Can I take my own oxygen tank on a plane?

In: Airline Travel on Portable Oxygen|Traveling with Oxygen

16 Apr 2010

Portable 02 on Plane
Have you ever wondered if you could bring your own portable oxygen on a plane with you while you travel?  Well, the answer is no,….and yes. Firstly, absolutely not if you are stuck using a liquid oxygen system.  Liquid oxygen is not allowed on planes, period. If for example, you wanted to bring your own portable compressed oxygen tank on a commercial airline flight, the answer would be no.  The commercial carrier would consider the vessel in which you are carrying your oxygen to be dangerous. Even though the commercial carrier may have similar oxygen cylinders on board for emergency services, or to supply a passenger with oxygen for the duration of the flight, the carrier’s liability for those tanks would be covered by the carrier.  Since oxygen is considered a hazardous material, they cannot take the chance with patient owned equipment.  There are some carriers who used to allow a passenger to provide their oxygen tank to the air carrier some predetermined time in advance, say 48 hours ahead of the flight,  to examine and test the oxygen equipment to assess its integrity.  In those cases the carrier would agree to perform tests the air carrier determines are required to  the oxygen equipment and by those tests evaluate if it is safe for use.  Subsequently the air carrier would return the device to the passenger for the flight.  As it stands now, no air carrier is willing to accept the safety and liability risks of permitting passengers to carry on and use their personal oxygen tanks during commercial flights without their approval.

Many folks who have traveled on airline oxygen in the past might just think the whole business is a revenue generator, like charging extra for carry on bags.  Except most people are not charged $150 per hour for their carry on bags, but in flight oxygen service has been know to exceed the cost of the ticket itself.  I guess a few people could argue that is another factor airlines weigh when determining whether or not to allow patients to bring their own oxygen tanks on board is the revenue they may lose.
Enter present day and new technology, and airlines are faced with a new dilemma.  What about POC’s (portable oxygen concentrators).  Many portable oxygen concentrator companies have spent large sums of money to demonstrate to the FAA their safe use onboard airlines as an alternative to compressed gas cylinders.  One by one, airlines began allowing the POC’s onboard, while other airlines seemed to drag their feet.  Perhaps the feet dragging was done as a result of the impending loss of revenue they expected if they allowed portable oxygen concentrators onboard.

Well, none of that matters now, as I’ll explain in a future post, changes in DOT / FAA / ADA Regulations in the 2009 Air Carrier Access Regulations, basically mandate that any portable oxygen concentrator approved by the FAA shall be allowed on all air carriers.  There are of course, some exceptions to the rules for certain international flights and private carriers.

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