Airline Travel With Oxygen

Quick link: POC Information

Airline travel is available to persons who require in-flight supplemental oxygen. Negotiating the many obstacles, however, can be challenging. As an oxygen user it is your responsibility to make your own arrangements. Patience, perseverance and having the appropriate information available will help you plan your trip. A helpful tip: keep written information in front of you, note with whom you speak, and write down contact information. Airline policies are subject to change without notice. It is recommended that you notify the airline at the time of reservation and 48 hours before flight time that you will be flying with oxygen to verify its policy, and that you carry a copy of the policy and your oxygen prescription with your airline tickets while traveling.

ADVANCE PLANNING IS ESSENTIAL

Your trip begins with the airline. Each airline has its own policy for on-board oxygen transport and in-flight oxygen usage. You will need to contact the individual airline for their current policies regarding oxygen. For general information about traveling with oxygen, click on: www.airlineoxygencouncil.org. You must carry your prescription for oxygen and your Doctor's letter approving air travel with you at all times. Many of the airlines have their own airline specific medical form for your Doctor to fill out. These are generally good for one year. A helpful tip: keep your other medications, prescriptions and forms with you while traveling and not in your checked baggage.

You must carry your prescription for oxygen and your Doctor’s letter approving air travel with you at all times. Many of the airlines have their own airline specific medical form for your Doctor to fill out. These are generally good for one year. A helpful tip: keep your other medications, prescriptions and forms with you while traveling and not in your checked baggage.

Effective May 13, 2009 the Department of Transportation final rule "Nondiscrimination on the Basic of Disability in Air Travel" contains air carrier requirements regarding the use of respiratory assistive devices on aircraft. In the final DOT rule, section 382.133 generally requires that air carriers conducting passenger service must permit someone with a disability to use an FAA-approved portable oxygen concentrator (POC) on all flights (on aircraft originally designed to have a maximum passenger capacity of more than 19 seats) unless the device does not meet applicable FAA requirements for medical portable electronic devices and does not display a manufacturer’s label that indicates the device meets those FAA requirements.

There are now 21 portable oxygen concentrators approved by the FAA to carry on board your flight. Approved POCs include:

They can be stowed under the seat in front of you during flight and can be battery powered when not plugged into an electrical socket if available and the Airline allows. Remember: YOU must confirm with your airline carrier 48 hours prior to flight time that you will be bringing on board and using a POC.

NOTE: YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO USE ANY OTHER PERSONAL OXYGEN SYSTEMS ON BOARD. FILLED OXYGEN TANKS (LIQUID OR COMPRESSED GAS) CANNOT BE CHECKED AS BAGGAGE ON ANY AIRLINE. Some airlines may allow empty oxygen equipment to be stowed in baggage but it must be verified as empty and the regulator removed. Check with your airline ahead of time to see if they will allow empty systems/tanks as stowed or checked baggage.

Once you have decided on your oxygen needs, you will need to contact your oxygen provider to see if they can provide you with a POC approved for air travel. If not, you will have to rent or purchase one independently - see POC Information for more details. You will need sufficient battery power to cover pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight time. Remember you will need to arrive at the airport 1 – 2 hours ahead of your flight time. At Gate Check-in you must have battery power for at least 50% longer than your scheduled flying time. For example – if your flying time is 3 hours, you will need 4 ½ hours of battery power) You will need to cover your travel time to the airport, airport waiting time, your flight time and the time it will take you to deplane, pick up your checked baggage and travel to your final destination. Plan ahead for any possible delays. Non-Stop or direct flights will keep the battery time to a minimum.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) provides public tips on safe carriage of batteries and battery-powered devices such as medical equipment. For information on how to safely travel with oxygen equipment batteries, please visit the DOT web site.

You may want to contact your insurance carrier to determine coverage for your oxygen needs while traveling.

At the Airport you will need to pass through Airport Security. If you are traveling with an approved POC, that will need to be identified on the POC itself. All TSA approved oxygen systems can safely be x-rayed if requested. If you are traveling with a portable oxygen system, you will be allowed through the security area after inspection and may take the system to the gate. If the system is not an approved POC you may NOT be permitted to take it onto the airplane and will need someone with you to remove it from the airport. If you do not use an approved POC oxygen supply you will need to arrange for an oxygen supply at your destination. It is very important that you are familiar with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines for “Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions” before you go to the airport. Go the TSA website @ http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/travelers-disabilities-and-medical-conditions for this information.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), of which virtually all US airlines with international routes are members, has a medical manual which includes forms and procedures for documenting medical conditions. Included is a FREMEC (frequent medical travelers medical card) from, which seems designed to streamline the medical clearance process across member airlines. The medical manual can be found here. The IATA site is www.iata.org.

Traveling with CPAP, Bi-Level Device or a Non-Invasive portable ventilator:

If your Physician requires you to travel with CPAP, Bi-Level Device or a Non-Invasive portable ventilator, here is an excellent resource to watch: Traveling with Trilogy: Taking it on the Road.

Other Modes of Travel With Oxygen

Traveling on Amtrak and Cruise Ships:

If you are traveling on an Amtrak train or want to take a cruise, check out these links for their policies and guidelines before booking your trip.

Amtrak: http://www.amtrak.com/accessible-travel-oxygen-equipment

Carnival Cruise Lines: http://www.carnival.com/legal/guests-special-requirements.aspx

Holland America: http://www.hollandamerica.com/assets/cruise-vacation-planning/AccessToExcellence.pdf

Royal Caribbean: http://www.royalcaribbean.com/allaboutcruising/accessibleseas/otherNeeds.do

Top Ships for Cruisers with Disabilities: http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=105

Please help us keep this list current. If you are aware of an updated policy, please contact us at: ExecOffice@homeoxygen.org

HAVE A GREAT TRIP!