Flying with a Lung Condition

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Flying with a lung condition

Read our guide for those travelling on a plane with a lung condition. This guide is complete with FAQ’s, tips to prepare before a flight and prevent problems when flying with a lung condition.

What is a lung condition?

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A lung condition is any problem in the lungs that prevents the lungs from working properly. It could be a blockage in the airways or inflammation of lung tissues and blood vessels, all of which affect the way you breathe.

The most common types of lung conditions are asthma, COPD, lung cancer, lung infections, pneumonia, bronchitis and pulmonary edema. Be sure to continue reading this page if you, or anyone you know, has any form of lung condition.

2020 Update

Flying during the coronavirus outbreak

If you or a loved one has a lung condition you may have concerns about flying. Please visit our 2020 COVID-19 outbreak advice page for more information. If you've already made a booking and need to contact us, please use our contact form.

How to prepare when flying with a lung condition

If you think you are safe to fly, and your doctor has confirmed you can fly, you can then follow these simple guidelines to help you prepare for your flight and get you ready for a smooth and trouble-free journey.

Inform your airline

It is recommended that you consult the airline you’re travelling with in order to leave plenty of time before your trip. If you use an electric wheelchair or mobility scooter, you can inform them that you will require “special assistance”. The airline will be able to organise this assistance, such as a wheelchair and a staff member to help you. If you require wheelchair assistance, you can find out more about how to organise that here.

If you use a portable oxygen concentrator (POC), you need to speak to your airline regarding their policy in carrying one on board and also you can ask if they provide in-flight oxygen, which you will often have to pay for. If you’re unsure whether an airline allows oxygen onboard, click here for a list of examples, or contact Alternative Airlines and we can provide you with all the information you need before you book your flight.

Check your insurance

It is advised that you check your current level of medical insurance in regards to your health. If you aren't fully covered, you should then look to upgrade in order to cover yourself in any event.

Bring enough medication and a fully charged POC with you

Remember to take with you plenty of medication as prescribed and a fully charged POC to last you through your journey. Remember to always pack your medication in your hand luggage so that they are easily available for inspection by the airport security officers. Airlines recommend taking extra batteries for your POC in case your flight is delayed and you have access to oxygen.

Flying with a lung condition

What happens when flying with a lung condition?

The air pressure within the cabin of an airplane is not the same as the air pressure on earth, meaning that when you fly, oxygen will not enter your body as easily as it would normally. You may feel more breathless and your chest may feel a little tight, especially on long-haul flights. However, very few people experience problems when travelling with the correct medical advice and precautions.

Is it safe to fly with a lung condition?

A lung condition doesn’t necessarily prevent you from flying. Please note that you should always speak to your doctor before booking and travelling. Most people with a lung condition, even if they use oxygen, can travel on planes.

Can I fly with an oxygen tank?

This depends on the airline you’re flying with. However, most airlines only accept a portable oxygen concentrator, just remember to charge those batteries before your flight. You should inform your doctor before you fly and the airline you’re flying with in regards to their policy on this.

Please inform Alternative Airlines that you intend to carry oxygen on your flight as soon as possible before your day of departure. You should report that you intend to use your own Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) during the flight and clearly specify the manufacturer and model.

Do I need a medical certificate?

If you need additional oxygen on board the plane, some airlines may ask you to show them a medical certificate at the airport. These certificates show that you are healthy enough to fly. You can obtain a medical form either from your airline or from your medical practice which needs to be completed by you and your doctor. You must carry your concentrator with you and show it to the airline employees as required.

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