A portable oxygen concentrator on a Hawaiian Airlines plane

Traveling by plane with portable oxygen concentrators? What you need to know about flying with Hawaiian Airlines.

While the United States Air Carrier Access Act including Hawaiian Airlines requires them to accommodate passengers with disabilities, there are no regulations requiring airlines to provide medical oxygen during flights. Liquid oxygen is considered a hazardous material and many airlines do not allow passengers to carry it on an airplane. Some airlines provide supplemental medical oxygen, but most do not, and the few that typically charge a fee for oxygen service.

Hawaiian Airlines allows passengers to bring their own portable oxygen concentrators on board aircraft, as explained in the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR 11, 14 CFR 121, 14 CFR 125, 14 CFR 135, 14 CFR 1 and 14 CFR 382). These documents explain POC requirements and detail what the US Company can and cannot require from passengers who require supplemental medical oxygen during their flights.

If you are traveling abroad, you may need to comply with regulations in various countries. Contact your airline as soon as you book your ticket to make sure you understand all of the procedures.

Approved portable oxygen concentrators

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has revised its approval process for the portable oxygen concentrator. Instead of requiring POC manufacturers to obtain FAA approval for every model of portable oxygen concentrator, the FAA now requires manufacturers to label new models of POCs that meet FAA requirements. The label shall include the following statement in red text: “The manufacturer of this portable oxygen concentrator has determined that this device meets all applicable FAA requirements for the transport and use of the portable oxygen concentrator at board the plane.”

Airline personnel can look up this tag to determine whether or not the POC can be used on the aircraft.

If your POC is older and does not have a tag, it can still be used if the model is FAA approved. Hawaiian Airlines can use the list published in Federal Special Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 106 to determine whether or not the POC can be used during a flight. These POC models do not need an FAA mark of conformity.

According to its website, the FAA has approved the following portable oxygen concentrators for in-flight use in accordance with SFAR 106:

  • AirSep tuning
  • AirSep FreeStyle
  • AirSep FreeStyle 5
  • AirSep LifeStyle
  • Delphi RS-00400
  • DeVilbiss Healthcare iGo
  • Inogen One
  • Inogen One G2
  • Inogen One G3
  • Inova Labs LifeChoice
  • Inova Labs LifeChoice Activox
  • International Biophysics LifeChoice
  • Invacare Solo2
  • Invacare XPO2
  • Oxlife Independence Oxygen Concentrator
  • Oxus RS-00400
  • Precision Medical EasyPulse
  • Respironics EverGo
  • Respironics SimplyGo
  • Eclipse SeQual
  • SeQual eQuinox Oxygen System (Model 4000)
  • SeQual Oxywell Oxygen System (Model 4000)
  • SEQual SAROS
  • VBox Trooper Oxygen Concentrator

Take your portable oxygen concentrator on board

When traveling with a POC, be aware that the FAA and the airline may have different requirements. While FAA regulations don’t require you to notify your airline of your POC in advance, almost all airlines require that you notify them at least 48 hours before your flight. Some airlines, like Hawaiian Airlines, also require you to check-in your flight at least an hour before take-off.

This service must be booked only by phone at 1.8003.675.320. It is not possible to book it by form.

Check if you are using a codeshare flight, which is “an agreement between partner airlines to share the same flight”, as you will need to know the procedures both for your ticket carrier and for the airline that actually operates your flight.

The FAA no longer requires passengers traveling with a POC to obtain a doctor’s statement, but some airlines still require you to provide one, while others require you to demonstrate before boarding that you can meet the requirements alarms from your POC.

If necessary, the doctor’s statement should include the following information:

– A statement about your ability to see, hear and respond to the warning signs on your POC, which are typically flashing lights and audible alarms. You must be able to understand warning alarms and respond to them without assistance.

– A description of your oxygen needs. Do you need medical oxygen during the entire flight or only under certain conditions?

– A statement that describes the maximum oxygen flow you need while the aircraft is in flight.

Passengers using POCs cannot sit in the exit rows, nor can their POCs block another passenger’s access to seats or aisles on the aircraft.

Some airlines are more specific, like Southwest, and require POC users to sit in a window seat.

Powering your portable oxygen concentrator

Airlines are not required to allow you to plug your POC into the aircraft’s electrical system. You will need to bring enough batteries to power your POC for your entire flight, including gate time, taxi time, takeoff, airtime, and landing. Almost all US airlines require that you bring enough batteries to power your POC for 150% of “flight time,” which includes every minute spent on the plane, plus an allowance for doorways and other delays. Others require that you have enough batteries to power your POC during flight time plus three hours.

Additional batteries should be carefully packed in your hand baggage. You will not be able to carry your batteries with you if they are not properly packaged. You must make sure that the terminals, or electrical contacts, of the batteries are glued or otherwise protected so that they do not come into contact with other items in your bag. If your batteries have recessed terminals, you do not need to register them.

Your POC and additional batteries are considered medical devices. Although they will need to be reviewed by TSA staff, they will not be charged against your cabin allowance.

Rental of portable oxygen concentrators

Several companies lease portable oxygen concentrators approved by the FAA. If your POC is not on the FAA approved list and does not have an FAA compliance label, you can take it with you for use at your destination and rent a POC to use during the flight.

As soon as you book your flight, let your airline know that you intend to take a POC with you and make sure you understand how long before your flight your doctor needs to write the required statement. Some airlines have particularly restrictive rules, so ask a representative to walk you through the entire process.

Include details such as whether the doctor’s note needs to be written on letterhead and if there is an airline specific form, also confirm the duration of your flight with the airline and be aware of possible delays, especially in winter and during peak times on voyage.

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