British Lung Foundation
34,260 members41,657 posts

Long Haul flight with stage one COPD

Hi all,

I was diagnosed last year with stage one COPD and was given Spiriva 18 microgram in an inhaler to take once a day. when I was diagnosed I asked if I was ok to fly and was told yes and I went to Lanzarote and felt a little ill on the flight but put that down to other things going on (menopause), I was ok coming home. I am now due to fly Saturday to Barbados and have been reading various websites as wondered if I would be ok. Most of the sites I have read have talked about needing oxygen but none state what stage and so I am now a little worried about flying. has anyone else been on a long haul flight and how was it, should I go and see my doctor before?

17 Replies
oldestnewest

Hi

They would be no harm in seeing your GP, just to put your mind at rest.

If you not using oxygen at the moment there's no reason to need in flight.

The only issue is high altitude oxygen levels can drop to 18% as opposed to sea level 21%.

As you have already been flying there should be no problem, but a chat to your GP who's more aware of your medical history will throw up any issues.

6 likes
Reply

I wouldn't always agree with not needing oxygen to fly if you don't need it normally Stone. Ive needed it for flying since I was mid stage 2 (moderate) although i never needed it otherwise - my need or it showed up clearly on the fit to fly test. When I was actually in flight, i tried leaving the oxygen off and my sats went down to 79%.

BUT, just listening to what others say, probably you wouldn't need it Tracy, being stage 1. But like Stone says, no harm in checking with your doctor.

8 likes
Reply

don't think it's a matter of stages,just how the altitude change effects you

2 likes
Reply

So it would seem.

1 like
Reply

It would depend more on your oxygen levels than your stage, as these can vary so much. I would check with whoever prescribes your oxygen so they can assess whether you may need it in flight.

5 likes
Reply

Toci, I don't have oxygen and have never been prescribed it, I just have one inhaler 😀

3 likes
Reply

I understand that but oxygen levels drop in flight and some are affected by this more than others. I have only 1 inhaler and don't need to use it a lot of the time but have needed oxygen on flights for years. I would recommend you have the levels checked to be on the safe side. :)

5 likes
Reply

Agreed

2 likes
Reply

Hi. I'm stage 3 but not on oxygen and my sats are fine when I fly. Everyone is different, so I would do as advised and have a word with your doctor....just to be on the safe side. XXX

5 likes
Reply

Hi Tracy, a tip, if you find out you do need oxygen, BA supply 1 passenger per flight with free oxygen via a cannula plugged into the overhead oxygen- no, cylinders, no fuss. You have to provide a medical form signed by your GP (MEDif). All this info is on their site

britishairways.com/cms/glob...

britishairways.com/en-de/in...

3 likes
Reply

Thompsons exactly the same

2 likes
Reply

A great tip James

2 likes
Reply

hi you should have had a fit to fly test to clear up any worries. no time now though. hope you have a good time and safe journey

1 like
Reply

Hi Tracy I've just flown to new Orleans then on to Miami I m currently on seebri symbicort and ventalin I made sure I took my emergency syeriods and antibiotics ( which I needed) but I was fine ! You can ring your airline and let them know in advance but I'm sure your be fine xx

Reply

Definitely see Dr. You should be taking a portable oxygen concentrator with you. Try not move about cabin.

Reply

Hello Tracy02, I am in Vancouver just now and was in Brisbane October/November! Both flights from Heathrow, one 24 hour one 9 hour! I don't want to tempt fate but I am okay and was okay on both flights! Now keeping fingers crossed as have to get back in a week and a half! I suffer from COPD but get too scared to even ask what stage I am at. My meds seem to be what I need just now and I just concentrate on doing what I am supposed to do with them, try to eat properly and get a bit of exercise every day. If I think too much about what COPD could prevent me from doing then I wouldn't do anything and become very depressed. If I do want to know anything then I ask! Do go to Barbados and enjoy your holiday and try not to look at too much internet as it does make you think all sorts of things! It has never once been suggested to me that I should try oxygen on a long haul and I always do get checked out with my GP before I go on these ventures! I am sure you will be fine! Other people on here, of course, might have different experiences to mine, I can only say how I have found it. Best wishes.

2 likes
Reply

Hi all, had my sats done today and was told it was 98% and that my heart rate was fine. I was told that I will be ok to fly so that's a relief 😀

1 like
Reply

You may also like...