TRAVELING WITH SLEEP APNEA
With the annual Spring Break vacations right around the corner, the staff at the Alaska Sleep Clinic sees an influx of patients coming in asking questions such as “how do I travel when I have sleep apnea?”
Many of our patients admit they do not travel with their CPAP machine. Patients shouldn’t let travel get in the way of their therapy. Today with the increase of technology in the sleep medicine world our sleep apnea patients can now travel with ease.
From smaller therapy machines, to more versatile accessories, and updated FAA regulations sleep apnea shouldn’t hinder your travel plans any longer.
Below are 3 tips to help make travel with sleep apnea a breeze:
1. PACK AS A CARRY ON
CPAP machines are considered medical devices covered under the American's with Disabilities Act and do not count as one of your carry-on items.
It's also a good idea to take your machine on the plane with you in the event that your luggage gets lost or damaged in transit.
Use a sturdy carrying case, like the Philips PAP Travel Briefcase, with multiple compartments to help organize and protect your machine and accessories.
There are small travel specific CPAP machines that are even more convenient and easy to carry on board. If you are a frequent flyer, it may be worth the money to purchase a smaller secondary machine.
The TSA recommends labeling your carrying case with a medical equipment luggage tag, but this is not mandatory.
You can download tags templates here and laminate them on your own or you can purchase a laminated tag from a qualified online retailer.
Keep your machine clean by placing it in a clear plastic bag before entering the TSA security checkpoints. Your machine may need to be swabbed by an agent to check for explosives residue. If this is the case, you can ask that the agent use a fresh pair of gloves and an unused swab.
2. BRING YOUR PRESCRIPTION
It is recommended by the TSA to have your prescription and/or note of medical necessity from your doctor available when traveling with your machine.
This will expedite the security process in case there are any questions regarding your machine. This tip is especially handy when traveling internationally.
In the event that your machine breaks down or you need additional supplies while traveling a copy of your prescription will help you tremendously.
A legitimate Durable Medical Supplier is not supposed to sell CPAP machines without an authorized prescription. So, to avoid problems with purchasing supplemental equipment have that prescription ready and available.
3. CHECK WITH YOUR AIRLINES
Become familiar with your airline carrier’s policy regarding CPAP use during your flight. Many airlines will allow machines to be in used in flight but can have different restrictions regarding humidifiers and other accessories.
If you plan on using your sleep apnea machine during the flight, check for power outlet availability on the plane. On most airlines you will need to sit in first class or business class to have access to the power outlets. If there are not any power outlets where you are seated make sure your machine’s battery is fully charged.
For FAA and Airline Carrier regulations concerning on board machine use and power supply available click the links below:
Delta Airlines Located under special concerns-->assistive devices
No one on the plane’s crew can refuse you from using your CPAP machine onbaord. If you find this is the case, you can file a complaint with the Department of Transportation. Their contact information is:
Aviation Consumer Protection Division
U.S. Department of Transportation
Room 4107, C-75
Washington, DC 20590.
Your sleep apnea shouldn’t hinder your travel plans. Don't leave your machine at home and allow yourself to suffer at night while on your vacation. Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, you want to be at your best, and you're not going to get there if you're losing sleep.
If you need any additional information on traveling with a CPAP machine, or would like to purchase a travel specific CPAP machine, feel free to contact the Alaska Sleep Clinic.