Send to

Choose Destination
Respir Care. 2018 Mar;63(3):326-331. doi: 10.4187/respcare.05522. Epub 2018 Feb 6.

Air Travel for Subjects Receiving Long-Term Oxygen Therapy.

Author information

Respiratory Department, St Vincent's University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.
Respiratory Department, St Vincent's University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.



Ambulatory oxygen (O2) is the recommended treatment for hypoxemia at rest or induced by exercise. Commercial aircraft often fly at altitudes of 30,000 feet; their cabins are pressurized to altitudes of 6,000-8,000 feet, with an equivalent FIO2 of 0.15. O2 supplementation, for those receiving baseline ambulatory O2, is paramount.


We gathered information on subjects' experience traveling with supplementary oxygen and reasons individuals receiving O2 do not travel. Subjects were identified using a home oxygen database. Data were gathered by postal questionnaire. The objective of this study was to gather information relevant to subjects' experience organizing travel with supplementary oxygen and their experience of traveling itself.


Between 2013 and 2015, 512 patients were entered into the database: 277 were excluded (269 had died, 8 had incomplete records). We sent 235 questionnaires, and 50 responses were received (21% response rate). Of these, 11 (22%) were returned as the patient had died, 20 (40%) had not traveled by air, 11 (22%) had flown with O2, 4 (8%) no longer used O2, and 4 (8%) forms were incomplete. Of those who traveled with O2, 54% found it complicated to organize their trip, 72% found it complicated to access information, and 81% would fly again. Regarding those who had never flown with O2, 35% were unaware that O2 was available on commercial aircraft, 30% had no wish to travel, and 30% had worries regarding their health.


Air travel is challenging; however, those who did travel reported a mainly positive experience. Increasing available information on options for travel should help individuals.


COPD; air travel; oxygen


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center