Any airline passenger requiring medical oxygen has a long list of approved portable oxygen concentrators (POC) models and brands that they can now choose from. Effective as of Feb 3rd, 2014 there are even more approved portable oxygen concentrators approved for airline travel.
Now other brands of portable oxygen concentrators may be carried in the cabin, but the batteries have to be removed. Also new portable oxygen concentrators are being approved each year, so it is always best to contact the airlines before purchasing tickets.
WHY IS APPROVAL NEEDED?
It came to be from the “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel” ruling. This ruling allowed the use of respiratory assisting devices on airlines. These concentrators provide oxygen at greater than 90% concentrators to the people that need them. They do not use compressed or liquid oxygen. The government classifies those two things as hazardous materials and will not allow them on board an aircraft. Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) do not actually contain or generate oxygen, they concentrate it Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) do not actually contain or generate oxygen, they concentrate it from the ambient air.from the ambient air. DOT (Department of Transportation) now requires US airlines and foreign airlines that are flying into the United States to allow passengers to use and travel with portable oxygen concentrators.
Whichever oxygen concentrator you are traveling with is required to display a manufacturer's label indicating they meet FAA requirements. Now DOT does encourage that airlines still allow you to travel even if it’s not labeled with the FAA requirements, but it’s recommended to speak with the airlines before attempting to travel that way.
BEFORE YOU CHOOSE AN AIRLINES
Even if your portable concentrator is approved for airline travel, it is recommended that you contact the airlines to let them know you will be traveling with one.
Depending on the power with your portable oxygen concentrator, contact the airlines about the compatible electrical power outlets onboard.
Request an airline seat near or with an electrical outlet.
Make sure to check your battery life for the length of your flight and to your final destination. Also, if you have may run into unexpected delays.
Ask the airlines if they provide backup oxygen. Many do, but some do not.
Ask the airlines if there is an extra charge for carrying a POC on board.
PHYSICIAN INFORMATION / DOCTOR’S STATEMENT
Most airlines require a signed statement from your physician which includes information about your sight and hearing (that you can see and listen to warnings), as well as when oxygen is needed during your flight. Is it just part of the time or the entire time? Also have him note the flow rate needed for the air pressure in the cabin of the airplane.
Each airline that requires a physician’s statement has a specific form. You should visit the airline’s website or contact the airlines direct for more information on where to find their required statement.
Up to 48 hours before your flight, again let the airlines know that you are traveling with a POC.
Make sure your portable oxygen concentrator is in good working condition. That way there are no issues while you are traveling.
Make sure you have enough battery power to cover the flight (some airlines require enough battery time for 150% of the flight’s time) and any possible delays you may encounter boarding or exiting the aircraft. Some airlines such as United require the flight time plus 3 hours of oxygen. Most national and International airlines have electrical outlets for power, but many smaller regional airlines do not.
You should arrive earlier than usual to the airport, as it will take longer for airport security as they may need extra time to screen your portable oxygen concentrator.
While waiting for your flight, you should find an outlet in your boarding terminal to charge your concentrator even more before you board your flight.
If bringing spare batteries, they must be protected from damage and short circuit.
DURING YOUR FLIGHT
When you take your seat, look for the electrical power outlet. If you are unable to find one, ask a flight attendant for assistance in locating it.
When you take your seat, ask the flight attendant where you should store your concentrator when taking off and landing.
Depending on your physician’s statement, it may or may not be necessary for you to turn off the unit during take-off and landing.
Keep the physician’s statement with you as they may need to inspect it while on the plane.
AFTER YOUR FLIGHT
Just remember to recharge the batteries before your returning flight.
If you would like more information about the Department of Transportation with regards to portable oxygen concentrators,here is a link to the official statement. If you have questions about these portable oxygen concentrators please call us at 540-297-3257.
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