Traveling with portable oxygen

By Emily Langston
This item appears on page 33 of the November 2016 issue.
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Since being diagnosed in early 2013 with a heart condition, one requiring me to use supplemental oxygen, I’ve continued traveling both domestically and internationally. When planning a trip, however, I first consult my doctor to seek his opinion, making sure he sees no problem with my destination. Clearly, altitude, climate and the availability of nearby medical facilities enter into my plans.

Airline websites have medical forms that can be downloaded, filled out and signed by your doctor. These forms list the types of oxygen equipment that are acceptable on the aircraft. They also require you to indicate how many hours you’ll be in flight and how many batteries you’ll be carrying with you. (Some aircraft now have electric outlets from which batteries can be recharged during flight, but you cannot depend on those always being available, so extra batteries are a necessity.)

You or your doctor must fax the completed form to the airline well in advance of travel. It is wise to check with the airline ahead of time to be sure this information has been received and entered into your personal travel reservation record. Plan to carry a copy with you to present when you check in.

For domestic trips, I usually travel with Delta Air Lines, which has a special desk set up to handle records requiring special assistance such as this. I’m sure most major airlines have similar arrangements.

I also arrange in advance with the company I use for home respiratory care, Lincare (Clearwater, FL; 800/284-2006, www.lincare.com), to have a home oxygen concentrator waiting at the hotel when I arrive. This, of course, is prepaid.

In addition to arranging for that unit, I take with me from home my personal portable oxygen concentrator, rented from Lincare, and use it on the airplane. This portable unit can be carried in a car to where it will be used, as I’ve done when traveling to a private home.

As for international travel, so far my trips have been to London, which I have visited a half-dozen times. I located an oxygen supplier in England, Pure 02 (Viking House, 71 Princess Rd., Urmston, Manchester, England, M41 5ST, U.K.; phone +44 161 747 2617, www.healthoxygen.com). They deliver the oxygen unit to a designated address in London, where it is in place when I arrive. (Paul Stoops at Pure 02 has been most helpful.) I pay in advance by way of MasterCard or Visa.

In addition, while I am sure the oxygen provider in London would also have portable units available for rental, I take my own, though I have to be sure to take the correct adapters/converters for UK use.

I carry my portable oxygen unit with me wherever I go, including to restaurants, plays, etc., though I have not yet traveled with it by car in Europe.

I need only a pulse supply, except at night while I’m sleeping. Those who need a continuous supply of oxygen may have other concerns. Again, check with your doctor long before making travel plans. 

I’ve been in the travel business for over 35 years and am currently only semiretired, so when the need came along that I would require supplemental oxygen, it seemed rather daunting at first.

Now I realize that most of the traveling I might do will still be possible. I haven’t experienced cruising or rail travel yet, but I’m sure that portable oxygen could be arranged for those trips too.

My advice is to not stop but to make your plans in advance and keep traveling!

If anyone has questions, send me an email at elangs@comcast.net.

EMILY LANGSTON

Atlanta, GA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Since being diagnosed in early 2013 with a heart condition, one requiring me to use supplemental oxygen, I’ve continued traveling both domestically and internationally. When planning a trip, however, I first consult my doctor to seek his opinion, making sure he sees no problem with my destination. Clearly, altitude, climate and the availability of nearby medical facilities enter into my plans.

Airline websites have medical forms that can be downloaded, filled out and signed by your doctor. These forms list the types of oxygen equipment that are acceptable on the aircraft. They also require you to indicate how many hours you’ll be in flight and how many batteries you’ll be carrying with you. (Some aircraft now have electric outlets from which batteries can be recharged during flight, but you cannot depend on those always being available, so extra batteries are a necessity.)

You or your doctor must fax the completed form to the airline well in advance of travel. It is wise to check with the airline ahead of time to be sure this information has been received and entered into your personal travel reservation record. Plan to carry a copy with you to present when you check in.

For domestic trips, I usually travel with Delta Air Lines, which has a special desk set up to handle records requiring special assistance such as this. I’m sure most major airlines have similar arrangements.

I also arrange in advance with the company I use for home respiratory care, Lincare (Clearwater, FL; 800/284-2006, www.lincare.com), to have a home oxygen concentrator waiting at the hotel when I arrive. This, of course, is prepaid.

In addition to arranging for that unit, I take with me from home my personal portable oxygen concentrator, rented from Lincare, and use it on the airplane. This portable unit can be carried in a car to where it will be used, as I’ve done when traveling to a private home.

As for international travel, so far my trips have been to London, which I have visited a half-dozen times. I located an oxygen supplier in England, Pure 02 (Viking House, 71 Princess Rd., Urmston, Manchester, England, M41 5ST, U.K.; phone +44 161 747 2617, www.healthoxygen.com). They deliver the oxygen unit to a designated address in London, where it is in place when I arrive. (Paul Stoops at Pure 02 has been most helpful.) I pay in advance by way of MasterCard or Visa.

In addition, while I am sure the oxygen provider in London would also have portable units available for rental, I take my own, though I have to be sure to take the correct adapters/converters for UK use.

I carry my portable oxygen unit with me wherever I go, including to restaurants, plays, etc., though I have not yet traveled with it by car in Europe.

I need only a pulse supply, except at night while I’m sleeping. Those who need a continuous supply of oxygen may have other concerns. Again, check with your doctor long before making travel plans. 

I’ve been in the travel business for over 35 years and am currently only semiretired, so when the need came along that I would require supplemental oxygen, it seemed rather daunting at first.

Now I realize that most of the traveling I might do will still be possible. I haven’t experienced cruising or rail travel yet, but I’m sure that portable oxygen could be arranged for those trips too.

My advice is to not stop but to make your plans in advance and keep traveling!

If anyone has questions, send me an email at elangs@comcast.net.

EMILY LANGSTON

Atlanta, GA