Travel with oxygen by airplane.
Fly with portable oxygen
There are hundreds of airlines, traveling all around the world every day. Unfortunately, there isn’t a standard policy for all the airlines regarding the use of therapeutic oxygen on board.
Every airline has its own supplemental oxygen policy.
For example, there are airlines that have their own therapeutic oxygen devices onboard (some charge it, some don’t).
Others allow passengers to bring their Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) devices and use them during the flight.
Some others restrict any kind of oxygen device on board.
That means that you will need to make a small research to find the suitable airline and book your flight.
To help you out we searched the websites of all 280 IATA* members, to find out their supplemental oxygen policy.
*IATA (International Air Transport Association) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing 280 airlines or 83% of total air traffic.
CPAP and flights
CPAP machines were developed primarily for use at home.
Advances in CPAP technology now make it possible for patients with sleep apnea to use their CPAP devices during long-duration flights that span normal sleeping hours.
Like POCs, CPAP machines are classified as medical assist devices. They are, therefore, permitted on most domestic and international flights.
Remember that an external power source may not be available during your flight.
If you decide to travel by plane and you are on oxygen therapy there is a list of things you should do, to be fully prepared for you trip.
Keep in mind that is always better (and safer) to travel with a companion.
Before your flight with an oxygen device
1) Visit your doctor to inform him/her about your trip. The oxygen needs on a flight might be different from the needs when you are on ground, because of the difference in the air pressure. Take a new prescription if necessary. Also inform the doctor if there are extreme weather conditions at your destination (high humidity, extreme cold, extreme hot, high altitude, air pollution). Weather conditions can make breathing even more difficult or/and can worsen your symptoms.
2) Make sure you have all the medicine you need.
3) Take at least one copy of your medicine and oxygen prescription and always have it on you.
4) Do a research for doctors and hospitals at your destination in case you need it.
5) We suggest you to have an oximeter on you to check your oxygen levels.
6) If you ‘re travelling abroad, check if your insurance covers you in case of emergency.
7) Make sureI that your Portable Oxygen Concentrator it has a FAA* approval.
8) Fully charge all your batteries.
9) Be sure you have the right power convertors/adaptors.
10) Take your cpap or bipap machine with you, even when you’ re not planning to stay the night.
11) Be prepared for possible delays and have extra batteries with you.
12) If you don’t have your own oxygen device or oxygen tanks/cylinders, you can always rent. There are companies that can supply you with oxygen devices or tanks almost everywhere in the world.
*FAA is the American Federal Aviation Administration.
All Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) devices which are approved by the FAA have a manufacturer’s label that indicates the device meets the FAA requirements.
List of FAA approved Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) devices:
- AirSep Focus
- AirSep FreeStyle
- AirSep FreeStyle 5
- AirSep LifeStyle
- Delphi RS-00400
- DeVilbiss Healthcare iGo
- Inogen One
- Inogen One G2
- Inogen One G3
- Inova Labs LifeChoice
- Inova Labs LifeChoice Activox
- International Biophysics LifeChoice
- Invacare Solo2
- Invacare XPO2
- Oxlife Independence Oxygen Concentrator
- Oxus RS-00400
- Precision Medical EasyPulse
- Respironics EverGo
- Respironics SimplyGo
- SeQual Eclipse
- SeQual eQuinox Oxygen System (model 4000)
- SeQual Oxywell Oxygen System (model 4000)
- SeQual SAROS
- VBox Trooper Oxygen Concentrator
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved several models of portable oxygen concentrators that can be brought on an airplane. If you have a portable oxygen concentrator,make sure it is FAA-approved.
Booking a flight in order to travel with oxygen
1) Try to find a direct flight.
2) Make sure you inform the airline about your oxygen needs early.
3) Some airplanes have power supply on board. Ask if your airplane has power supply and if it does book a seat next to it.
4) Most of the airlines have their own physician statement that must be filled in by your doctor. You can find it on the airline’s website.
5) Check with the airline the maximum limit of batteries you can carry. If there is someone travelling with you ask him/her to carry some extra batteries for you.
6) A lot of airlines provide extra assistance at the airports, to people with disabilities. In case you need assistance, especially if you are travelling alone, inform the airline. Some airports also might provide this kind of assistance, regardless of the airline you’re travelling with.
The FAA requires that the charge should be able to last 150 percent the length of the trip.
You should also factor in time needed to travel to the airport, waiting to board, layovers, and traveling from the airport to your destination after arrival. Ensure that you have sufficient battery power for the duration of your flight, including a conservative estimate of unanticipated delays. Fly non-stop if possible. This eliminates the hassle of arranging for oxygen deliveries to the airport which results in extra charges.
Arriving at the airport with supplemental oxygen:
1) Ask from your companion to help you with your luggage.
2) In case you have require the airline’s or airport’s assistance, inform them for your arrival.
3) Arrive to the airport early because getting a Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) device through security may take some time.
4) Try to avoid the lines and remember that you have priority.
5) During the check in and boarding inform the staff that you are travelling with a Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) device.
6) Always take your Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) device on board, even though you are not planning to use it. Never put your device, batteries, medicines, tubes or any other fitment in your checked in luggage, because sometimes luggages can be lost.
7) Airlines usually don’t provide oxygen during the waiting time at the airports and layovers, so you must have your device while you are at the airport. During that time try to use an electrical outlet to save battery life. While waiting to board your flight, you may be able to conserve battery power by powering your POC from an electrical outlet in the airport terminal.
8)Be prepared for possible delays and have extra oxygen/batteries with you.
9)During the security screening by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), inform them that you are unable to be disconnected from supplemental oxygen and ask for an alternative screening process.
During the flight with a portable oxygen device
1) Take all your medicines and prescriptions with you on the plane.
2) Ask the cabin crew to assist you with your handbags during boarding and debarkation.
3) Adjust the oxygen supply at your needs.
4) Check your oxygen levels with your oximeter regularly during the flight.
5) If you ‘re using your Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) device, take extra fully charged batteries on board.
6) Ask for a power supply use it as much as possible to save battery.
7) Place the device properly, and make sure that the air filters are not blocked. The POC should be placed underneath the seat in front of the POC user so that the user or the user’s attendant can see the warning lights and/or hear the audible warning. Placement directly under the POC user’s seat and placement in a closed compartment would prohibit the user from seeing the warning lights, as well as possibly prohibiting the user from hearing audible warnings. Other placement locations may be acceptable.
The FAA prohibits any person using a POC from occupying any seat in an exit row.
Stowage During Movement.
During movement on the surface (pushback from the gate and taxi), takeoff, and landing, the POC must be stowed properly and in such a manner that it does not restrict passenger egress to any exit or the aisle in the passenger compartment.
During movement on the surface, takeoff, and landing, the tubing that is used to dispense oxygen from a properly stowed POC to the user’s mask/nasal cannula may stretch across the row in such a way as to restrict passenger egress or become a tripping hazard in an evacuation.
The POC user must not restrict another passenger’s egress during these phases of flight. In this case, a seating restriction may be required to comply with an FAA safety rule. For example, if all seats in the row are occupied, the appropriate seat for the POC user would be a window seat.
However, if there are no other passengers in the row, or if there is one other passenger in a row of three seats and that passenger is seated in the aisle seat, or if the POC is stowed in such a way that the tubing does not block another passenger’s egress, then other seats in that row may be appropriate as long as no other passenger’s egress is restricted by the tubing.
An operator can only establish seating restrictions based on an FAA safety rule.
Cabin Depressurization and a POC oxygen.
There is no danger posed by a POC that is operating during a loss of cabin pressure.
In the case of loss of cabin pressure (rapid or slow), POCs typically will not continue to meet the oxygen needs of the user at cabin pressure altitudes above 8,000-10,000 feet. This is because the lower ambient air pressure at higher altitudes makes the concentration of the oxygen output of the POC too low to meet the POC user’s oxygen needs.
In cabin depressurization, the POC user should be instructed to discontinue use of the POC and use the oxygen masks that deploy to provide supplemental passenger oxygen until the aircraft descends below 10,000 feet cabin pressure altitude.
Arriving at your destination with supplemental oxygen
1) Ask from your companion to help you with your luggage.
2) If you required the airline’s or airport’s assistance, ask them to help with your luggage, passport control or customs (if necessary) and all the way to your means of transport.
3) Try to avoid lines and remember that you have priority.
If you have arranged for a rental oxygen device or oxygen tanks/cylinders to wait for you at the airport, contact the supplier to inform about your arrival.
You arrived safely at your destination and now it’s time to relax at your room.