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Traveling with a CPAP

If there is anyone here like me who must travel with a CPAP, are you able to pack Rick style in just one carry on bag? If so, how do you fit everything in? My CPAP along with the power supply and cord, mask and tubing, and extension cord takes up a lot of space. If you use a particularly compact unit, please tell me the brand name and model name/number so that I can check it out.

Posted by
126 posts

G’Day Marc,
I use a ResMed CPAP device, it’s the S9 Elite model. I leave the humidifier at home when travelling which means I can take a smaller power supply with me. This model has a larger power supply when using the humidifier. The device runs on 100-240V, 50-60Hz and can run on board a plane
The device weighs 810Gms (about 30 ounces) and measures 153x140x86 mms (6 x 5 ½ x 3 ½ inches). I pack the CPAP, mask, hose and power supply all separately. The hose runs around the outside of the bag, the rest of the bits are just stuffed in where they can go.
I also carry the user guide (some customs/security staff aren’t familiar with CPAP devices) and if you want you can also download some compliance letters from the ResMed site below – look under Service & Support/FAQs/Travel .

This is the link to the Australian & New Zealand site, there’s a link on it to change location for where you live.

Happy travels.

Posted by
4141 posts

My husband travels with a regular CPAP including the water chamber. It is a medical device and not counted as a carry-on. i.e. at least on Delta, he can take his RS backpack, a messenger bag AND the CPAP.

Whether packed inside something else or separate, the TSA may want to look at it and all its parts. Leaving Tucson, no one bothered. Leaving Atlanta, they checked it thoroughly, but there were no problems. There were no problems coming home either.

We had no difficulty finding water for it. The bigger issue was making sure that there was a plug near the head of the bed for him to use. We bought a multi-receptacle 220 extension cord in Belgium to use for it when there was no easily accessible wall plug. You can take a regular US extension cord, too. The plug adapter will just be attached to a different plug.

You may find more CPAP answers under "Technology" or "General Europe."

Posted by
45 posts


I have used a CPAP machine for the past ten years and always travel with it. I am on my second machine, having worn out my first one. I note they are getting smaller and the power supply is now a separate item.

I have made two trips to Europe with my CPAP. I like to pack it separately as Lo suggests as the TSA or other airport security may want to inspect it. Sometimes they check it sometimes they do not. I have a Respironics Remstar Pro. It came with a travel case. The travel case will fit into a simple canvas “boat bag” that hangs off my wheeled carryon. The boat bag doubles as a grocery bag when we visit the grocery store.

I have considered trying to put it in my carryon, but came to the conclusion that the exercise was not worth the trouble and any added convenience was minimal. CPAP machines are not inexpensive. Since my health care insurance paid for and specified mine, I am not in a mind to purchase a special compact one for the sole purpose of travel. If you are adamant on packing it in your one bag carryon, I know there are people who leave the humidifier home and pack it as Baz suggests. I hate to do that in case the airline would require me to check the bag. I travel with the wheeled carryon, a small daypack, and the CPAP machine. It all makes it into the cabin. The CPAP and my wheeled carryon go into the overhead compartment and the daypack goes under the seat.

Since the CPAP is a medical device, it the airlines allow it in the cabin as an additional carryon that does not count toward your carryon allowance. Mine is even embossed with the words “medical device” directly on the machine and includes a sticker from the hospital supply firm. You may need to advise the airline that you will be traveling with the CPAP. So, check their rules and send them an email.

The only problem I have encountered is finding an electrical outlet close to the bed. I carry an eight foot extension cord in my CPAP case when coupled with the machine’s cord is sufficient to get just about anywhere in the small European hotel rooms. I also carry a three into one adapter plug. Sometimes the electrical connections are scarce in European hotel rooms and you will need to plug many things into the wall outlet in addition to your CPAP. I like to charge my cell phone and keep it next to the bed. The only additional thing you need is the adapter to fit the plug into the European outlet.

I understand the need to pack light, safe, and smart. However, I think CPAP users who travel are doomed to carrying an additional bag until technology allows us to do otherwise. You posed a good question. We would appreciate knowing what you find in your research and what your ultimate decision may be.

Posted by
103 posts

Thanks for the replies! Up to now, I've traveled almost exactly the same way that Paul does. I even have the same machine with the same travel bag. I travel with an extension cord, but mine is 12 feet long which was how long a cord I needed recently on a cruise ship to reach from the only electrical outlet in the stateroom (on the desk) to the bedside table diagonally across the room. I was just hoping that someone might have a suggestion for how I could avoid needing to manage that extra bag. I also wonder if European economy airlines have the same exception for an additional small bag for medical equipment that American airlines do.

Posted by
4141 posts

The European airlines, economy or not, may have different requirements. If you are flying one, you can usually find that information on their website. If not, an email or call to them will answer your question about it. So far, the ones I have contacted consider it a medical device and it is allowed in the cabin in addition to the one carry-on allowed. However, our normal carry-on luggage (22" spinner and RS backpack) has to be checked.

Posted by
10161 posts

We have had the exact same experience as the rest of you and carry a European extension cord, too. For airlines, Air France accepts machines as an extra carry on. Someone recently posted that HOP accepts the machines, and I've gotten confirmation from Vueling that it can come on in addition to the usual carry on.

Posted by
13 posts

Contrary to a comment above, Air France would not let me carry the bag on separately, on a flight in mid-September from Boston to Paris and continuing on to Amsterdam. If I had had a battery-operated model and planned to use it in-flight, that would have been OK. I also could have checked it -- well packed, of course -- as a free extra. Luckily, the ResMed bag fit nicely into the backpack I use as a carry-on. KLM and Delta permitted the ResMed bag as an extra carry-on on the return trip, so we had some bonus room for new purchases.

Posted by
10161 posts

Wow about Air France. We were on the same Boston to Paris flight in May 2014 and an internal AF flight in June and never had so much as a blink. In fact we've used AF every year since we've had the machine. This is the first time I've ever heard of an issue on any airline including the cheapies. Was it a gate agent or ...? Could you give more detail. I am going to call AF to find out if they have had a policy change or if this was one uninformed empolyee.

Posted by
507 posts

Thank you for the "heads up" on AF & CPAP machines. My previous post is based on a mid-March 2013 AF flight from Newark to Tel Aviv.

{If I had wanted to use my ResMed M series in flight, AF required me} to bring a battery (cost $200 - $300) that would work the duration of the flight plus 3 hrs. {Needless to say I did not use the machine during the flight as purchasing a battery was out of the question.} My CPAP medical bag (tagged as "medical") was considered a free extra bag in addition to my carry-on & backpack (i.e. clothes).

Since my upcoming trip is scheduled w/Air France I will check with the air lines ahead of time for any restrictions.

Lesson to be learned: Check with your airlines regarding a medical machine in its own bag as a free extra carry-on bag when flying.

{Addition: Be sure your CPAP bag is tagged w/a medical tag as shown in the following link.}

Posted by
103 posts

Regarding the need to carry a battery pack in order to use a CPAP in flight: check with your sleep specialist before obsessing about this. The night that my CPAP broke during a holiday weekend and I called my doc's service at 2:00 a.m., he told me that I really only need to use my CPAP when sleeping flat in bed. It's safe for me to sleep without it when sitting in a recliner, so I don't plan on worrying about CPAP use on a plane. But don't take my doc's word for it because your particular apnea problem may be different, so do check with your own doc who knows your situation and the results of your sleep study.

Posted by
107 posts

Anyone considering a CPAP should read these comments and consider getting a "dental device" instead. I have sleep apnea, but it has never bothered me. My wife is the one who is affected by it, and insisted on finding a remedy. After my diagnosis, I took one look at the CPAP machine and realized I did not want that in my life, so I opted for the dental device. My wife is pleased because I no longer snore as much or gasp for breath at night. And I'm pleased that all I need to pack is a little denture box.

Posted by
28 posts

HI Marc:
For years now, I've been taking my Phillips REMstar Plus to Europe with all the things you mentioned packed into the smaller RS Packing Cube which fits into my RS Convertible Carry On. Going through security, it's always put on top of my other packing cubes for ease of inspection, then, because I use my carry on as a backpack, I put it on the bottom of the bag to keep the weight low on my body when I walk. It takes up some space, so I bring less clothes instead and wash them a little more often. I make a point of carrying 10 kg maximum. I HAVE been looking at the Somnetics Transcend CPAP and might purchase that instead if I begin to travel more frequently.
Auf Wiedersehen und Gute Reise!
(Sorry - I'm crazy about Germany, Austria and Switzerland!)