Using cpap on-board flight

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Old Jan 25, 10, 2:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Yaatri View Post
If your machine is not certified for use on aircraft, you can't use it anyway.

I don't understand that. I'm quite certain none of my laptop, Zune, DVD player, GameBoy, hairdryer, cellphone charger, or any one of hundreds of other "portable electronic devices" have been "certified for use on aircraft". What's special about a CPAP machine that differentiates it from from any other portable electronic device and requires certification?
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Old Jan 25, 10, 2:44 pm
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That's a very good question. I also don't understand why TSA thinks they need to swab a CPAP machine but not a laptop or other electronic equipment. But I have found they are at least generally pleasant about it.

I haven't tried to use my machine on-board. i can't sleep well on planes anyway, even with a lie-flat seat. I can nap a bit but don't ever really sleep.
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Old Jan 28, 10, 5:27 pm
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Thanks for UA info

Interesting thread.

I've been using CPAP since 2004 and have literally flown around the world with it and generally my only issue is dealing the CO Red Coats whilst standing in line at security. At least a few of those trips were on Virgin, without issue, but that would have been when I was working in London some 3 years or so ago.

I'm tired (in many ways) of paying for a nice seat in Business and still not being able to sleep very well, so I'm in the market for a new CPAP just for in-flight use.

I just got off the phone with CO and was told that no CPAPs had been FAA approved and no CPAP usage is permitted without said approval.

However, now that I see UA has some flexibility, and now that CO and UA have an alliance, I'm going to throw business in UA's direction.

Of note: I second the extension cord recommendation. I've had to move the bed and place the CPAP on the floor to reach the plug in more than one hotel.
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Old Jan 30, 10, 7:28 am
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I just flew ATL to LHR BE in one of the new 764 planes which I figured would be ideal for trying CPAP use on board. However, after much consultation, the onboard flight leader found a section in their manual which said that CPAP could not be used on board.
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Old Jan 30, 10, 8:19 am
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Originally Posted by FatManInNYC View Post
However, now that I see UA has some flexibility, and now that CO and UA have an alliance, I'm going to throw business in UA's direction.
From a similar Cathay Pacific Airlines thread on FT as well as cpaptalk.com, it's hit and miss with airlines. Some extremely helpful, other's don't give a darn.

This might help:

http://www.cpaptalk.com/viewtopic/t4...nd-Travel.html

http://www.cpaptalk.com/viewtopic/t4...NG-flight.html

http://www.cpaptalk.com/viewtopic/t4...with-cpap.html

http://www.cpaptalk.com/viewtopic/t4...l-flights.html
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Old Feb 1, 10, 12:38 am
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I have been using a CPAP for the last 10 years or so and find that it is becoming more and more complicated to use a CPAP on longhaul thanks to the rise in would-be air terrorist technology. The following pointers may help.

1. ALWAYS carry your machine in your handbaggage ...... even if you then need to put other things in the hold. That way you are never separated from your machine - even if your luggage goes on a voyage of its own - and do not risk your machine being thrown by baggage handlers (sorry baggage handlers but it does happen and I've actually seen this myself) or falling off the loading ramp between the plane and the truck (again I've seen this for myself).

2. Read up on the rules for your airline or ask. At the time of writing,

BA didn't allow the use of CPAPs in WT+ using their mains power points because the machines supposedly draw more than computer laptops from the power supply available (so it's no use paying extra for the privilege of a plug!). They have no objection to you using them in any class as long as you are using an independent battery.

AF allow their use, but solely on battery and the make and model of your CPAP has to be declared at the time of ticket purchase and then agreed as being suitable for use inflight (YES even with a battery power source).

AC seem relatively clued up on their website, and it would seem that you can use mains power ............... but, once you get on board, you may need a battery pack anyway because they start to use the argument above, as exemplified by BA.

Note that some BA planes still use EMPOWER sockets which need a special plug. It's worth looking at www.seatguru.com in my experience to see if your plane has a plug at your seat and what type of power is supplied.

I have found that using a laptop battery gives me 5.5 hours charge for using a CPAP at 13 mB pressure - sufficient for a short transatlantic flight plus meals. Recharge time is 3 hours.

Incidentally BA in SFO were the most paranoid ground staff I've ever met (2007) and whose flapping resulted in great personal distress and 19 days of lost baggage, because of their insistence that my CPAP was not allowed as hand baggage as they said it would explode inflight (!!!!), and my insistance (backed by the Homeland Security team THANKS FOLKS!!!) that it was in no way dangerous and that I would not be separated from it. It travelled with me, I used it in flight and I and the other members of the public and crew using that service are still alive to tell the tale.

Please make sure that you check with your airline before you travel.

So in short:

Take enough battery power to last you in case of lack of power (because your seat power point is never guaranteed to be in service ... little catch-all clause in the T&C ...) and the right adapter for your flight and your destination.

Take an extension lead, because invariably the plugs in your hotel room are on the wall opposite the bed, and I can't be bothered every time to change the layout of the room and move the bed to get to the power point ........ plus you get to see what's never been vacuumed from underneath the bed and that isn't a pretty sight.

Take a letter from your doctor (on headed paper) stating that you have been medically prescribed CPAP treatment and for health reasons, you need to have it available at all times.

I often explain to those sharing a row with me about my CPAP before I use it, so that noone panics when they see me using a mask. I also inform the cabin crew member serving my part of the cabin out of courtesy, and found that they appreciate it ... and can wake me if I don't hear landing announcements etc because once I've got the gear on, I usually sleep very well!

Good luck, sleep well and happy landings!
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Old Feb 1, 10, 3:08 pm
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Originally Posted by pennster View Post
I don't understand that. I'm quite certain none of my laptop, Zune, DVD player, GameBoy, hairdryer, cellphone charger, or any one of hundreds of other "portable electronic devices" have been "certified for use on aircraft". What's special about a CPAP machine that differentiates it from from any other portable electronic device and requires certification?
I too don't understand the reason why CPAP has to be certified for use on aircraft, but that's the line taken by the airlines, possibly due to ignorance. Surely, electromagnetic signature of a laptop, Gameboy, DS or PSP will be different from that of CPAP, ( CPAP might have a peak in a different region of the spectrum), but total energy in the siignature cannot exceed the power drawn by the unit. One difference between a CPAP and other gadgets you mentioned is that some of the energy of those devices goes in display while for a CPAP,. all of the energy goes into driving the motor (pump). Whether peak of the electromagnetic signature of a CPAP lies in an objectionable part of the spectrum or exceeds a set limit, I cannot say.
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Old Feb 1, 10, 3:13 pm
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Yesterday morning (Sunday) I transited through JFK as I had to spend the night in a hotel at JFK due to bad weather at DCA. I arrived at the airport around 10:30 a.m. to find, to my pleasant surprise a deserted security checkpoint. As usual, I took out my laptop and my CPAP and put them in separate bins. For the first time, they did not take a swab off my CPAP to test it for explosives.
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Old Feb 1, 10, 3:37 pm
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Originally Posted by Alsacienne View Post
2. Read up on the rules for your airline or ask. At the time of writing,

BA didn't allow the use of CPAPs in WT+ using their mains power points because the machines supposedly draw more than computer laptops from the power supply available (so it's no use paying extra for the privilege of a plug!). They have no objection to you using them in any class as long as you are using an independent battery.

I have found that using a laptop battery gives me 5.5 hours charge for using a CPAP at 13 mB pressure - sufficient for a short transatlantic flight plus meals. Recharge time is 3 hours.
Tnanks for your detailed input with lots of good advice.
I don't see how they can say that a CPAP draws more power than a laptop. My CPAP's power adapter has an input of 1.2 Amp max at 100-240 V (A.C.) with an output of 4.16 Amps at 12 V (D.C.), while my netbook's power adapter has the same input as the CPAP and output of 2 Amp at 20V. Bigger laptops with an optical drive will consume more power. My Toshiba power adapter has an input of 100-240 V at 1,8 Amp and an output of 3.42 Amp at 19 V. I have tried to reason this point with NW people without any success. I don't think laptops use any shielding or more shielding than CPAP. I am inclined to think it's just because no one has produced documentation to the airlines about power usage of CPAP, they are skeptical and can get away with disallowing powering CPAP from aircraft power as the number of people wanting to use their laptop far exceeds those wanting to use CPAP on aircraft.

I use similar pressure as yours 14 cm of water (14 mb). How do you draw power from your laptop battery? is there an adapter you use? I have a laptop battery from an expired (dead) laptop. How would I charge it without the laptop?
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Old Feb 3, 10, 6:45 am
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I don't see how they can say that a CPAP draws more power than a laptop.
Neither can I! It's probably just their 'get-out' clause!

I went to a specialist battery shop and asked for a supplemental lbattery suitable for a laptop. It came with a charger lead to attach it to the mains supply and a separate lead to connect the charged battery to the cpap. It is about the size of a small paperback book and is light. It cost me about 170 (I live in France) but Maplins in the UK sell one about the size of an A4 sheet of paper for about 80.

Make sure you take your cpap technical manual to the battery shop to check the voltage required. The consumption of your CPAP and the pressure you use it at plus the capacity of the battery can give you some idea of how long the charged battery can run your cpap. Make sure you know how long the battery needs to be recharged.

I hope that this helps. I sit my battery on top of my CPAP on the dropdown table and there are no trailing leads .......... just my hose!!

Happy landings!
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Old Feb 22, 10, 4:23 pm
  #26  
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Continental and Delta: no thank you

Bad news from another forum:


Don't bother trying to fly overseas on Continental Airlines using your CPAP machine on board. Their customer service informed me that my AEIOMed Everest 3 CPAP machine with integrated battery cannot be used on the plane, since the machine "has not undergone RTCA Document (DO)-160 testing. This test would be performed by the manufacturer and would report if a device has
or has not been found to exceed the maximum level of radiated radio frequency interference in all modes of operation." Upon contacting AEIOMed, I was informed that they would not conduct such a test due to the expense. Additionally, you are not allowed to plug any CPAP machine into the on board AC power even in Business/First class...so if you fly Continental on long business flights like me, you are out of luck in the sleep department. It looks like Delta Airlines has the same policy.
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Old Feb 22, 10, 7:53 pm
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Originally Posted by dtsm View Post
Bad news from another forum:


Don't bother trying to fly overseas on Continental Airlines using your CPAP machine on board. Their customer service informed me that my AEIOMed Everest 3 CPAP machine with integrated battery cannot be used on the plane, since the machine "has not undergone RTCA Document (DO)-160 testing. This test would be performed by the manufacturer and would report if a device has
or has not been found to exceed the maximum level of radiated radio frequency interference in all modes of operation." Upon contacting AEIOMed, I was informed that they would not conduct such a test due to the expense. Additionally, you are not allowed to plug any CPAP machine into the on board AC power even in Business/First class...so if you fly Continental on long business flights like me, you are out of luck in the sleep department. It looks like Delta Airlines has the same policy.
This is really stupid. I ran into something similar too, with a different flavour. The manufacturer calimed that their unit met the emission standards while NW claimed they had nothing on file for that unit. Further digging revealed that an earlier version of basically the same unit met the standards, because of which the manufacturer claimed that the new and improved unit would too. It is indeed expensive to perform a laboratory tests and compile results of the tests. Manufacturers are willing to go through the expense of testing if the payback is big, for example equipment that goes on military platforms such as ships submarines and aircraft. I don't know what the emission limits are. But we do know that these units consume power in the range of hundred watts. As I said, I don;t know what the standards are, and how they are specified. Typically radiated power at one meter from the source is used in many applications. Two motors consuming the similar power will have similar total radiated power. But you cannot make them understand. I have tried. If Model A meets the standards and model B is similar, model B should be OK too. But no luck.


I see only three possible solutions: Making the Govt to recognise the need for allowing use of CPAP on board so that
  • The Government forces the manufacturer to provide some models that have undergone tested and that all models be clearly labelled if they meet emission standards
  • Govt bearing the cost of testing.
  • Forcing the airlines to maintain a list of units that meet emission standards. If a manufacturer provides test results, the airline should either accept them or condcut its own tests to confirm or disprove manufacturer's claims.

Last edited by Yaatri; Feb 22, 10 at 7:58 pm
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Old Apr 10, 10, 11:42 am
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I have a few thoughts and a question or two about CPAP and aircraft.
Does anyone here use a bipap or a vpap?

I had my annual sleep study a few weeks ago. I had been using CPAP for about 18 months. The good news is that my AHI index was halved from mid 90's per hour to mid 40's per hour. I have lost about 45 lbs during that period.
Despite my AHI index going down, the pressure setting had to be increased. Prior setting of pressure I was using did not eliminate all obstructive events, but the doctor had recommended that pressure since I was new to CPAP and the pressure setting of 16cm was high enough that a new user might not be able to tolerate the pressure. Now my pressure setting is 20 cm of water column. I was unable to tolerate it during exhalation. So within three weeks of the last sleep study, I was sent in for another titration using a bibap.
I was curious about the significance of the pressure. What does a pressure of 20 cm of water column in access of the atmospheric pressure mean?

I have two practical answers.
  1. My brother, who was a chief engineer on oil tankers told me, they used a pressure of 20 cm in piping for air supply, on the ships to keep the pipes clean, i.e. to keep corrosion from building up on the inside walls of the pipes.
  2. For Flyertalk, a better analogy would be in terms of aircraft. I did a simple calculation and the result was quite impressive. I had an inkling the pressure would be within an order of magnitude of that required to lift an aircraft off the ground. If the pressure of 20 cm of water column (2% of the atmospheric pressure) was uniformly applied to the underside of the wings of a Boeing 747-400 ER, i.e., the pressure difference between the upper and the lower surface of the wings was 20 cm of water column, it would be sufficient to lift an aircraft the size of a Boeing 747-400 ER that weighed 26% of the maximum take off weight of the aircraft. Quite a daunting thought.
  3. Even an empty Boeing 747-400 ER weigh more than the weight that could could be lifted by a pressure of 20 cm of water column. The pressure is enough to lift a weight more than twice the number of passengers and their luggage of a fully loaded Boeing 747-400-ER
I was using a Respirnoics CPAP, but now I am using a Resmed Vpap Auto25, that the vendor has loaned me pending results of the second titration.
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Old Apr 10, 10, 11:58 am
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20 cm of H2O is about 0.28 PSI...pretty light. About 7.75 inches H2O, in the terms that I think in. My Respironics has a ramp feature, and I've played with the settings. Originally it was set to start at 5 in and ramp to 10 over 45 minutes. Over a few years I've gotten really used to it, and now start at 7 and do a 20 min ramp to 10.5 inches (about 26.6 cm). I know people that are a lot higher...

But yeah, a little force applied in a lot of places can move a heck of a lot. My 10.5 inches/0.36 PSI over 1 square foot (144 sq inches) is about 52 pounds of force...

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Old Apr 10, 10, 12:35 pm
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Originally Posted by RFTraveler View Post
20 cm of H2O is about 0.28 PSI...pretty light. About 7.75 inches H2O, in the terms that I think in. My Respironics has a ramp feature, and I've played with the settings. Originally it was set to start at 5 in and ramp to 10 over 45 minutes. Over a few years I've gotten really used to it, and now start at 7 and do a 20 min ramp to 10.5 inches (about 26.6 cm). I know people that are a lot higher...

But yeah, a little force applied in a lot of places can move a heck of a lot. My 10.5 inches/0.36 PSI over 1 square foot (144 sq inches) is about 52 pounds of force...

RFTraveler
I am not sure what you meant by "20 cm of water pressure is pretty light". An excess pressure of 20 cm of water column will feel pretty light on the your palm, the force of about 2 pound force. A little pressure applied over a large area, can produce a large force, which is not the same thing as applying a little force in lots of places. Little forces applied in lots of places can produce no net force. Intra-molecular forces, or electrostatic forces between electrons, for example, produces no net force.
My Respironics had a ramp feature also. It ramped up from 4 cm to 16 cm over a course of 45 minutes or so. After a few months of use, I stopped using the ramp feature, since I didn't want to weight for 45 minutes to find out my mask was leaking. I was able to tolerate 16 cm pf pressure without ramping it up from 4 cm.
water pressure of 10 in is pretty high. I have not come across anyone with a pressure that high. When I was at 16cm, I had the highest pressure among those in a support group for people with OSA.
Have you got any problems with your mask? You need a very good mask at a pressure like yours.
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