One of the greatest benefits that oxygen concentrators give oxygen therapy patients is the freedom to travel, unlike in the earlier days of oxygen tanks. Standard oxygen tanks are not allowed on airlines according to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, restricting the ability for those users to travel.
In May 2009, however, oxygen therapy patients were finally allowed to take off: certain portable oxygen concentrators, approved by the FAA for airline travel, are permitted to be taken on the airplane in the cabin. Not all portable concentrators are permitted, but the list of approved POCs is extensive. Some of our most popular FAA approved portable oxygen concentrators are listed here:
- Inogen One G2
- Inogen One G3
- Inogen One G4
- Respironics SimplyGo
- Respironics SimplyGo Mini
- SeQual Eclipse
We strongly recommend that you check with the FAA to ensure your portable oxygen concentrator is approved.
Any airline flying into the United States is required by the Department of Transportation (DOT), which oversees the FAA, to permit passengers to use portable oxygen concentrators, provided that the unit still has its manufacturer’s label indicating it meets FAA requirements. However, it’s also at the airline’s discretion to permit passengers with POCs lacking a label.
Powering Your POC in the Air
While many airlines now feature AC power in individual seats, patients should not rely on these outlets for their portable oxygen concentrators. The power is circulated throughout the plane to the various outlets. Therefore, the power that is provided by these outlets is not enough to charge a portable oxygen concentrator. Airlines are not required to provide power for POCs, so it’s the patient’s responsibility to ensure that the unit has power throughout the flight.
Users must ensure that they bring along enough batteries to power the device for the duration of the flight. In fact, the DOT allows airlines to require users to bring enough batteries to power the oxygen concentrator for at least 150% of the flight duration, although it is best to check with your specific airline as they may have additional battery requirements.
Batteries must be in carry-on baggage, as lithium batteries are not permitted in checked baggage. The regulations further state that spare lithium batteries need to be protected, either in their original packaging or in separate pouches or plastic bags, or at least have the terminals insulated with protective tape.
Other FAA and Airline Requirements for POCs
DOT regulations also allow airlines to have requirements of their own regarding portable oxygen concentrators.
Manuals: Airlines have to allow portable oxygen concentrators, but it’s up to the patients to take care of them. Patients should ensure that they understand how to operate the machine and respond to any warning alarms or alerts that may occur. Bringing along the unit’s manual is recommended.
Medical Certificate: While the FAA doesn’t require a physician’s statement to bring a portable oxygen concentrator on board, the airline may require one. To ensure that you don’t experience any delays at the airport, call the airline before booking your ticket to understand that particular airline’s requirements regarding physician’s statements. In addition, it is always wise to travel with your prescription for oxygen in case it is needed.
Portable oxygen concentrators have opened up a whole new world (literally, for some!) for patients. Flying with a unit has never been easier, especially if you know the rules from top to the bottom.