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Flying with supplemental oxygen

Related article: Supplemental oxygen

In air travel, the airplane often flies at about 30,000 feet, with the cabin pressure adjusted to between 5,000 to 8,000 feet. This is equivalent to being at high altitude and the oxygen level may drop compared to the sea level value. A person who usually only uses night-time oxygen may need supplemental oxygen during air travel.

Patients' physicians should determine the oxygen flow which is usually available either with 2 or 4 liters per minute. Some people only need to be sure a small portable oxygen tank will be available in order to get on and off the plane or leave their seat to use the bathroom.

Patients may not be allowed to use your own oxygen tanks during flight. Instead, most airlines provide a person with oxygen for an extra fee. Charges can range from $50 to $150 for each leg of one's trip.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers tips for air travelers requiring supplemental oxygen. Breathin' Easy has this guide for air travelers with pulmonary disabilities.

Patient experiences

Flying is tough when you need extra oxygen and you could have run into trouble. The fisherman's thing was passing out on the plane right after he ate. He did that a number of times before we realized what was going on.

The fisherman has flown three times with oxygen this past year and found that he has needed it in the air. The last time he was feeling better when we flew to the LA conference and didn't need it in the airports while waiting. He was using Oxygen tanks at that time and the airline only provided the tanks while on the plane.

You are lucky that you have a portable Oxygen machine, it is so much more convenient than tanks. You can use it in the airport while you are waiting and you will need it if there are any ramps. BUT don't walk up any ramps. Notify the airlines that you are coming (I think they need 48 hrs) and you are using oxygen and will need a wheelchair. You have probably told them that you will be bringing oxygen. Check that they allow the portable concentrator and won't insist that you purchase their oxygen. (at up to $150 per leg of the flight)

Now about the wheelchair!! I struggled with the fisherman about the need for a wheelchair. He was all against it, said he could make it fine and he didn't need it. Male pride. But I insisted. After the trip he had changed his mind. It was great. They will pick you up at the counter and will drive you through the airport, sometimes taking side entrances to avoid all the crowds, take you to the head of the line in security and get you to the plane on time. We had a tight connection in Calgary last June and if we hadn't had the wheelchair and attendant with her walkie-talkie we would have been very stressed. I would have needed oxygen too.

Are you traveling from a small airport? If you have to walk up the stairs to the plane tell them you can't make it and they will put you into the plane with the lift that they deliver the food with. The fisherman enjoyed that ride, said he felt like a grocery delivery.

Your travel agent should be able to make all the arrangements. Have a great trip out west. Wish you were coming a little farther, then we could say hello in person. If you have anyother questions about flying with O2, just PM us.
jill and the fisherman, MarshallProtocol.com

Notes and comments

these tips for air travelers broke, perhaps can find info andd fix

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home/othertreatments/oxygen/flying.txt · Last modified: 10.17.2018 by sallieq
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