Q: My mother is currently on oxygen and would like some information regarding FAA-approved devices that would enable her to fly. She noticed in a past AARP article that there was mention of such devices (i.e. AirSep Lifestyle, Inogen One, SeQual Eclipse, Oxlife Independence). We would like more information.
- Lisa Merlino, Las Vegas
"...plan ahead for any possible delays. And look for non-stop or direct flights and flights with electronic outlets."
It wasn't that many years ago when oxygen therapy patients could say sayonara to even thinking about air travel. It goes without saying that a compressed oxygen tank, which could explode if dropped, is not something anyone would want on a plane.
Luckily for your mom, Lisa, oxygen therapy patients can now use a portable oxygen concentrator — or "POC" — for in-flight use. POCs are light, easy to travel with and, for the most part, FAA-approved. They can be placed under your seat during flight and can be battery-powered when not plugged into an electrical socket.
You're right, there are several brands of POCs on the market, but I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV. Deciding which device is best for you is something you'll need to discuss with your doctor.
You'll need to speak with him or her anyway, because many airlines require a signed physician's statement, dated within a few days of your departure, in order to use a POC. You'll also need a copy of your prescription for oxygen to carry with you at all times.
Planning ahead is a necessary part of taking a POC with you on an airplane and every airline has its own policy for on-board oxygen transport and in-flight oxygen usage. Before you purchase tickets, I'd suggest contacting the airline to find out their policies regarding oxygen; otherwise you might be in for an unpleasant surprise.
You'll also need to arrive at the airport one to two hours ahead of your flight time, and charge your batteries in advance or bring extras. Remember, you have to be able to cover all your travel time including the drive to the airport, waiting time, flight time and the time it will take you to deplane, pick up your checked baggage and travel to your final destination.
Bottom line: plan ahead for any possible delays. And look for non-stop or direct flights and flights with electronic outlets. Follow my advice, and you'll be breathing easy on your next trip.