Opportunities for travel has increased for people with serious medical conditions as air travel has become more widespread. This includes travelers with lung conditions who need extra oxygen while flying. The numerous variations in in-flight oxygen policies among commercial airlines could cause a great deal of confusion among passengers.
There are some special considerations you’ll want to make if you need to use a portable oxygen concentrator while flying. If you need oxygen during a flight, you must use a portable oxygen concentrator because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) forbids passengers from bringing portable oxygen tanks or liquid oxygen on board.
Following are the conditions for which POC is required:
- You might need to bring extra oxygen with you if you have a condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and intend to travel.
- Pulmonary fibrosis or interstitial lung disease
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Have difficulty breathing with normal daily activity
Terms and conditions
- If you plan to travel with oxygen, airlines require a minimum of 72 hours’ notice before your flight.
- For information on your airline’s specific policies regarding the use of oxygen during the night, contact your airline or visit its website.
- The “Physician’s Statement,” a written authorization from your doctor attesting to your need for oxygen therapy, is typically required by airlines.
- Typically, air carriers offer two simple options for oxygen therapy during the night: Compressed oxygen provided by the transport company or use of a personal portable oxygen concentrator (POCs).
Travelling tips before travel
- During your pre-trip medical examination, ask your doctor for a letter stating your medical necessity.
- If you require a specially equipped room at a hotel, you might also be required to show it when you pass through hotel security, board your flight, clear customs, and/or go through airport security.
- Don’t forget to bring enough COPD rescue inhalers with you on your trip and to pack all of your regular medications in your carry-on luggage.
- You should always confirm the specific guidelines for using an oxygen concentrator in flight with the airline itself.
- You must carry enough batteries with you to power your device for at least 150% of the anticipated maximum flight time, as required by airlines and the FAA. Always carry Spare rechargeable batteries.
Travelling tips during travel
- The most crucial thing to keep in mind when using storage is that it should permit other passengers to move freely throughout the cabin without falling or tripping over it.
- Bring your device’s user manual on the flight in case you need to troubleshoot a problem.
- Altitudes above 8,000–10,000 feet may prevent your oxygen concentrator from supplying enough oxygen to meet your needs at cabin pressure. Make sure you are familiar with how to use the available oxygen masks in case a different approach is required.
- Any portable oxygen user is not allowed by the FAA to sit in an exit row, so if you see that your seat is there, ask the flight attendant if you can switch seats.
Travelling tips after travel
- Make sure your batteries are fully charged before boarding your return flight to ensure you have the most power possible.
- During your trip, store any documentation, including your doctor’s statement, in a secure location. Keep everything organised in case you need to present it again because you’ll need your documentation for the trip back.