Traveling with Oxygen
General Travel Tips
You might want to find a hospital and doctor (hopefully a pediatric pulmonologist) in the place where you are going. You might want to find a pharmacy. Make sure they accept out-of-state prescriptions. Check your medicine supply to see that you have enough. Will you need extra prescriptions? Talk to your DME vendor about getting supplies from another DME vendor in the place to which you are going. Check your supplies inventory and travel with extras.
If driving and using oxygen take your concentrator for use while stopped overnight or at the place to which you are going and use your portable tanks while driving or moving around. If you are driving a long distance your DME vendor can you help you find places along the way to refill your oxygen tanks. Your DME vendor can also give you a chart based on the size of your tanks that helps you know how long each tank will last at any given flow rate. Always refill when the tank pressure drops below 500 psi. Bottom line: Talk with your health team before planning a trip and things will go much smoother!
To leave the house, you might need portable supplies instead of your normal home supplies. There are devices that conserve oxygen for travel. There are metered dose inhalers that can be used with certain drugs instead of nebulizers and electric air compressors. There are battery-operated compressors, too.
No matter how long (or short) the trip, pack a Go-Bag with all that you will need while away from home and all that you may need in a crisis. If you know you will be gone past a feeding time, pack the needed feeding supplies. If your child has a tracheostomy, pack tracheostomy reinsertion supplies, even though you are not planning to replace the tube while away. Build in “wiggle room” for unplanned events. Create a Go-Binder (if you don’t already have one) that contains a current copy of your child’s supplies list, medicine sheet, and health records summary. If you have a letter from your doctor for the airlines, keep it in here. Put your Go-Binder in your Go-Bag and keep it handy. If you are flying, do not check this bag. You may need this information to get through security or board the plane and you want to make sure your supplies do not get lost by the airlines.
If your child needs extra oxygen, travel of any type takes extra planning. To travel by rail or sea, contact the train or boat operator before buying your tickets. If your child’s blood oxygen levels drop, air travel or travel to high altitudes must be planned with care.
- Call the airline to make arrangements before you book your flight. There will be additional fees for using airline oxygen tanks. You cannot bring your own tanks aboard, but you can bring your own portable concentrator if it is a FAA approved model.
- High altitude travel is stressful on the body. Your child may need more oxygen than normal during the trip. Check with your doctor to see what amount of oxygen your child will require when flying. Most chILD patients need higher oxygen flow when flying due to pressurization of the plane.
- Arrange to have oxygen delivered to your destination – most DMEs can help you with this.
- Travel with a doctor’s statement about your child’s oxygen needs or a prescription. Many airlines have their own forms that your child’s doctor can fill-out and sign.
Airline and Other Travel Information
The following information can help you better understand your air travel options.
Air Charity Network
ACN, formerly Angel Flight America, provides access for people in need seeking free air transportation to specialized health care facilities or distant destinations due to family, community or national crisis.
FAA Ruling on Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POCs)
FAA document that details that airlines MUST permit portable oxygen concentrators on flights.
Airsep Free Style – FAA approved Pulse Flow POC
- Oxygen Concentration:* 1-3 pulse settings equivalent to continuous flow of 90% oxygen
- Dimensions: 8.6 in. high x 6.1 in. wide x 3.6 in. deep
- Weight: 4.4 lb. (2 kg), 1.8 lb. (.8 kg) optional AirBelt
- Battery duration: 3 Lpm – 2 hours; 2 Lpm – 2.5 hours; 1 Lpm – 3.5 hours
- Optional AirBelt when combined with the internal battery: 3 Lpm – 5 hours; 2 Lpm – 6 hours;
- 1 Lpm – 10 hours
Sequal Eclipse – FAA approved POC
The Eclipse is the only oxygen concentrator on the market today that provides continuous flow or pulse dose option.
Inogen – FAA approved POC
- Weight: 9.8 lbs. (Device 8.3 lbs.; Battery 1.5 lbs.)
- Size: 11.6″ L x 6″ H
- Height (including handle): 12.4″
- Oxygen Flow: Pulse dose delivery system. Five flow settings from 1-5
- Power Sensing: AC power supply 100-240V, 50-60Hz (auto sensing to allow worldwide use)
- Mobile Power Charger for mobile DC use (will recharge battery)