Individuals receiving oxygen therapy often prefer portable oxygen concentrators (POC’s) because of the freedom of mobility they offer. One of the most frequently asked questions about POC’s is if they can be used on airplanes. Thanks to recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) determinations, certain models of POC’s have been approved for in-flight use. The FAA has received thousands of letters in support of its decision to allow POC’s on-board airlines.
The FAA finally responded to tremendous pressure to allow POC’s on commercial aircraft by the more than 1 million Americans who require supplemental oxygen on a daily basis. POC’s have been approved for on-board use because they don’t use compressed oxygen, which is classified as hazardous and not allowed on planes.
|Portable Oxygen Concentrators approved by the FAA for in-flight use:
Not all airlines allow permit POC’s onboard. Make sure to check with your carrier before you book your flight. Most airlines require that you contact them at least 48 hours before your flight departs to inform them you will be traveling with a POC.
Current airlines that allow POC’s on aircraft:
In a company statement shortly after the FAA ruling to allow POC’s on aircraft, Inogen CEO Kathy Odell called the ruling “A great day for oxygen users. Devices like the Inogen One have undergone extensive testing to ensure they do not interfere with aircraft procedures during takeoff, in the air or at landing, nor should their operation disrupt other passengers. What they do is provide worry-free travel for oxygen patients.”
Before you fly you must obtain a signed statement from your physician. Pursuant to Federal Aviation Regulations, anyone wishing to use a POC onboard an airline must obtain a written statement from their physician stating your ability to hear/see and respond to alarms, when oxygen use is necessary (all or part of the trip) and the maximum flow rate corresponding to the pressure in the cabin under normal operating conditions. Here is a template of the Medical Verification Statement Required by Continental Airlines. Every airline offers their own template for a statement, though they are generally all the same. You should be able to use one statement for the majority of your air travel. Like an I.D. it is something you present and keep with you.
The FAA ruling and the improved technology of portable oxygen concentrators makes airline travel not only possible for oxygen therapy patients, it makes it easy and without the stigma attached to bulky oxygen cylinders. Many POC’s, like the Inogen One and SeQual Eclipse, are also battery operated. For further information on how to safely travel with portable oxygen concentrator batteries, please visit the Department of Transportation (DOT) website.