Powering Your POC in the Air: An Overview of Flying with Oxygen

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.

Educate yourself with our Free Oxygen Therapy Guide

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.

Flight Length and Concentrator Battery Power Requirement

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.

Have more questions about Flying with Oxygen?

Page last updated: October 5, 2018

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

11 thoughts on “Powering Your POC in the Air: An Overview of Flying with Oxygen”

  • Florence E Caplow
    Florence E Caplow April 23, 2018 at 3:18 am

    I had a horrific time with SwissAir for my mother's POC. They blocked us from flying, forced us to buy their oxygen at $450 per flight segment, fouled up in a thousand ways, and when I said I could bring all the batteries needed for a 9 hour flight, refused to allow it even though paperwork had been completed. Then they didn't actually know how to use their own equipment. Don't fly Swiss air if you need oxygen!! In fact, don't fly Swiss if you have any special needs. Does anyone know how to make a complaint to the FAA?

    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman April 23, 2018 at 5:53 am

      I am sorry that you had such a bad experience. Since every airline is different we always recommend before you book your tickets researching the airline's requirements for oxygen. Because rules can change without notice we recommend calling the airline you are looking to fly to obtain all of the requirements. This will hopefully give you the best experience on your trip.

  • Susan Schearer
    Susan Schearer April 23, 2018 at 3:47 am

    My Inogen One G-4 is a godsend. I've traveled for three weeks to Morocco and Spain, and another three weeks to Australia, with mine. Filling out the airline permission forms, however, is a real hassle and has to be begun early.

    • Kelly

      I am 43 and have just been issued an Inogen 4. I will be traveling to Europe with a group of school children in a few weeks. I am at a loss for how to carry my I4. Did you use the hip pack or did you use the cross body strap. I LOVE the hip pack for when I am walking but it is very large and I can't sit with it on. We will be doing a lot of bus travel and the hip pack is too big and stiff to fold and put inside another bag when I am seated. The cross-body is less comfortable while walking around but is smaller and much more portable.
      I would appreciate any suggestions!

      • Ed Rodgers

        Susan, Your question is great and Europe with a group of kids! wow! It really comes down to personal preference and comfort. It is hard to give a one size fits all response but instead I think your feedback on thoughts is putting you on the right track. It will really come down to testing some options and see which works the best for you. I do know the backpack that is made for the Inogen G4 gets really good reviews and while on the bus you can have it by you or on your lap. Here is a link to the page with the information. Good Luck and hope the trip goes well. https://www.oxygenconcentratorstore.com/oxygen-concentrator-accessories/inogen-one-g4-accessories/

  • Rodney Tucay

    Last February, 2018 our family went to Tokyo. Air Canada required prior authorization and medical certificate from my lung specialist because I was using a POC---to which I complied. In fact Air Canada called me and informed me that everything was approved and I don't have anything to worry about. I told myself: "Good job Air Canada!" On our return flight (Air Canada) after passing through Air Canada check-in counter in Tokyo, I and my family boarded the Air Canada flight. Before take-off a flight attendant approached me and quizzed me about my POC asking me if I have approval to bring my POC on board. I just looked at her and told her: "Why don't you check with your airline Air Canada?" I guess she then checked with her airline and got her answer because she never went back to me. So for us, no more Airline Canada.

  • Peg Fisher

    How much does a battery weigh? If I have a 4 hour flight and need 6 hours of battery power, how many hours will I get from one battery thus how many batteries will I need? Your above artwork is unclear -- it implies the need for 3 batteries for a 4 hour flight. If a battery weighs one pound and I must have 3 batteries or 3 pounds PLUS the weight of the concentrator, how much weight, i.e., how many pounds of equipment in total must I carry? Please show the total weight for each of the portable oxygen concentrators you list in this article since I know the weight of each one differs, thus the total weight with batteries will differ.

    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman April 30, 2018 at 7:58 am

      Thank you for your inquiry. I have passed along your information to a specialist who will reach out regarding your request. For more immediate assistance feel free to give our specialists a call at 888-360-9628 or if you prefer email [email protected]

  • Pat Morton

    What are your suggestions for going on a 14 day cruise? We will be on the ship for 5 days before we will hit land and be able to get off the ship. I have an Inogen 4 with a double battery and plan to rent a double battery to take with me. I only use it with exertion or walking a short distance.

    • Margaret Goodman

      Make sure you check with your airline for the most updated requirements for flying with oxygen. I would also contact the cruise ship line you are traveling on to see if they have any requirements for passengers who are on oxygen. If you will be getting off the ship make sure that you have enough battery life to cover you during any planned activities. You will also want to make sure that if you need an ac adapter that it is also the correct voltage for charging when off of the ship.

  • Gerry Florida

    I flew to London last month on Norwegian air. I had some trepidation about Norwegian, but it couldn't have gone better. I booked the front row bulkhead seat and put my backpack/inogen one g4 on the floor in front of me. I plugged in the AC power to the outlet at my seat and the staff never asked me anything about it. I arrived in London with a fully charged battery and life was good. Two weeks later I flew Delta first class from Boston back to florida and it was a very different story. (Same seat) The attendant immediately told me upon boarding I couldn't use that on board. I told him he was sadly mistaken. After leaving and consulting his "policy manual" he returned and said yes I could use it. Then he insisted it had to go in the overhead for takeoff and landing. I decided to let him win that one, it just wasn't worth fighting over. For what it's worth, they kept the cabin altitude much higher than appropriate and I barely had enough oxygen to make it home. Although the restroom was right in front of me, it was difficult to make the trip. Delta needs to be better informed on their altitude requirements. It is common for long flights to run the cabin altitude high because it makes the passengers sleepy, but that isn't a good idea for those of us on oxygen.


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