moderate copd ok to fly ?

Hi everyone i have moderate copd and dont seem to get to breathles at the moment and I will be going to tenerife mid january for some winter sun has been feeling ok just a bit worried about being on a plane for 4 hours, went to benordom first week in november and was ok on the plane but that was only a 2 hour flight

I feel ok in my self has i like to think i know my own body but If i did get breathles do planes carry oxegen ?.

I think i will just put my ear plugs in and try not to think about it when up there but i also think that will be my last one on a plane for 4 hours and just stick to a 2 hour flight in the future

29 Replies

Hi music, i am at stage IV COPD Emphysema my FEV1 is 20%. My wife and I went to the UK this year which is about a 14 + hour flight. I requested oxygen at 2 lpm to be on standby but I did not have to use it. You have to get letter from Dr. I carry an oxymeter with me all the time. On the flight my sats went into the upper 80's when i had to go to the bathroom but once i got sat down i was back up to the low 90's. The best way is to seek advice from your Dr. I would still advise you to take an oxymeter with you for your own info and peace of mind. Cheers Dave from the LoS. P.S. all aircraft carry oxygen for emergencies.

A couple of years ago I was in your position and went to see my doctor.

He checked my blood/oxygen levels (92%) and said I was ok for short flights (eg.Europe).

Without his ok I would not have been covered by insurance.

Please see your doctor and if yiu go make sure you have plenty of inhalers and other medicines.

With the inhalers, be careful to declare them all at customs! You have to show them all, just in case yo'd want to blow the plane with them! I don't know the instructions on how to blow up a plane with inhalers. though!

Hi...if your copd is quite well controlled then you should be fine, and the Tenerife air will do you the world of good. For your peace of mind, Planes do have oxygen on board. Enjoy your holiday

Most airlines, and insurance companies, insist that you have a 'fit to fly' certificate from your doctor, it is something to do with the pressure which reduces your sats by about 4%. The oxygen that airlines carry is for emergencies only. Hope you have a good time.

My own experience has been very similar requesting "fit to fly" notifying the insurance company of my conditions, packing extra medication in case of emergency we dont travel on a whim with last minute bargains now.

hi about flights carrying oxygen they do but you have to pay for it now there is only two flights world wide where you get it free and they are qutar and emmirites but you could go ask your doctor to arrange a flight test which will tell them if you need oygen hope this helps

Unless its changed, Virgin do it for free. I had it from them to fly to USA in 2010.

I get mine free (pre-booked) from Thomson.

Ooh! didn't know about that possibility :)

I got free oxygen when flying with Thomas Cook. It was only to be used if required and I had a covering letter from my Dr to state so. I used it about one hour each way on the flight when my SATS dropped into the 70's.

I am always apprehensive when flying but I find taking a book that i am really enjoying helps, the time passes much quicker and reading relaxes me.

Hi, I have COPD Bronchiecstasis. I had a flight assessment and was told I could only fly for 2 hours which is mainland Europe. I have never ever been prescribed oxygen so I wouldn't want to 'disobey' the recommendation.

I had a friend who hadn't had a flight assessment (she had really bad asthma) and flew to U.S.A. and was really ill so I don't think it is worth the risk. Good luck, and enjoy your holiday.

I fly to Malaga Spain quite often and I am breathless with every movement I make. I do take and are permitted to take with Easy Jet at least, 2 small cylinders as hand luggage and a certificate from the Doctor which must say My patient is fit to fly but must carry Oxygen for medical reasons. Also you need to pre arrange oxygen supply in destination. I HAVE THE DETAILS FOR THAT IF YOU WISH TO KNOW. I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GET TO THE DOCCUMENTS TODAY THOUGH. HOPE THIS HELPS.

does it cost £38 a day i enquired for spain its a lot of expense on top of the holiday cost ?

hi i am going to Tenerife in January and suffer from fibrosis so my oxy levels are usually about 85% to 90% and last time January 2012 did not have any problems on the 4 hour flight,i believe you can hire extra oxy from the carrier,good luck have a lovely holiday in the sunshine christie

HI, I fly to Spain quite regularly, have copd, but not severe. I have inhalers and carry one in my bag on plane. I always tell the cabin staff how I feel, so they are aware. Im sure you will be fine. 4 hours is not too long. Try to stay as relaxed as possible, as we all know getting stressed starts off the breathlessness and feeling poorly. I wish you all the best, speak to your doctor before you go.

Ihave mild to moderate COPD I flew to New York in November and was fine on the flight but a few days after i got back i felt unwell with my breathing for a few days

Hi, again, Incidentally the air out in Spain (and Tenerife, obviously), is wonderful. I always feel so much healthier when I am there.

ha,a couple of years ago I told a GP I was so fed upand what could I do to make myself better & she said "move to Spain"!

Have a wonderful holiday, you may find it so beneficial you won't want to come back! :)

Greetings, Music

You really need to get a "fitness to fly" test done at your local hospital. They will tell you if you need in-flight oxygen and if so, at what rate per minute. A number of companies provide oxygen free of charge (Virgin and Air-Transat being two on long haul flights); others do charge. Insurance is more problematic, unfortunately.

Enjoy your holiday!



I have moderate copd and will be flying to L.A in march. Your gp should know if you are well enough or need oxygen on the flight. Travel insurance can be a problem, i've ended up getting mine from tesco, they cover you under normal travel insurance if you are on 2 medications, more than that and you either have to pay extra or use a different company.

All airlines carry emergency oxygen on board whether they are short or long haul. So relax and enjoy your flight..

thanks for all your replies, great help

Hi Music. We flew to Rome in may 2013. Since then we have been back to the Consultant and he has said he would not advise my Husband to fly anymore. His oxygen levels can drop to about 79 after he has walked anywhere without his oxygen on. If I were you I would ask your Consultant if it is advisable for you to fly now. I would think he may say yes in your case. What the Consultant said to us is that the airlines compromise their oxygen and the pilot wouldn't be amused if he had to return mid flight. So to be safe I would ask. X

Just returned from Australia had fitness to fly test and it was suggested that I have intermittant oxygen (2L) on flight supplied free by Virgin, did not need it. Remember to walk round cabin from time to time on long trips to avoid DVT. Just prior to this trip I flew to Geneva from London- didnt request oxygen and was just fine. I am at Stage lV emphysema. Always take out medical insurance for your condition as precautionary.

dont worry u will b fine i need 2ltrs oxygen on flight i went on 19hrs notice so had not time to organize anything to lanzarote just relax have the air con on your face take some deep breathes and enjoy

I did long haul Western Australia to Manchester, had a fit to fly test and was passed and I have severe COPD, have a lovely holiday xx

Speak to your GP or consultant about your fitness to fly. I flew to New York and didn't need a test, my consultant said that as my SATS at rest were =95% I was ok to go. I did panic before the flight but was actually fine and quite relaxed in the end. Dont' rely on a planes emergency oxygen, this is for emergencies only and if you aren't fit to fly it may cause problems with your return tickets and insurance etc and if you actually become ill on the plane then there are other issues to face. Not trying to scare you but as you are concerned speak to your GP - if only to put your own mind at rest. Marie

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