Obtaining oxygen for air travel — The Federal Aviation Administration does not allow travelers to carry their own oxygen tanks or liquid oxygen aboard commercial aircraft. Instead, most patients can use a Department of Transportation approved battery-powered portable oxygen concentrator. Airlines landing in the United States are now required to allow use of these devices throughout the flight.
You can get portable oxygen concentrators for short-term rental from an oxygen supply company. Examples of portable oxygen concentrators include AirSep Free Style, AirSep Life Style, Inogen One, Inogen One G2, Respironics EverGo, Sequal Eclipse, Delphi Medical Systems RS-00400, Invacare Corporation XPO2, DeVilbiss Healthcare iGo, International Biophysics Corporation Life Choice, and Oxlife Independence Oxygen Concentrator. You can use these on the ground and carry them onto the plane. These machines are battery-operated, so you need to bring enough 12-cell batteries for one and half times the anticipated duration of the flight. While you are in the airport waiting for boarding, you might be able to plug the portable oxygen concentrator into an electrical outlet to save your battery power.
Alternatively, some airlines provide oxygen that is supplied in an oxygen canister packaged in a flame proof "super box."
"Shop around" for an appropriate airline — Oxygen policies and charges can be very different, depending upon the airline. It is important to obtain the most up-to-date information about an airline’s specific requirements to make sure that your needs will be met. The Airline Oxygen Council of American web site (www.airlineoxygencouncil.org
) lists various airlines' policies regarding in-flight oxygen use and equipment. The European Lung Foundation has compiled information on European airlines, whose rules and charges regarding in–flight oxygen may differ from those of American carriers (www.european-lung-foundation.org
When contacting the airlines, begin by asking if they have a special services office, medical department, or a help desk to help travelers who need in-flight oxygen. The following is a list of suggested questions that may be helpful in clarifying a specific air carrier's oxygen policies:
●Does your airline accept passengers who require supplemental oxygen?
●Are portable oxygen concentrators acceptable or is oxygen supplied by the airline?
●How much notice do you require before the flight? Many airlines require 48- to 72-hour advance notice. However, some air carriers may require several days, one to two weeks, or as much as one month advance notice. This is particularly true of international flights.
●What documentation is required from my doctor? All carriers require some notification from the passenger's personal doctor concerning oxygen needs, usually a written prescription or an airline authorization form, although sometimes verbal notification is sufficient.
●Do you allow passengers to bring their empty oxygen equipment? Due to safety reasons, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits travelers from carrying their own partially- or completely-filled oxygen tank or liquid oxygen tank aboard commercial aircraft. However, some air carriers permit passengers to bring empty personal oxygen equipment on board or as checked baggage.
●Are there specific seat requirements? Some air carriers assign certain seats to oxygen-using passengers to accommodate their equipment.
If the airline will be supplying the oxygen:
●What do you charge for supplying in-flight oxygen and how is the charge determined? Specific price structures vary among carriers. Some carriers supply oxygen for free, while others charge varying rates, often ranging from about $100 to $250. However, fees may be as low as $50 or as high as $1,500. Charges may be based on a flat fee, the number of travel legs, the number of oxygen cylinders needed, or total air time. It is important to be aware that airlines may charge for each separate flight. Because health insurance may not cover such charges, it is important to consider the expense of in-flight oxygen when selecting among air carriers that serve the same destinations.
●Are passengers required to purchase an additional seat if they will need more than a certain number of oxygen cylinders?
●What liter flow options are available? The liter flow capability offered among different air carriers varies. For example, liter flow options may range from only one or two choices (eg, either 2 or 4 liters per minute) to an adjustable range of 1 to 15 liters per minute.
●Do you provide nasal cannulas or masks? A nasal cannula is a device that delivers oxygen via two small tubes inserted in the nostrils. Air carriers may offer nasal cannulas or masks only, or a choice between the two. In addition, they may allow you to bring and use your own cannula or mask.