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Contact the airline

Confirm the airline’s policies on travelling with a ventilator. When booking your flight, request extra airline personnel support if needed.

Contact TSA

Inform TSA of an upcoming flight to ensure safe passage through security checks. Make them aware of the specific equipment and its purpose before traveling.

Provide required forms

If required, provide a written explanation of the patient’s need for ventilation and attach it to the patient’s itinerary. Indicate that medical equipment and a wheelchair are needed onboard.
Airlines also require a completed medical information sheet and letter from your doctor that includes the medical diagnosis and a statement attesting that the patient is cleared for travel.
Your ventilation manufacturer can provide you with a document stating your ventilator is approved for air travel.

Obtain approval for in-flight ventilation and oxygen

The airline’s medical and engineering departments may need to approve ventilator use in flight. Provide the ventilator name, model number, and specifications, as well as the manufacturer’s name, address, phone number, and website address.
Also check with the airline to get instructions about oxygen use on-board the plane. Most carriers permit portable oxygen concentrators but not cylinders of oxygen.
Verify that the ventilator will fit under the seat, as required, to prevent it from posing a danger during turbulence or blocking other passengers. When positioning the ventilator, make certain there is adequate air intake for the device. Also, be aware that airline personnel may require the ventilator be turned off during takeoffs and landings.
When traveling on multiple flights on different carriers, remember to inform all airlines involved about your ventilation needs and get approvals in advance.

Other Considerations

Pack to protect the secondary vent during transit

  • Use a modified luggage cart with bungee cords to help you move heavy equipment through airports and over long distances.
  • Bring an easy-open lightweight carrying case with enough space and pockets to pack protective towels, pads, and clothes around the ventilator.
  • If possible, avoid checking the ventilator as luggage. The ventilator could be mishandled during loading or damaged in flight in the baggage or cargo area.

Bring adequate power or confirm the aircraft has outlets for medical use in flight

  • Some airlines allow the use of onboard electricity (possibly for a fee) through a medical electrical outlet.
  • Most airlines allow dry or gel cell batteries onboard if they can fit under the seat.
  • Test and confirm the ventilator’s internal and/or external battery use time before leaving for the airport and before boarding.

Check oxygen availability during flight

  • Contact the airline to discuss the patient’s oxygen needs, the airline’s policy, and any fee involved for using oxygen.
  • The FAA permits passengers to use certain portable oxygen concentrator (POC) devices during flight.
  • In some circumstances, if a patient does not have a POC that complies with regulations, they may be able to use the oxygen supply of the plane.
  • Confirm your oxygen request with the check-in agent and gate agent to ensure all necessary preparations have been made.

Prepare for possible technical problems with the ventilator

  • Before traveling, be sure you know what to do if the ventilator fails.
  • Ask your supplier how to have the device repaired at your destination, if needed.
  • Ask for an estimated time for a typical repair and whether loaner ventilators are available.
  • Respiratory specialists in medical centers and home healthcare agencies at the destination city may also help find repair or replacement facilities.
  • Spare circuit

Get to the airport with ample time before departure

  • Airport security personnel may not have experience with ventilators and accessories.
  • Be prepared to explain that the equipment is a critical life-support system.
  • Allow enough time for officials to check the equipment.

The information and guidance presented on this website is informational only and not intended to influence practice or supersede the instructions for use of any specific device.