Rules for Traveling With Oxygen On Airplanes

Tips for COPD Patients Who Need In-Flight Supplemental Oxygen

Airplane Travel and COPD
Airplane Travel and COPD. Credit: Photo courtesy of, user egdigital

If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and are planning air travel, read this article to learn about how you can bring supplemental oxygen on an airplane. Remember that you may need supplemental oxygen in-flight even if you don't use it at home.

Rules for Supplemental Oxygen On Airplanes

In the past, passengers who needed oxygen were met with many obstacles when they tried traveling with oxygen on an airplane.

Thanks to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), however, traveling with oxygen by airplane has never been easier.

According to the DOT final rule “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel,” which became effective in May of 2009 and regulates the use of respiratory assistive devices on flight, oxygen-dependent passengers may now carry their own portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) on board all U.S. domestic and international flights with more than 19 passenger seats beginning or ending in the U.S. (In addition to POCs, respiratory assistive devices also include ventilators, respirators, and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines.)

The concentrators must be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). To date, there are 21 oxygen concentrators approved by the FAA to carry on board your flight. They are:

  • AirSep Focus
  • AirSep FreeStyle
  • AirSep FreeStyle 5
  • AirSep LifeStyle
  • Delphi RS-00400
  • DeVilbiss iGo
  • Inogen One
  • Inogen G2
  • Inogen One G3
  • Inova Labs LifeChoice
  • Inova Labs LifeChoice Activox
  • International Biophysics LifeChoice
  • Invacare XPO2
  • Invacare Solo2
  • Oxlife Independence Oxygen Concentrator
  • Oxus RS-00400
  • Precision Medical EasyPulse
  • Respironics EverGo
  • Respironics Simply Go
  • Sequal
  • SeQual SAROS

In light of the new ruling, passengers must still meet certain pre-boarding conditions, including:

  • A doctor's statement of medical necessity
  • Advance check-ins
  • A fully charged battery for 150 percent of the flight time and properly packaged extra batteries

Tips You Should Know

If you are planning a trip and are oxygen dependent, keep these tips in mind when traveling with oxygen:

  • Every airline is different. When making an airline reservation, ask about specific regulations and restrictions that may apply when carrying oxygen onboard your flight.
  • Always schedule a pre-trip medical exam before traveling. Discuss traveling with oxygen with your doctor.
  • Don't forget to obtain 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. Remember, the letter should include your oxygen flow-rate. You may want to make an extra copy and tuck it away in your luggage, in the event you lose your in-hand copy before your return home.
  • Remember that altitude may increase your oxygen requirement. Your prescription for oxygen should reflect this.
  • Don't forget to carry your medications in your on-board luggage and to carry an adequate supply of COPD rescue inhalers when you travel. It's wise to keep any medications in their original containers.

    For more information about FAA requirements for traveling with oxygen by airplane, visit the FAA website

    If you have COPD and are planning a trip for treatment, business or pleasure, you won't want to miss these 10 travel tips for people with COPD.


    FAA Approved Portable Oxygen Concentrators - Positive Testing Results. October 7, 2015.

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