Traveling With Oxygen

Overview

Traveling while you are on oxygen therapy usually is possible if you plan ahead.

  • Start by seeing your doctor several weeks to months before your travel date. Ask your doctor to:
    • Figure out how much oxygen you will need.
    • Complete the medical forms that are needed for travel. This may include at least one copy of your oxygen prescription to take with you.
    • Recommend a doctor in the places where you will travel, in case you need medical care during your trip.
  • Learn how to use a portable oxygen tank. Know how long it will last. Bring refills if needed.
  • Get a portable oxygen concentrator and learn how to use it. Some types of oxygen concentrators can be taken on airplanes, cruise ships, buses, and trains.

Travel by plane

  • When booking your flight, notify the airline that you will need oxygen. You will need a medical release from your doctor stating that you are able to fly. You will also need a prescription that lists the flow rate and amount of oxygen you use.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved several models of portable oxygen concentrators that can be brought on an airplane. Ask your oxygen supplier about renting a portable oxygen concentrator. Whether you rent the device or use your own, it must be FAA-approved. If you use a portable oxygen concentrator, you will need to be able to respond to any alarms on the device.
  • Make sure that you bring enough batteries to power your portable oxygen concentrator device before, during, and after your flight. And bring extra batteries in case you have travel delays. When possible, plug in your portable oxygen concentrator into an electrical outlet to save battery power when waiting at the airport.
  • You cannot take your own oxygen tanks on an airplane. You may be able to pack empty oxygen tanks in your checked luggage. You can get these filled at your destination.
  • You can arrange for your oxygen supplier to bring oxygen tanks to the airport if you have a long layover.
  • Think about asking a friend or relative to travel with you. They can help you with all the details.

For more information, call your airline and the Transportation Security Administration at 1-855-787-2227 (toll-free).

Travel by cruise ship

  • When booking your cruise, notify the cruise line about your oxygen needs. Bring a medical release from your doctor stating that you are able to take a cruise. You will also need a prescription that lists the flow rate and amount of oxygen you use.
  • You can take your own oxygen tanks or concentrator on a cruise ship. Or you can arrange for a supplier to deliver oxygen to the ship before it leaves the dock. You should take enough oxygen to last the entire cruise.
  • If you plan to leave the ship to go sightseeing, you may want to have an oxygen supplier bring a tank for you to use while you are onshore.
  • If you need to have a supplier deliver oxygen for your cruise, it is best to leave from and return to the same city. If you don't, you may have to pay to ship the oxygen equipment back to the city where the ship originally departed.

Travel by train or bus

  • Notify the train or bus company that you will be traveling with oxygen. Bring a medical release from your doctor stating that you are able to travel. You may also need a prescription that lists the flow rate and amount of oxygen you use.
  • You can take your own oxygen equipment on a bus or train. But there may be a weight limit. You may need to bring extra batteries. Be sure you learn the rules before you travel.
  • Make sure that the bus or train stops at cities where you can get your tanks refilled, if needed.
  • You may not always have electricity available, so bring a battery backup with you.

Credits

Current as of: March 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Hasmeena Kathuria MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine