International Travel

Portable Oxygen Concentrators and International Travel

If you are prescribed medical oxygen and are planning a trip abroad, using an FAA Approved Portable Oxygen Concentrator is an option for you. Proper planning is key to a successful trip around the world. There are many places to see, do not let oxygen slow you down.

Physician Approval

Portable Oxygen Concentrators require a prescription for oxygen. A physician may prescribe a higher flow rate for in-flight than what is needed on the ground. Each airline has their own physician statements that need to be signed and carried with you on the plane. It is important to know your in flight oxygen requirements first, and then worry about finding the correct equipment for your needs along with extra batteries. Some airlines have specific steps that need to be taken to fly with a portable oxygen concentrator, like faxing signed forms to a 3rd party for approval.

International Airline Provided Oxygen

Many International air carriers offer therapeutic medical oxygen on board certain flights.  It is very important to research all the air-carriers flying to and from where you wish to travel. Find out which airlines offer oxygen and what the costs are associated with it. Some airlines may offer at no cost, a source of oxygen for your flight. Most airlines will charge for this service. It is important know your options for in-flight oxygen from each available air carrier. Some airlines do not offer oxygen on their flights.

Portable Oxygen Concentrator Airline Battery Rules

All air carriers flying in and out of the US must allow the use of FAA Approved Portable Oxygen Concentrators. Each airline has their own rules about traveling with a portable oxygen concentrator. Always refer to your airline’s website for current rules, policies and procedures. Most airlines have a 150% rule regarding extra batteries needed for the trip. If you’re on a 5 hour flight, you need to bring on board, 7.5 hours of battery. Not so bad, if you’re at the most common liter flow setting of 2 and are on a short flight. Some machines can last up to 7.5-8 hours on 1 battery like the Inogen One G2 or a machine like the Phillips Respironics EverGo which holds 2 batteries at the same time. However, there are plenty of long haul flights out there. In some case it can take more than 24 hours to get around the world to where you need to go. Some airlines require travel time plus 3 hours. Per the airline’s requirements, this means a lot of extra batteries.

Traveling with extra batteries needs to be well thought out and planned for. Additional bags are needed to carry additional equipment. Battery management will be important, mark each battery to keep track of which is fully charged or empty. Always use electricity when you’re around it, in between flights or in car rides. Some manufacturers make external battery chargers, so more than 1 battery can be charged at the same time. All of the FAA Approved Portable Oxygen Concentrators are multivoltage, meaning they do not require a powered inverter. Only travel adapters, which change the shape of the plug are needed. A powered inverter could destroy a multivoltage portable oxygen concentrator. Travel with a power strip with multiple outlets, like from behind your desktop computer. Then you only need 1 travel adapter to plug in multiple devices.

It is critical to understand the battery duration of the portable oxygen concentrator that is being used. Batteries do not last as long at higher flow rates or settings. It takes more power to produce higher deliveries of oxygen, thus the battery will deplete faster than at lower flow rates. Also know the difference between pulse and continuous flow delivery. The continuous flow machines weigh more and have bigger batteries that do not last as long as the smaller pulse delivery portable oxygen concentrator.

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