipment and that it must travel with me. I'm going on American Airlines, so I'm hoping they'll be fine. Do they ask when you check in at the gate if you need to preboard so you can stow your equipment, or just get on when your row is called and hope that you can find room in the overhead bin or under the seat?

I also made my own medical equipment luggage tag with Microsoft Word since the one that was available via mindspring is no longer available. It has my name and address on the front with a medical symbol on the front and on the back is the following: "Per TSA guidelines for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions, this CPAP machine is medical equipment and as such should not be counted again the carry on limit. This patient has written documentation from her physician describing the nature of her medical condition and is available upon request."

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Re: Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by RangerFan » Thu May 20, 2010 8:18 pm

We travel to Europe each year. My wife only feels comfortable using distilled water. Unfortunately, Distilled water is very hard to find in Europe (Italy, Ireland, Greece, Portugal, France). I have never seen any. We always buy 2 Gallons (to last two weeks). We keep water sealed in original container. It has gotten harder to bring CPAP and 2 gallons of water in carry-on.

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janeysmom
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Re: Tips for flying with CPAP?

Post by janeysmom » Fri May 21, 2010 1:49 pm

Thanks everyone for your tips and ideas. I just returned from my trip - a short one to Vegas - and the following is report on taking it on the plane and hotel.

After reading many tips on traveling, I decided to pack the machine, hose, and mask in the bag given to me but to get a backpack. I ended up purchasing a LowePro CompuDayPack and used it to carry not only my machine and supplies, but also reading material, snacks and sunglasses. The machine stored nicely in the bottom part made for camera equipment and the then the rest of the CPAP stuff went in one of the compartments above it. I did take distilled water with me. I put it into a 16.9 oz used water bottle, then placed it into a ziploc bag and put it into my check in luggage.

Once I got up to the security area, I took it out of my backpack and placed into the bins. On the way out there, the TSA agent automatically put on new gloves, while the TSA agent on the way back did not. After it was x-rayed, they swabbed it and tested it for chemicals. I was quite nervous going the way out because I had not experienced taking the machine on the plane. But after that, I realized it was an easy process and very similar to taking my laptop with me on a flight.

I had taken my machine on a couple overnight trips, so I knew what to do when I got the room. After we checked in, I made sure to set it up right away. That way when we got back later that day and I was tired from walking around, I did not have to worry about getting everything set up. Fortunately CPAP machines are light and easy to travel with and set up. I've learned that having the machine is much better than not having it. So for those who are traveling find a good way to carry it, as I found using the back pack. No one questioned me on whether it was a medical device because they have seen so many. And since I had it in a backpack and then my purse, I did not worry about being over the carry on limit.

Thanks again!
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