Ask the Captain: Can I fly with medical oxygen? Do airlines provide it or do I bring my own?

I often fly to Wales to visit family. Recently, I received news that oxygen is going to be a permanent travel partner for me. I’m sure oxygen tanks are NOT permitted on aircraft, for very good reasons. Is there any way I can still visit my relatives? Does the airplanes have their own oxygen supply that passengers with breathing problems are allowed to use?

– Ralph, Colon, Michigan

The days of airlines selling you oxygen cylinders are largely over. Now passengers bring their own, FAA-approved portable oxygen concentrators, devices which pull air from the cabin and purify it rather than delivering oxygen from a tank, which may need to be changed out on a longer flight. We took a look at the therapeutic oxygen policies for the three major U.S. airlines:

American Airlines: American has a list of preapproved POCs it allows on board. (These devices pull air from the room rather than a canister.) Prior to boarding, you’ll need to check in with a gate agent, who will explain when you can and can’t use it in flight as well as check to make sure you know how to operate it and have an adequate battery supply. (You’ll need to have enough to power your device for 150% of the flight and connection time.)

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