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Oxygen patients can take advantage of our helpful tips when planning to travel with a portable oxygen concentrator. Whether you are making your next journey via plane, automobile or cruise ship, it is important to plan ahead to ensure you have a hassle-free adventure. In addition to the tips below, you will want to take into consideration changes in time zones and increased activity. All of our portable concentrators are FAA approved.
Wondering what steps you need to complete before traveling with a portable concentrator? Download our Portable Concentrator Travel Checklist to ensure a you have everything covered before you go.
Traveling with Oxygen by Plane
Contact the airline several weeks before your flight to obtain their policy and make arrangements for any special accommodations. The airline may require a letter from your physician, some medical history and a current oxygen prescription. Making sure you have all of these documents before your flight will ensure a much easier transition.
Direct flights are recommended whenever possible. By doing this, you will not have to board and disembark from the airplane with your oxygen concentrator multiple times. Layovers may also increase your total flight time which will, in turn, require you to have more batteries.
Keep your unit charged on AC power while you are waiting for boarding or during any layovers. Most airlines do not have the ability to charge a unit (AC or DC power) while in flight. Typically, you can find an outlet to plug your oxygen concentrator into while you wait for your flight; this not only allows you to run the machine without using the battery, but will also charge the battery at the same time. If you are unable to locate an outlet, ask someone at the check-in counter for assistance or if they know of an outlet you could use.
Use your portable oxygen concentrators DC capabilities when traveling to and from the airport. By doing this you can still operate your POC without having to use the battery. If you are taking a cab or getting a ride from a friend, ask them if it is ok for you to plug your POC into their DC outlet (cigarette lighter). Keep in mind that some of the units do have restrictions when using DC power. Refer to your owner’s manual or simply give us a call with any questions.
Use pulse dose if possible. If you are able to use a pulse dose setting while sitting or resting, do so! Many of the machines we carry have increased battery duration while using a pulse dose setting over continuous flow.
Make sure that you always have a pulse oximeter with you so that you can keep track of your oxygen levels. Differences in altitude, increased activity and other factors can all contribute to your oxygen saturation. It’s very important that you know what your oxygen levels are while traveling.
It is also a good idea to board the plane first so you can store your POC properly without having to move around other passengers. Many of the units we carry simply slide underneath the seat in front of you, but sometimes other accommodations must be made. Just let the airline employees at the check-in counter know that you are boarding with a portable oxygen concentrator. Many airlines allow people with special needs to board before the rest of the passengers.
FAA guidelines require that you have enough battery life to power your concentrator for at least 150% of your flight time. (For example, for a 6 hour flight, you would need 9 hours of battery time). Check with your airline for additional battery requirements.
Carry at least two batteries on your flight, even if it's a short flight. An extra battery gives you a back-up in case something goes wrong with the first one.
All of our portable concentrators come with a DC power supply that plugs into an automobile cigarette lighter. Several (but not all) units charge the battery under this DC power. Please ask our sales technicians or support department for specific information on your unit. Many (but not all) units charge the battery under this DC power. Please ask our sales technicians or support department for specific information on your unit.
One portable oxygen concentrator, the SeQual Eclipse 5, requires that you remove the battery from the unit while operating the device in the car. By leaving the battery in the unit, it can draw too much on the vehicle’s battery. This would result in a depleted battery upon arrival at your destination. Contact one of our sales technicians or refer to your manual if you have additional questions.
During the hot summer months, cars can get well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit inside. It is not recommended that you leave your unit in a hot car when not in use. Many of the portable oxygen concentrators have sensitive technology that could be damaged by being exposed to intense heat for a prolonged period of time.
Traveling with Oxygen by Cruise Ship
Call the cruise line several weeks before your trip and let them know that you will be traveling with oxygen. Be sure that you understand any specific requirements that they may have. Like the airlines, cruises will not allow you to bring oxygen cylinders or tanks on board.
Confirm that the cruise line can accommodate the AC or DC power charging requirements for your unit. Be sure to still bring batteries with you in the event that you need an alternative source of power. The cruise ships typically do not supply any kind of oxygen and if they do, it would be in emergency situations only.
The cruise line will need:
a letter from your physician
some medical history
a current oxygen prescription
Here is a list of some of the major cruise lines with links regarding the policies on oxygen: