Travelling With Oxygen

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Travelling With Oxygen

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Travelling while you are on oxygen therapy usually is possible if you plan ahead.

Travel by plane:

  • You cannot take your own oxygen tanks on an airplane. You may pack empty oxygen tanks in your checked luggage. You can get these filled at your destination. The airline will supply oxygen while you are in flight but may charge you for it. You will likely have to pay for oxygen for each leg of a trip. And airlines usually do not supply oxygen during layovers, so try to book a direct flight.
  • Some airlines may allow you to bring a portable oxygen concentrator on board the airplane. If you use a portable oxygen concentrator, call your airline well ahead of time to find out if concentrators are allowed on the airplane. Some models of portable oxygen concentrator may not be allowed.
  • Several days before your flight, notify the airline that you will need oxygen. You will need a medical release from your doctor stating that you are able to fly. You will also need a prescription that lists the flow rate and amount of oxygen you use. If you use a portable oxygen concentrator, you will need to be able to respond to any alarms on the device.
  • If you need oxygen during a layover, you should arrange for your oxygen supplier to bring tanks to the airport.
  • Some airlines may require a person on oxygen therapy to travel with a companion.

Travel by cruise ship:

  • You can take your own oxygen tanks or concentrator on a cruise ship. Or you can arrange for a supplier to deliver oxygen to the ship before it leaves the dock. You should take enough oxygen to last the entire cruise.
  • About 2 to 3 weeks before you travel, notify the cruise line about your oxygen needs. Bring a medical release from your doctor stating that you are able to take a cruise. You will also need a prescription that lists the flow rate and amount of oxygen you use.
  • If you plan to leave the ship to go sightseeing, you may want to have an oxygen supplier bring a tank for you to use while you are onshore.
  • If you need to have a supplier deliver oxygen for your cruise, it is best to leave from and return to the same city. If you don't, you may have to pay to ship the oxygen equipment back to the city where the ship originally departed.

Travel by train or bus:

  • You can take your own oxygen tanks or concentrator on a bus or train.
  • Notify the train or bus company that you will be travelling with oxygen. Bring a medical release from your doctor stating that you are able to travel. You may also need a prescription that lists the flow rate and amount of oxygen you use.
  • Make sure that the train or bus stops at cities where you can get your tanks refilled.
  • If you travel by train, you will need to book a non-smoking car.
  • If you take a concentrator on a train, you may not always have electricity available, so bring a battery backup with you.
  • Train or bus companies may limit the number or weight of tanks you can carry on. Be sure you learn the rules before you travel.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Ken Y. Yoneda, MD - Pulmonology
Last Revised July 9, 2010

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