When traveling with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) medical device (commonly used for sleep apnea), will it need to be removed from your carry on bag when going thru security with TSA Pre-Check?

  • 2
    It is a device that helps in sleep apnea en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuous_positive_airway_pressure
    – Max
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 18:57
  • related: travel.stackexchange.com/q/551/47309
    – shoover
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 21:37
  • 1
    Are you asking whether A) it needs to be removed before security and placed in checked luggage; or B) whether it needs to be removed from your bag at security like laptops normally do?
    – MooseBoys
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 6:22
  • 3
    Side note: be sure to inform your airline in advance that you’ll be bringing medical equipment. They’ll add a note to your itinerary. This will allow you to take it as carry on luggage in addition to your normal carry on allowance.
    – Notts90
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 12:29
  • 7
    CPAP machines are no problem, but at US airports you will have to put it in its own bin and sometimes separate the machine from the water tank. A bit of advice... wrap it and the hoses in separate ziplock bags. Airport bins are disgusting, and you really don't want your opened CPAP machine rolling around in a bin that has had everyone's shoes in it for a week. You can get jumbo ziplock bags on Amazon if your store doesn't carry them. Also, get the freezer bags... the regular storage bags are super thin and will have holes very quickly while traveling.
    – Brad
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 16:32

6 Answers 6


I carried my Cpap device to/from USA with no problems. I contacted the airline in advance to enquire as I'd not done this before and - like you - I was unsure of the procedure. Without any hesitation they updated my booking to two pieces of hand luggage (one medical). Cabin crew too were helpful and asked if I needed to sit near a power outlet. At TSA and in UK when asked about the machine, no one did more than check that it was what I said it was. In fact one agent was jealous that I had such a new model (thanks NHS !). Maybe give the airline a call to see if they have any specific advice?

This is an extract from TSA website (link below)

"Individuals with disabilities or medical conditions, who use medical devices should not think of a TSA checkpoint as a barrier to travel. It’s okay to bring along a CPAP machine or a breast pump. Yes, passengers can travel with an insulin pump or an ostomy pouch. If an individual has a temporary medical condition, perhaps a broken leg, it does not prevent him from getting through a checkpoint." Some contact phone numbers there as well: https://www.tsa.gov/news/releases/2017/05/23/tsa-shares-tips-travelers-disabilities-medical-devices-medical-conditions

Hope this helps.

  • 1
    One of my friends has TSA Pre-Check and travels with a CPAP with no problem. It has its own case. At the most, the screener may want to swab the machine to check for explosives. Commented May 31, 2019 at 13:37
  • I carried one and was called our for additional screening (I also had a tangle of charging cables for phone and computer). It was only a brief delay while they visually inspected my bag's contents. Commented May 31, 2019 at 14:45
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    In addition to the great answer @canonracer has provided, you should consider getting a green medical device tag. It's not required, but it helps to signal to the airline that you're not trying to sneak in an extra carry on, and when TSA sees the strange device on the scanner, they will understand what they are looking it.
    – Shadow503
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 15:07

I happened to chat about this with my doctor recently. She said that you are indeed allowed to bring a CPAP device on the plane with you, and that you really shouldn't put one in your checked luggage. The TSA confirms this, and has a short rundown of how the security screening process will go. Since the security screening equipment and plastic luggage bins aren't even remotely close to sterile, you might want to bring a clear plastic bag to put the machine in to avoid contamination. Sanitize it again at your earliest opportunity.

Medical devices like a CPAP are generally treated different than regular carry-on luggage. Most airlines do not count a medical device towards your quota of carry-on bags or personal items. If in-cabin storage is limited and passengers are having to gate-check their carry-on bags, medical devices typically get priority (even if they have to bump somebody's bag that's already on the plane). The problem with CPAP devices is that they frequently have carrying cases that do too good of a good job of blending in with "normal" luggage. You may have to remind crew members that your bag is a medical device and not a normal carry-on. It might be worthwhile to ask the attendant at the luggage check counter if the airline has an official "this is a medical device" tag you can attach to the case to minimize confusion later.


Your can carry on your CPAP. As a medical device, it does not count towards your carry-on allowance. For both regular security and pre-check, the device can stay in a dedicated case. If you're carrying it in e.g. a backpack, however, it should be removed and placed in a bin.


My wife & I each carried a CPAP machine in our carry-on luggage while traveling over the past few weeks. With TSA there wasn't even a question. One non-TSA screener asked to pull the devices out to confirm that they actually operated.


Yes - you can take it along. You will have to remove it from your bag to go through security so keep an eye on it. (And your laptop and your phone and your car keys at the same time ... darn.)

BTW, not endorsing a product here - but there are now "travel" CPAPS that are much more compact yet work great. I've got a dreamstation go w/heated humidifier and w/battery pack and it's just fine - I use it with the battery on the plane and the humidifier in the hotel room. But any of them I'm sure would make travel easier.

(I've taken mine in the US and to Europe and back too, no problem. And I don't bother with any separate bag for it. It's small enough I just stick it in a gallon sized "baggie" (to keep it clean - mask&hose get a separate baggie) and jam it in my carry on with everything else.)


Yes, you must remove it from the bag for X-ray:

A nebulizer, CPAP, BiPAP and APAP must be removed from its carrying case and undergo X-ray screening. Facemasks and tubing may remain in the case. You may provide a clear plastic bag to place the device through the X-ray. Am I allowed to carry my CPAP machine onboard the plane, do I have to remove it from my carry-on? Source: Transportation Security Administration

Travel tips: Travelling with a CPAP Machine Source: Transportation Security Administration

I have flown several times with mine, carry-on, and treat it just like my laptop. It's no big deal, they've seen enough of them.

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