Tips for Air Travel with COPD

Tips for Air Travel with COPD

By COPD Connect StaffCA Published at December 15, 2017 Views 3,398 Likes 2

Historically, air travel has been one of the most difficult forms of transportation for people with COPD. Restrictions on oxygen and differences between airlines created a confusing – and often expensive – landscape of rules and regulations to navigate.

But in May 2009 things got easier. The U.S. Department of Transportation mandated that all airlines that arrive or depart in the U.S. permit travelers with portable oxygen to use it on flights globally.

The catch: The portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) must be tested and meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements. Fortunately, this includes several POCs by an array of manufacturers. The following POCs have been approved by the FAA for major airline travel:

  • AirSep FreeStyle
  • AirSep LifeStyle
  • Inogen One
  • Respironics EverGo
  • Sequal Eclipse
  • Delphi Medical Systems RS-00400
  • Invacare Corporation XPO2
  • DeVilbiss Healthcare iGo
  • International Biophysics Corporation LifeChoice
  • Inogen One G2
  • Oxlife Independence Oxygen Concentrator

While you can now bring your own oxygen aboard, it’s important to still check the airlines policies when you make your reservation. For example, many airlines require notification of POC carry-ons. It’s best to call before you book your ticket or at least two weeks before your departure.

The Airline Oxygen Council of America has a comprehensive list of airlines and their individual oxygen requirements. Still, be certain to check with the airline itself, however, as policies may have changed. Check the TSA site for more information on air travel with oxygen and respiratory-related equipment.

Also, keep these tips in mind when traveling with oxygen:

Bring extra supplies of oxygen or contact your supplier; many have divisions across the country and can see to it that all you need is delivered to your destination before you arrive.

Get a letter of medical necessity from your doctor during your pre-trip medical exam. This must be carried with you and presented to the airline before you board your plane, and should include your oxygen flow-rate. Make an extra hard copy or scan it for an electronic copy in case you lose the original during your trip.

Remember that altitude may change your oxygen requirement. Consult your doctor about whether you need to increase your prescription for travel. This could also include people who normally don’t use oxygen, but may need to for air travel.

Always bring your medications and medical supplies in your carry on.

For other general travel tips for people with COPD, read our article, Travel Tips for People with COPD.

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