Oxygen Concentrator Travel Tips

Have you been limited on your travel plans due to oxygen problems? Portable oxygen concentrator are the best solution, that can help you travel again and give you your active life back. Read our tips to help you travel better with oxygen, and don’t forget to take into consideration changes in time zones and increased activity.

#1 Talk your doctor before traveling

Make an appointment with your doctor for travel clearance, especially if you've been hospitalized recently.

#2 Have travel paperwork completed

Get a letter from your doctor that verifies all of your medications, including oxygen.

#3 Have a copy of your oxygen prescription

You will need to show your prescription to travel security, so be sure to carry it with you.

#4 Don't forget to carry contact info for your:

  • Doctor
  • Respiratory therapist
  • Oxygen supplier
  • Home healthcare representative

#5 Have enough medication to last the whole trip

Remember to take all medication and supplies in your carry-on bag. Keep a list of current medications with you when traveling.

#6 Keep some type of emergency medical identification on you at all times.

#7 Call your home healthcare company

Tell them when and where you are going and how you will be traveling there. They can help in arranging to have oxygen when you reach your destination.

#8 Make sure you know how to use your portable oxygen concentrator. 

Try operating it on all types of power: AC, DC, and battery. Test how long your batteries last at your dosage or liter flow level.

#9 Call your travel carrier

Call your airline, cruise ship, or bus company before departure to check for any special requirements.

#10 Check with your healthcare provider if you have further questions.

Traveling By Airplane

Call the airlines several weeks before your flight to obtain their rules to carry oxygen and make arrangements for any special accommodations. The airline may require a letter from your physician, some medical history, and a current oxygen prescription. Have all of these documents before your flight will ensure a much easier transition and travel.

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 backup batteries.

Keep your unit charged on AC power while you are waiting for boarding or during any layovers. Do not count on 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. If you are unable to locate an outlet, ask at the check-in counter for assistance or if they know of an outlet you could use.
Another tip is to 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 longer battery duration while using a pulse dose setting over continuous flow.
Make sure that you carry your 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 usage. It’s very important that you know what your oxygen levels are while traveling.
Ask check-in desk if you can be board the plane first so you can store your POC properly without having to move around other passengers. Many of the units we carry easily 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 guidelinesrequire 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.

Here is a list of some of the major airlines and links with their policies regarding portable oxygen concentrators: 

Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines Travel Information
United Airlines
United Airlines Travel Information
American Airlines
American Airlines Travel Information
Delta Airlines
Delta Airlines Travel Information
Frontier Airlines
Frontier Airlines Travel Information
JetBlue Airlines Travel Information
Southwest Airlines Travel Information
Virgin America
Virgin American Airlines Travel Information
Virgin Atlantic
Atlantic Airlines Travel Information
Air Canada
Air Canada Airlines Travel Information
Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines Travel Information
U.S. Airways
U.S. Airlines Travel Information
West jet
West Jet Travel Information

Traveling By Automobile

All of our portable concentrators come with a DC power supply that plugs into a car cigarette lighter.
Several (but not all) units charge the battery under this DC power. Please ask our sales team or support staff for specific information on your unit. One POC 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 staff 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 By Cruise Ship

Touch base with the cruise line several weeks before your vacation and let them know that you will be coming 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 supply 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 lines typically do not supply any kind of oxygen and if they do, it would be in emergency situations only.

The cruise line will need:

  • Letter from your doctor
  • Some medical history
  • Current oxygen prescription

Medical recommendations sourced in part from my.clevelandclinic.org

Here is a list of some of the major cruise lines with links regarding the policies on oxygen:

Carnival Cruises
Carnival Cruises Travel Information
Disney Cruise Lines
Disney Cruise Lines Travel Information
Royal Caribbean Cruises
Royal Caribbean Cruises Travel Information
Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises Travel Information