Traveling with CPAP and Other Medical Devices

Wheelchair patient attended to by nurseMore and more, I get this question about traveling with medical devices. The most common one is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). Other common questions are traveling with a scooter, wheelchair, oxygen, service animal, walker and crutches.

In the United States, travel with medical devices is never considered as part of your limitation on baggage checked or carried. So if you need that extra piece, you will not be charged. But there are rules that must be adhered to and it is up to you to disclose your medical devices at least 2 days prior to travel for many items, and in some cases, you should contact them before you even book a ticket..

Take electric scooters or wheelchairs for example. Airlines need to know specifics on the devices ahead of time. Typically, they want to know the size and weight, and whether the batteries are sealed or not. Call your travel agent or airline at least 48 hours before departure

Supplemental oxygen is considered hazardous cargo and typically is not allowed on the airplane either on board or in the cargo hold. Airline policy varies on this. If you require supplemental oxygen, you should contact your travel agent or airline carrier before you book a flight.

CPAP machines are medical devices that allow persons to avoid sleep apnea. They might be used on long haul flights for sleeping, but most times are just carried to a destination to allow for restful sleep overnight. If you intend to use a CPAP on the flight, you will likely want to bring your own battery operated power supply. While many airlines now have power outlets for use in flight, they may not be suitable for the power requirements of your CPAP. Check with your agent or the airline.

Canes and other assisted walking devices are allowed on board, but it is best to notify your agent or the airline ahead of time. If you need wheelchair assistance, it is best to order ahead as well.

Keep in mind that traveling outside of the United States that countries may not be as accommodating to persons with disabilities. It is always best to check on your specific needs before you travel. We can help with that.

With proper preparation, those with medical devices or physical limitations can explore the world.