For many oxygen users, their first interest in a portable oxygen concentrator arises when they wish to travel by airplane. Whether for a vacation abroad, or a trip across the country to see their newest grandchild, oxygen users are no longer bound at home but are free to travel the world. With manufacturers ensuring that their portable concentrators are approved by the FAA, air travel is now accessible for most oxygen users.
The FAA requires all airlines to allow the use of portable oxygen concentrators, but the airlines are not required to provide electricity to power your unit. Instead, they require that you have sufficient battery power for the flight. Thus, when traveling with a portable oxygen concentrator one of the most important considerations is the number of batteries you will need for your flight.
Most airlines require sufficient battery power to last 150% of the flight time. For example, if the flight time is four hours then you would need six hours of battery time (4 x 150% = 6).
Once you determine how much battery time your flight requires, then you can calculate the number of batteries you will need. Let’s look at a couple of examples.
Battery Example #1 – Inogen One G3
Flight time – 5 hours
Flow setting – Setting 2
First, let’s do the math for the flight: 5-hour flight x 150% = 7.5 hours of battery time required.
Now let’s look at our battery options: the Inogen One G3 offers an 8-cell battery that lasts 4 hours on setting 2, or a 16-cell battery that lasts 8 hours on setting 2. So for our flight, we would need either two 8-cell batteries or one 16-cell battery.
Battery Example #2 – SeQual Eclipse 5
Flight time – 4 hours
Flow setting – Setting 2 LPM (continuous flow)
Again, let’s do the math for the flight: 4-hour flight x 150% = 6 hours of battery time required.
Now let’s look at our battery: the Eclipse battery lasts 2.3 hours at 2 LPM continuous flow so we will need 3 batteries (2.3 x 3 = 6.9).
Note: If the flow setting is 2 pulse, then the battery lasts 4.4 hours and only 2 batteries would be needed (4.4 x 2 = 8.8).
Additional Points to Consider
- While you may need oxygen only for a short time during your flight, airlines hold to a worst case scenario and assume that you will need oxygen during the entire flight, and they will not allow you to fly without sufficient battery power.
- Short layovers between connecting flights will not allow enough time to recharge used batteries so you need to add this additional time into your calculations.
- Be sure to use your DC power supply while driving to the airport so you do not prematurely drain your batteries. Also, as soon as you get through security, use the electrical charging station at the gate (or a plug on a wall) to keep your battery charged while waiting to board the airplane.
- Battery duration times provided by the manufacturers assume a new battery. As your batteries wear down over time you may need an additional battery to have sufficient battery power for your flight.