Travelling with oxygen

Find out how to plan ahead if you’re travelling with oxygen.

Using oxygen in the UK

You can arrange oxygen for travel within the UK through your oxygen provider. You will need to give them your holiday details, including the dates and where you will stay. Give them as much notice as you can.

Check with your hotel or accommodation provider about taking and storing oxygen equipment.

Make sure you know how to travel safely with your oxygen. Your respiratory team and oxygen provider will be able to advise you if you’re unsure.

Using oxygen abroad

If you need oxygen abroad, you’ll need to make arrangements before you travel. In most cases UK companies do not allow their equipment to be taken outside the UK, but they can usually advise you on arranging oxygen abroad. You’ll have to pay for the oxygen supply.

The European Lung Foundation has a list of oxygen providers in European countries.

Travelling with oxygen

If you’re travelling by ferry or train with oxygen, make sure you contact the company operating the service in advance to see what help they can offer. This may vary between different providers.

Using oxygen while flying

If you plan to fly, you may need a fitness-to-fly test to confirm if you need in-flight oxygen.

You may not normally need oxygen but may need it while flying, because there is less oxygen in the air at high altitudes. We have more information about what the fitness-to-fly test involves. Talk to your GP about whether you will need a test.

Airlines have their own rules about using oxygen in-flight. Some airlines may only allow you to bring a portable oxygen concentrator, which you may need to hire or buy. Some airlines supply oxygen for a fee, but the cost can vary widely. Make sure you check with the airline before booking. You can also speak to your oxygen supplier for more information.

The European Lung Foundation has a list of airline oxygen policies. Make sure you look on the airline’s website or contact them, so you have the most up-to-date information.

Medical clearance to fly 

If you’re using oxygen on the plane, the airline will ask for a medical certificate to show you’re healthy enough to fly. This is called a Fit to Fly Certificate or Medical Information Form (MEDIF). You’ll need to ask your doctor to sign this form.

Each airline has its own form, which you can find on their website. The European Lung Foundation’s list of airline oxygen policies includes links to forms.

The form will ask for information about:

  • your route, flight date and booking reference
  • who you’re travelling with 
  • your oxygen needs, including rates in litres per minute and flow type (continuous or pulse)
  • what medical equipment you’re taking, such as a portable oxygen container, CPAP machine or mobility equipment
  • batteries your equipment uses.

Advice for travelling with oxygen 

Start planning well in advance of your trip.

  • Check the validity of your fitness to fly test. Some airlines are specific about the time between the test and travel. 
  • Check the insurance arrangements for your oxygen equipment.
  • Check ahead with your airline for any flight delays or cancellations. If you use oxygen, you may need to bring more or make sure you have enough battery to cover any delays.
  • Check whether your flight is code-sharing. This is when a flight has one airline’s code and flight number but is operated by another one. You will need to check with each airline about their own oxygen policy.
  • Make sure you know how many batteries you’ll need for your flight.
  • Think ahead – plug in and charge your portable concentrator whenever you can.
  • Remember to take international plug adapters that will work at your destination.
  • Keep helpline numbers for your oxygen equipment with you at all times.
  • Take a copy of your oxygen prescription or doctor’s letter in case you need to reorder supplies.

You can read more about oxygen therapy on our website. Our web community is also a good place to ask about other people’s experiences of travelling with oxygen.

Use our helpful checklist to make sure you’re prepared for your trip 

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