For many, air travel can be a stressful and anxious time. However, for travelers with lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema, decreased oxygen levels inside airplane cabins can create a number of problems not experienced by healthy passengers.
To ensure safe travels for these passengers, proper precautions must be taken. One way to ensure changes in oxygen level do not affect passengers is to take a low oxygen simulation test prior to air travel. This test will determine the need for oxygen supplements onboard an airplane—where oxygen levels are typically 25% lower than at ground level. Patients with heart and lung conditions should also consult with their clinician prior to making travel arrangements to ensure that they are healthy enough to fly.
Those people requiring portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) must contact their airline prior to their desired travel date to make arrangements for oxygen supplements on board. While all airlines operating in the United States are now required to allow Department of Transportation (DOT) approved POCs to be carried on and used onboard, policies may vary between airlines. To ensure smooth travels, always verify these policies with the airline when you make your reservation.
For information on which devices are approved by the DOT and specific airline information, visit www.airlineoxygencouncil.org.
March 12, 2014
Preparing for Airline Travel
For sufferers of chronic lung conditions such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the use of supplemental oxygen may be necessary at some point in your treatment plan.