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COPD and Portable Oxygen Therapy

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Air Travel With Oxygen

You must make arrangements ahead of time when flying. When you make your reservation, ask the airline about its policies on portable oxygen.

  • Before your trip, you need to get the airline’s permission to use oxygen. Most U.S. airlines require at least a 48-hour notice, but others need longer. Always check with your airline well before your travel date. Foreign airlines may have different requirements.
  • Find out which POCs are approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). You can’t bring your POC on the plane unless your airline approves it.
  • If you don’t have an FAA-approved POC, ask if you can rent one.
  • Try to get a nonstop or direct flight to prevent worries about layovers or missing a connecting flight.
  • Some airlines may provide oxygen for a fee.
  • Ask your insurance company whether you need supplementary coverage for traveling with oxygen.
  • Get a prescription for supplemental oxygen from your physician, and keep this with you -- always. This prescription should state your medical condition and your need for in-flight oxygen and also give specifics on how long oxygen should be used and on the oxygen flow rate.
  • The airlines may have their own forms for your doctor to fill out, so be sure to get these back from your doctor in plenty of time.
  • You might need an increase in the oxygen flow rate during air travel; your doctor will know. Be sure to talk to the doctor about this so you have no discomfort breathing during the flight.
  • The airlines may require you to bring ample batteries to power your POC. Most airlines require that your batteries last 50% longer (or 3 hours longer, in the case of some airlines) than the total time of your trip -- from the time you leave your home until you get to your final destination.
  • Some airlines may allow empty tanks to be stowed, but filled ones are not allowed aboard.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Scott Keller, MD on November 05, 2014
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