Air travel with respiratory equipment factsheet


If your child uses respiratory support equipment, you must check that they can safely travel on an aeroplane before booking flights.
Respiratory support equipment can include things like:

 Things to consider

Flight assessments

To travel on an aeroplane with respiratory equipment, your child must do a flight assessment. 

The air in an aeroplane cabin is pressurised and generally thinner than ground-level air. This means there is less oxygen, which can cause problems for children with breathing conditions.

A flight assessment checks if your child is at risk of having breathing problems during air travel. It can also be used to figure out whether your child needs oxygen therapy while they are flying and what level of oxygen they need,

The flight assessment is done in a specialist respiratory unit and takes about 20 minutes.

Your child will sit in a sealed room and breathe in air with the same oxygen level as in an aeroplane. 

Your child will wear a probe on their finger to check their body's oxygen level and any changes in how their body responds to the change.

If your child uses home oxygen therapy, CPAP or BiPAP, they will wear their equipment during the test.

Your child's doctor will have the final say in whether it is safe for your child to travel in an aeroplane. They can sign any insurance paperwork or travel clearance forms for you if they are given a reasonable amount of time before travelling.

Airline rules and regulations

Every airline will have different rules about travelling with respiratory equipment.

Contact the airline before booking tickets to make sure you have all the information you need, including whether you:

  • can take your child's specific equipment on board, in line with the airline's list of approved equipment
  • need pre-approval for your child's equipment
  • will need to purchase oxygen canisters directly from the airline
  • can access an in-flight power supply on board the flight.

Power supply

Some airlines will not have a direct power supply. If this happens, you must have enough battery power in your child's equipment to last 150% of the flight time to cover you in case of cancellations or long layovers.

For example, a 10-hour flight will need a battery supply of 15 hours.


Most airlines will have their medical clearance form downloadable on their website.

Make sure you print the form and have it completed by your child's doctor well before your travel date.

If you have not submitted the forms for approval, the airline may not let your child onto the flight.

Travel insurance and health care

Travel insurance is important when flying domestically and internationally. 

You should also check whether the country you are flying to has a shared health care arrangement with Australia for emergencies.

Last updated Monday 29th January 2024


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024