Flying with a Portable Oxygen Concentrator

The American Medical Association reports that more than 30 million Americans have chronic lung disease and an estimated 800,000 to 1 million require home oxygen therapy.1 Travelers with respiratory illnesses must have portable oxygen concentrators or POCs readily available.

Man with portable oxygen concentrator

Portable oxygen concentrators filter ambient air to generate supplemental oxygen. In 2016, the FAA updated its approval process for portable oxygen concentrators. Here is a list of POCs that meet FAA requirements for in-flight use.2

For individuals who suffer from a respiratory disease that requires supplemental oxygen, use the checklist to ensure a smooth flight with your POC.

Check if Your Portable Oxygen Concentrator is FAA Approved

A portable oxygen concentrator device will clearly indicate if it is FAA approved on the product label or within the manual. While considering which POC to purchase, double-check that the unit is FAA-approved if you intend to use it for in-flight use.

Here are some top picks for travelers who need to carry their oxygen concentrator on a flight.

Philips Respironics SimplyGo Mini Portable Oxygen ConcentratorPhilips Respironics SimplyGo Mini Portable Concentrator

  • Weight: 5-6 lbs with battery
  • Flow Settings: 1-5 pulse dose only
  • Sound: 43 dBA at 2 pulse
  • Altitude: up to 10,000 feet
  • FAA-approved

PhPhilips Respironics SimplyGo Portable Oxygen ConcentratorPhilips Respironics SimplyGo Portable Oxygen Concentrator

  • Weight: 10 lbs with battery
  • Flow Settings: 1-6 pulse dose or 0.5-2 LPM continuous flow
  • Sound: 43 dBA at 2 pulse
  • Altitude: up to 10,000 feet
  • FAA-approved

Inogen One G4 Portable ConcentratorInogen One G4 Portable Concentrator

  • Weight: 2.8-3.3 lbs with battery
  • Flow Settings: 1-3 pulse dose only
  • Sound: 40 dBA at 2 pulse
  • Altitude: up to 10,000 feet
  • FAA-approved

DeVilbiss iGo Portable Oxygen Concentrator with Wheeled CaseDeVilbiss iGo Portable Concentrator

  • Weight: 19 lbs with battery
  • Flow Settings: 1-5 pulse dose or 1-3 LPM continuous flow
  • Sound: 40 dBA at 3 pulse
  • Altitude: up to 13,123 feet
  • FAA-approved

Operation Altitude of Other Oxygen Concentrators

Oxygen Concentrator

Maximum Altitude

SeQual Eclipse 5

13,123 feet

AirSep Freestyle

12,000 feet

Respironics SimplyGo

10,000 feet

Inogen One G3

10,000 feet

Respironics SimplyGo Mini

10,000 feet

Inogen One G4

10,000 feet

Inogen One G5

10,000 feet

CAIRE Freestyle Comfort

10,000 feet

ResMed Mobi

10,000 feet

Inogen At Home 5L

10,000 feet

Caire Companion 5

9,878 feet

Invacare Perfecto

13,129 feet

Respironics EverFlo

7,500 feet

Flying with a Portable Oxygen Concentrator

Things to Consider Before Your Flight

Here are some factors that you need to check before flying with a portable oxygen concentrator:

Physician Involvement

Be sure your doctor knows you will be traveling and make sure you have all contact information for that doctor in the event of an emergency while away from home.

FAA Compliance

Make sure that the portable oxygen concentrator you plan to take on your trip is FAA approved. That way you can use it during the flight if you have trouble breathing.

Battery Requirements

Make sure you have enough battery power to recharge your portable oxygen concentrator while away from home. Consider backup batteries if you might be away from power sources such as on a camping trip.

Things to Consider During Your Flight

Here are some factors that you need to check when flying with a portable oxygen concentrator:

Device Storage

Be sure you have proper storage for your portable oxygen concentrator and accessories. You want your device to be safe during the trip and also easy to carry as you travel.

Device Manual

Bring along your portable oxygen concentrator manual. You may need it if you run into troubleshooting problems with your portable oxygen concentrator. The manual provides a handy reference to resolve common issues.

Cabin Pressure

Check to see the cabin pressure of your flight and if your portable oxygen concentrator will work with that pressure. You may need to stow your POC until you arrive if it does not adapt to your flight’s cabin pressure.

Seating Requirements

Sometimes you may have certain seating requirements because you will be using your portable oxygen concentrator during the flight. Make sure that the seat you have selected meets the airline requirements for those using oxygen onboard.

Things to Consider After Your Flight

Prepare for your flight with your portable oxygen concentrator in mind. Follow a few tips to ensure a safe and uneventful trip. A little preparation can ensure peace of mind for your flight.

Keep your Documents in a Safe Place

Medical documents and documents related to your POC need to be stowed away in a safe place. You want them to be accessible if needed and you don’t want them to get lost.

Recharge Your Batteries

Recharge the batteries of your POC before you get on board, that way you have a fully charged portable oxygen concentrator if you need to use your therapy.

References:

  • American Lung Association. Lung Health & Diseases. Accessed September 2019.
  • Federal Aviation Administration. FAA Approved Portable Oxygen Concentrators – Positive Testing Results. 2015 Oct 7.  
  • Philips Respironics. Philips SimplyGo Mini portable oxygen concentrator conforms to FAA standards, now available for onboard aircraft use. 2015 Jul 21.