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Taking Your Own Air, Up In the Air

Considerations for people living with pulmonary hypertension and other chronic diseases

Silver Spring, Md. (Dec. 14, 2010) — This holiday season, nearly 50 million people will take to the air. Some will have to bring their own portable air in order to make it safely to their destination. The Pulmonary Hypertension Association, the national center for advocacy, education and events related to pulmonary hypertension (PH), offers travel tips for people relying on portable oxygen - including those living with PH.

PH is caused by high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs that can lead to heart failure. It is often misdiagnosed as asthma, congestive heart disease, or chronic bronchitis. Air travel can result in a decreased blood oxygen level, a special concern for PH patients.

Here are tips for anyone who needs supplemental oxygen when traveling by air:

  1. Check with your airline before you take off.
    Contact your airline to verify that they allow portable oxygen concentrators and plan accordingly.

  2. Get written permission from your doctor.
    When traveling with oxygen you will need written permission from your doctor describing the specific medical requirements of PH.

  3. Be prepared for delays.
    Traveling, especially during the holiday season, can be a waiting game. Make sure you have sufficient battery power to cover check-in, extra security clearances and scans, flight time and possible delays.

  4. Use an alternative to liquid oxygen and know the costs.
    Liquid oxygen is easily combustible and is not permitted on airplanes. In addition to allowing properly prepared oxygen concentrators, some airlines provide oxygen as compressed gas for a charge. The fee can vary, but can often be in the hundreds of dollars. Airlines charge in various ways, including a flat fee, number of oxygen bottles used and total airtime.

  5. Verify with your insurance company what they will cover.
    Make sure you verify what your insurance company will pay so you don’t run into unexpected costs during your trip. Many private insurers do not cover supplemental oxygen costs for air travel. Medicare does not cover the cost either.

  6. Plan for your layover.
    Some airlines that provide supplemental oxygen in-flight do not provide the same service during layovers. People are responsible to arrange for their own oxygen during time on the ground. Check ahead so you know what to expect. 


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About The Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA)

Headquartered in Silver Spring, Md., PHA is the country’s leading organization connecting pulmonary hypertension patients, families, and medical professionals. Its mission is to find ways to prevent and cure pulmonary hypertension and provide hope for the community through support, education, advocacy and awareness. PHA provides free access to information on its Web site about pulmonary hypertension and facilitates over 200 support groups around the nation, helping many of the estimated 30,000 diagnosed patients in the U.S. To learn more, visit:


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The information provided on the PHA website is provided for general information only. It is not intended as legal, medical or other professional advice, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultations with qualified professionals who are familiar with your individual needs. PHA does not endorse or recommend any commercial products or services.

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The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) awarded PHA the Abbey S. Meyers Leadership Award in 2012 for outstanding service to PHA members in advocacy, education and other key areas.