Traveling with a Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) gives you the independence to go where you want without worry. You can take the POC on an airplane, cruise, train, bus or car. We highly recommend that you bring a copy of your current oxygen prescription as well as the Quick Start User Guide, Troubleshooting Guide, and User’s Manual with you for any travel event. Here are important and helpful tips for traveling with a POC:
Traveling by Air:
- All U.S. carriers conducting passenger services (except for on-demand air taxi operations) must permit any individual with a disability to use a POC in the passenger cabin during air transportation, as long as the device meets FAA Requirements. All Foreign Airlines must allow use of approved devices on all flights to and from U.S. soil.
- Prior to the flight, both a passenger intending to use a POC on an aircraft and the operator of the aircraft on which the POC is intended to be used are responsible for determining whether the POC satisfies the FAA acceptance criteria.
- The passenger and the aircraft operator can determine whether the POC conforms to the acceptance criteria through a visual inspection of the device to locate the manufacturer’s label indicating such conformance. The POC provided to you bears the required label written in Red lettering on the back of the device.
- If the POC you are using does not bear this label in red lettering, it is listed on the FAA’s List of previously approved POCs for use on aircraft. See full list at www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/cabin_safety/portable_oxygen
- Passengers are expected to inform the airlines about the intended use of a POC on board. Most airlines require individuals who wish to use a POC on aircraft to contact them a minimum of 48 hours prior to the scheduled departure. Every airline is different, so make sure to ask about specific regulations and restrictions that may apply when carrying oxygen on board your flight.
- The FAA no longer requires passengers using a POC on board to obtain and present a physician’s statement; however, some airlines continue to require a physician statement. It is always recommended to consult with your physician in preparation for traveling to discuss:
- Your oxygen needs at the time of travel and understanding of the use of the POC.
- Effects of cabin pressurization and any adjustments in flow rate in liters per minute that you may require during the flight.
- Certain key provisions in the POC operating manual regarding oxygen delivery, indicators, warnings, and alerts, as well as setting/changing liter flow or LPM.
- Length of flight, layovers, and advice regarding duration of POC use and batteries needed.
- You will be responsible for the operation of the POC on board the aircraft and therefore, it is recommended that you carry with you the Quick Start User Guide, Troubleshooting Guide and User Manual and any other written information provided by your healthcare professional regarding POC use.
- It is recommended, and the Airline may require, travelers to carry enough fully charged batteries required to operate the POC for at least 150% of the expected maximum flight duration (including the total duration of the flight from arrival gate and any possible delays that may occur during a flight). It is your responsibility to carry the appropriate amount of batteries to last the entire duration of the trip.
- Spare Batteries are not permitted in checked baggage and must be placed in your carry-on luggage. Spare Batteries must also be stored in the provided bags and/or boxes they were delivered to you in order to avoid potential battery overheating or fires.
- Make sure all of your batteries are fully charged before you depart to the airport. While waiting to board your flight, you can conserve battery power by powering the POC from an electrical outlet. The airport staff should be able to assist you in finding an available electrical outlet. POC users should never rely on having available onboard aircraft electrical outlets during a flight to power the POC.
- Use the pulse oximeter to keep track of your oxygen levels. Differences in altitude, increased activity and other factors can contribute to changes in your oxygen saturation levels.
- The POC should be placed underneath the seat in front of you so that you or your attendant can see the warning lights and/or hear the audible warning. Placement directly under the seat and placement in a closed compartment would prohibit you from seeing the warning lights, as well as possibly prohibiting you from hearing audible warnings. Other placement locations may be acceptable.
- In order for a POC to work efficiently, the air/intake filter must not be blocked during use. Therefore, the area around the POC should be clear of blankets, coats, and other pieces of carry-on baggage that may block the air/intake filter. If the air/intake filter is blocked, two things will occur. First, the POC user will be alerted by warning lights and audible alerts that the oxygen concentration in the POC output is low. Second, when the temperature of the POC internal components increases to a certain limit because the POC is still trying to dispense oxygen, the POC will automatically shut down to prevent overheating of the POC and you will be alerted by warning lights and audible alerts.
- Make sure to check with the airline to confirm your seat assignment is suitable for the POC. The FAA prohibits any person using a POC from occupying any seat in an exit row.
- Detailed information that is pertinent to passengers using respiratory devices, including POCs, may be obtained from the TSA at https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures.
- Security Screening. The following general security screening considerations apply to POCs:
- The limit of one carry-on and one personal item (e.g., purse, briefcase, or computer case) does not apply to medical supplies, equipment, mobility aids, and/or assistive devices carried by and/or used by a person with a disability.
- If you have medical documentation regarding your medical condition or disability, you can present this information to the screener to help inform him or her of your situation. This documentation is not required and will not exempt you from the security screening process.
Traveling by Cruise:
- Contact the cruise line ahead of time to let them know that you will be bringing a POC on board and to see if there are any specific requirements. The cruise line may require a letter from your physician and/or a current oxygen prescription.
- Confirm that the cruise line can accommodate the POC’s AC or DC power charging requirements.
- When in your cabin, keep the POC plugged into an electrical outlet and use the battery power for ship activities outside of your cabin.
- The cruise ship may also offer AC electrical outlets throughout the ship. To save on battery power, you may want to try to locate an electrical outlet in areas such as the dining room and any recreational areas of the ship.
- Arrive at the port early in case the security personnel need to inspect the device.
- The cruise line may have oxygen supply onboard but for emergency use only.
Traveling by Train:
- Contact the train line ahead of time and inform them that you will be bringing a POC on board and to see if there are any specific requirements.
- When making a reservation, try to request a seat with a power port, if available.
- If using Amtrak, Amtrak requires you to follow these guidelines:
- You must notify Amtrak at least 12 hours prior to your train’s boarding time of your need to bring oxygen.
- You must have medical necessity to bring oxygen aboard.
- Our oxygen equipment cannot rely solely on train-provided electrical power.
- Arrive at the train station early in case security personnel need to inspect the device.
- There may not be power available while on the train, so it is recommended to bring enough spare batteries to last at least 150% of the travel time.
Traveling by Bus:
- Contact the bus line ahead of time to let them know that you will be bringing a POC on board and to see if there are any specific requirements.
- Arrive at the bus station early in case the security personnel need to inspect the device.
- There may not be power available on the bus, so it is recommended to bring enough spare batteries to last at least 150% of the travel time.
Traveling by Car:
- You can plug the POC into your car through the DC car adaptor and it will charge the battery while operating and provide endless hours of oxygen therapy. This gives you the freedom to travel across town or across the country without having to worry about running out of oxygen.
- A POC can easily fit behind the driver or passenger seat.
- It is not recommended to leave the unit in the car when not in use as intense heat exposure for a prolonged period of time could damage the unit.