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A Guide To Traveling With Medical Devices and Prescription Medications

Updated: May 1, 2023


Elderly woman traveler in wheelchair at airport

Passengers traveling with medical syringes, medical devices such as a CPAP machine or oxygen, or mobility aids such as a wheelchair or walker should check with their airline(s) to confirm their policies for medical devices and medications.

  • Most airlines do not count medical devices as carry-on luggage, so you can bring them onboard in addition to your regular carry-on bag.

  • Carry a letter from your doctor explaining why you need the device or medication and any other related equipment, such as a humidifier or power cord. This can help prevent any issues at security checkpoints or with airline staff.

  • When passing through security, inform the security staff you have medical items that may need to be screened separately.

  • Ensure that your medical devices or syringes are properly labeled and packed securely.

  • Bring extra supplies, such as filters or tubing, in case of any unexpected delays during your trip.

  • If you need to use your medical devices inflight, bring enough fully-charged batteries for the duration of the flight. Power outlets may not be available on all flights or may require a DC power adaptor.

What To Know About Traveling with Medical Syringes


Carry a prescription or doctor’s note stating that you need the syringes for medical purposes. This can help prevent any issues at security checkpoints or with airline staff.


Ensure the syringes are packed properly and securely in a rigid, leak-proof container to prevent accidental needle sticks or contamination. Additionally, clearly label the container to indicate that it contains medical syringes.


When going through security, you should inform the security officer you have medical syringes in your carry-on bag. You may be asked to demonstrate that the syringes are for medical use and to show the prescription or doctor's note.


Regulations vary by country, so it’s always a good idea to check with your airline or the airport authority for the most up-to-date information. Additionally, if you have any concerns or questions about flying with medical syringes, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.


Traveling with CPAP Machines or Other Medical Devices


When flying with a CPAP machine or other medical device, it’s generally not counted as a carry-on item, allowing you to bring it in addition to your regular carry-on bag. However, you should always check with your airline to confirm their specific policies regarding medical devices. Some airlines, cruise lines, and tour operators require notification before travel and may have additional requirements for transporting medical devices and equipment.


It's also recommended that you carry a letter from your doctor that explains why you need the CPAP machine and any other related equipment, such as a humidifier or power cord. This can help prevent any issues at security checkpoints or with airline staff.


When going through security, you should inform the security officer that you have a CPAP machine and related equipment. You may need to remove the machine from its carrying case for inspection.


Additionally, you should ensure that the CPAP machine is packed properly and securely. It should be stored in a sturdy carrying case to protect it during transport. You may also want to bring extra supplies, such as filters or tubing, in case of unexpected issues or delays during your trip.


Again, it's recommended that you check with your airline in advance of your travel to confirm their specific policies and procedures for traveling with a CPAP machine or other medical devices.


Using Medical Devices During Flight


If you must use your medical device during a flight and it requires power to operate, bring enough fully-charged batteries to power your medical devices for the duration of your flight.


Power outlets may not be available on all flights. When available, onboard power outlets may require a DC power adaptor.


How To Determine If Your Medical Device Requires a Power Converter to Operate Properly in Your Destination.


Make sure the power supply for your device is rated with the voltage available in the country you are visiting, or buy a dual-voltage model for travel. Using a plug adapter and not a voltage converter could cause damage to your device. See Voltage Standards by Country


To determine if you need a voltage converter, check your device's power specifications or consult the manufacturer. The power specifications of the device can typically be found on a label or sticker on the device itself or in the user manual.


If your device's voltage and frequency requirements match those of the country you are traveling to, you may not need a power converter. However, if the requirements differ, you will likely need a power converter to ensure the device operates safely and effectively.


It's important to note that not all power converters are created equal, and you should choose a converter specifically designed for use with medical devices. This can help ensure the converter provides the correct voltage and frequency and meets safety and performance standards.


Additionally, you should consult with your healthcare provider or the device manufacturer before traveling with a medical device to ensure you have all necessary supplies and accessories, including power converters or adapters.


If you cannot find a voltage converter for your medical device, or if the manufacturer advises against using it with a voltage converter, you may need to purchase a dual-voltage model or a model specifically designed for travel.


Tips For Traveling With Mobility Devices


Traveling with mobility devices can present unique challenges, but careful planning and preparation can help minimize potential issues. Here are some tips to help make your trip as smooth as possible:


Contact the airline before your trip to notify them of your mobility device and request any necessary accommodations. Specific seats or storage space may need to be reserved for your device.


Arrive at the airport early and allow plenty of time for check-in and security screening. This will also give you time to navigate the airport and board the plane at a comfortable pace.


Bring any necessary documentation, such as a doctor's note or prescription, to confirm your need for the mobility device. This can help expedite the security screening process and ensure you can bring your device on the plane.


Pack and secure the device properly. Make sure that the mobility device is properly packed and secured for transport. Secure all locking mechanisms and remove any detachable parts if the device is collapsible. Label the device with your name and contact information.


Consider bringing a backup device, if possible, in case of any unexpected issues or delays.


Request assistance fr if you need help navigating the airport or boarding the plane, be sure to request assistance from the airline or airport staff.


Know your rights: Be aware of your rights as a passenger with a disability. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) requires airlines to accommodate passengers with disabilities, including those traveling with mobility devices.


Following these tips and being proactive in your planning can help ensure a smooth and comfortable trip when traveling by air with a mobility device.





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