The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
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Blood/Oxygen levels to fly

Hi Everyone

I am able to FLY ? I have COPD and half a left lung removed.

I purchased a Blood/Oxygen Monitor, my blood/oxygen levels at sitting reads 92, my flight is around 1.5 hours , so a short flight, am i able to fly with these readings of 92, how far will my readings drop once in the air, any advice would be helpful. as at easter i need to go visit my family.


2 Replies

Hi Guy 59,

I have checked out some information for you. You may be asked to provide medical proof, often a doctor’s note indicating you are fit to fly.

A test has been developed using a formula using an algorithm based on a study of 100 COPD patients with moderate to severe COPD. While the results tend to over-estimate the number of patients requiring in-flight oxygen, they are considered a safe “estimate” as to who can safely fly. See below;

If it is felt that supplementary oxygen is required, it is important that the airline is notified well in advance with a MEDIF Form in order that this service can be provided. Some carriers do make a charge for this.

Planes fly at over 30,000ft and the pressure inside the cabin is lower than at ground level. This causes the oxygen levels in people’s 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 GP well in advance of the trip to find out if you will need extra oxygen on the plane. Each airline has its own policy on providing people with additional oxygen facilities so check with them before you fly. 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 flight check with the 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)as yours is a short flight this may be less of a problem. You should discuss this with your GP before you travel and find out if you may be at risk and what can be done about it. Options may include you doing some exercises in your seat, using compression stockings (only if advised) and drinking plenty of water.

Hope this helps.

Best wishes and enjoy your holiday ,

All the team at Roy Castle Helpline

1 like

Thank you very much for your information


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