Advice re flying with oxygen - The Roy Castle Lu...

The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation

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Advice re flying with oxygen



I'm writing on behalf of my dad, who has just been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and very poor prognosis. He would really like to fly for a couple of days somewhere that is very special to him before his condition worsens, and/or he tries palliative chemotherapy. He is currently using oxygen 8 hours per day and all night and has a portable machine. We've read online that some airlines will provide oxygen for flying, and he could take his machine with him to use while he is away.

Does anyone have any experiences flying with oxygen and could give some advice on this, or which airlines might be helpful?

Thanks for any help

7 Replies

Hi digimum,

I am very sorry to hear of your dad's prognosis.Having lung cancer does not necessarily stop people from flying tho there are a few extra things to think about before travelling.

Planes fly at over 30,000ft and the pressure inside the cabin is lower than at ground level.This causes the oxygen levels in peoples blood to drop.If you don't get enough oxygen into your blood ,you may feel unwell.This condition is called hypoxaemia and symptoms include headaches and feeling sick.

It is important to ask your dad's GP or lung cancer consultant well in advance of the trip to find out if your dad will need extra oxygen on the plane.Each airline has it's own policy on providing people with additional oxygen facilities so check with them before you fly.There may be an additional charge for the service ,it the airline provides it. The air travel section of the European Lung Foundation's website( )lists the oxygen policies for passengers for dozens of airlines.

Sometimes a flight has a code and flight number from one airline but is operated by another.This is known as "code sharing".If this is the case for your dad's flights,check with each airline involved to make sure you know which policy applies and what it says.

Some people with cancer,including people with lung cancer,have a higher risk of blood clots or DTV(deep venous thrombosis),so consider the length of the flight.You should discuss this with your dad's GP or Consultant before he travels and find out if he may be at risk and what can be done about it.Options may include him doing some exercises in his seat,using compression stockings,drinking plenty of water and his GP may suggest taking blood thinning medication such as Warfarin and Aspirin.

I do hope that your dad gets his wish to have a short break and all the team at Roy Castle Helpline send our best wishes.

Thank you very much for your advice, which is encouraging.

We don't want him to delay starting chemo in order to make this trip - do you think it is also something he could potentially do during chemo treatment? maybe in the third week of his first cycle of gemcarbo? or would that be too risky because of the possibility that he will feel too ill from the side effects?

Thanks for your advice

RoyCastleHelplineAdministrator in reply to digimum

Hi digimum,

The best advice I can give is to speak to either the Consultant or the lung cancer nurse specialist who will advise you.I suggest you try the nurse specialist in the first instance as it might be easier to speak to her.If she is not available leave a message on the ansaphone and leave a number where you can be contacted.

Kind regards,

The Roy Castle Helpline team

Thank you

Hello there, so sorry to hear about your dad.

My mum is on oxygen 24/7 but still visits me once or twice per year. She flies with Ryanair and they are very helpful.

You will need a couple of forms and make sure you book on the phone as you need to supply details about the equipment he wants to use on board. Also they will ask you for a "fit to fly " form which needs to be filled in by his doctor close to the travel date.

Hope that helps and all the best !


digimum in reply to Rickirose

Thank you very much Ricki. I'm hoping that he will feel confident enough to try this, great to hear that others are doing this too, that might give him more confidence.

Rickirose in reply to digimum

Yes I am sure it does and you hang in there as I have a feeling you are a great and lovely daughter!

Kindest regards


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