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Tips for passengers needing supplemental oxygen

While the FAA does not allow passengers to bring personal compressed oxygen tanks on commercial flights, there are options for flyers who need supplemental oxygen. Some carriers will provide passengers with compressed oxygen and most now permit portable oxygen concentrators, a device the FAA recently approved.

Most U.S. carriers will provide oxygen tanks on certain flights if you give them at least 48 hours notice and pay a fee of around $75 to $100. Generally you must provide a copy of a medical certificate that states your need for oxygen and your travel fitness, as well as a note from your doctor detailing the exact amount you require.

A few years ago, the FAA made a new rule allowing medically qualified passengers to bring portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) on flights. Unlike oxygen tanks, which contain highly explosive compressed oxygen gas, POCs filter oxygen out of the cabin air. Airlines are not obligated to allow POCs, but most do, as long as you follow the airline’s guidelines for use. Usually only certain brand-name POCs are permitted, and passengers with POCs must provide the airlines with advance notice and a doctor’s note.

The airlines’ rules for carrier-provided compressed oxygen tanks and POCs vary, so you’ll need to call or go to the website of the carrier you wish to fly to find out the exact regulations.

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