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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

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Traveling With Oxygen - Topic Overview

Traveling while you are on oxygen therapy usually is possible if you plan ahead.

Start by seeing your doctor several weeks to months before your travel date. Ask him or her to:

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  • Figure out how much oxygen you will need.
  • Give you the medical forms that are needed for travel.
  • Recommend a doctor in the places where you will travel, in case you need medical care during your trip.

Travel by plane

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved several models of portable oxygen concentrators that can be brought on an airplane. Whether you rent the device or use your own, it must be FAA-approved. Make sure that you bring enough batteries to power your device before, during, and after your flight. And bring extra batteries in case you have travel delays.
  • You cannot take your own oxygen tanks on an airplane. You may be able to pack empty oxygen tanks in your checked luggage. You can get these filled at your destination. The airline will supply oxygen while you are in flight but may charge you for it. You will likely have to pay for oxygen for each leg of a trip. And airlines usually do not supply oxygen during layovers, so try to book a direct flight.
  • At least 2 weeks before your flight, notify the airline that you will need oxygen. You will need a medical release from your doctor stating that you are able to fly. You will also need a prescription that lists the flow rate and amount of oxygen you use. If you use a portable oxygen concentrator, you will need to be able to respond to any alarms on the device.
  • If you need oxygen during a layover, you should arrange for your oxygen supplier to bring tanks to the airport.
  • Think about asking a friend or relative to travel with you. He or she can help you with all the details.

For more information, go to the Airline Oxygen Council of America website at www.airlineoxygencouncil.org. Or call the Transportation Security Administration TSA Cares helpline at 1-855-787-2227 (toll-free).

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