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POC (Portable Oxygen Concentrator)
the new way to get O2 in the air.
 
Airlines no longer supply liquid oxygen tanks on flights. Passengers are being told to make their own arrangements for an approved POC when traveling.

 

  If youre used to calling an airline and arranging for liquid oxygen tanks to be waiting at your seat, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. Airlines are changing their policies on providing oxygen. 
 
The bad news is that this eliminates the convenience of having the oxygen waiting for you on the flight, and you have to transport a portable unit onto and off of the plane. The good news is that youre no longer restricted to travel with a particular airline just because it supplies oxygen. Many models are now approved by the government and nearly all airlines are required to allow these units on board, so you can now choose whichever flight schedule and airline you want to use.
 

With this new freedom, consumers have the responsibility to learn about selecting the right model and making arrangements to rent and transport POCs.
 

  Background: The government recently approved several new POC models for use on commercial flights. With more models permitted, most, if not all, airlines abandoned their practice of forcing passengers to use airline-supplied oxygen. The POC advocates argued that patients who already have POCs were being forced to rent the airlines oxygen instead of using their own. Also, the advocates argued that liquid oxygen posed a security/safety threat to air travel. As a result, airlines are no longer providing this service, shifting the burden of arranging for oxygen to the consumer. (Note: some airlines will connect you with their preferred vendor for POC rental.)
 
With this new freedom, consumers have the responsibility to learn about selecting the right model and making arrangements to rent and transport POCs. POCs come in several different varieties. The most important factors to consider when arranging for a POC are ease of portability and mode of operation.
 

Most POC models are noisy, but some are quieter than others. Since airplanes are generally very noisy environments, this does not really make a difference in flight.
 

  POC Units: All POCs are battery operated, and some can be plugged into electrical outlets to simultaneously run the unit and charge the battery. All come with a built-in or detachable cart. Some are smaller and lighter, but offer fewer features. With spare batteries, a portable unit can run for many hours without requiring an electrical outlet, but watch out: batteries can be heavy, making travel more difficult.
 
There are two basic modes of operation for a POC: continuous and pulse. Continuous operation outputs a steady flow of oxygen, whereas pulse operation relies on the patients breathing to trigger a burst of oxygen. Some doctors recommend continuous operation for their patients who are prone to shallow breathing. Shallow breathing does not effectively trigger the pulse operation. Check with your doctor to see if you need a model that provides continuous operation. Battery life is much longer in pulse mode.
 
Most POC models are noisy, but some are quieter than others. Since airplanes are generally very noisy environments, this does not really make a difference in flight. But if youre going to use a POC for more than just airplane travel, noise can be a factor.
 
One of the most highly regarded models is the SeQual Eclipse. It provides both continuous and pulse operation, runs about 2-3 hours in continuous mode on a single battery (depending on flow rate) and even longer in pulse mode. Its heavier and bulkier than some competing models, but its durable and full featured. It can be used with its own cart, or it can be detached, so, for example, you can put it on top of your wheeled luggage. Inogen One is a lighter, smaller POC, but it is a pulse-only model.
 
Popular POC Units:
 


SeQual Eclipse
 
 
Inogen One
  Payment: Insurance plans will pay for, or even provide, a POC rental if you have DME (durable medical equipment) coverage. (Note: Keep in mind that youre now obtaining equipment rather than purchasing a service. Youre responsible for the care and condition of the unit.) Even if you don't have DME coverage, many insurance policies will fully or partially cover the cost of oxygen rental for travel. Check with your insurance provider for the details of your plan.
 
If you dont have DME coverage, youll have to find a vendor who will rent the unit to you. Some vendors will rent to anyone (with a doctors note), but some vendors will only rent to patients who are already using oxygen at home. Some airlines have a preferred vendor and will connect you with that vendor if you are flying on one of their flights. Check with your airline before traveling. The airline will require documentation from your doctor (specifying medical necessity, quantity of oxygen and flow rate) and may require documentation from your POC vendor.
 
The Dysautonomia Foundation is investigating the purchase of one or two POC units to lend to FD patients. Check with us a month before your travel dates to see if we can provide a unit for you.
 
POC rental vendors* include:
Oxytravel / LifeGas www.lifegas.com
Oxygen To Go http://oxygentogo.com/
RXstat http://www.rxstat.net/index.html
 
*The Dysautonomia Foundation
does not endorse, recommend
or evaluate the quality of service
ffrom any of these vendors.
 
The following POCs have been approved for
in-flight use by the FAA:
(1) AirSep Lifestyle;
(2) AirSep FreeStyle;
(3) Inogen One;
(4) SeQual Eclipse;
(5) Respironics EverGo;
(6) Delphi Medical Systems RS00400;
(7) Invacare Corporations XPO2.
See 70 Fed. Reg. 40156 (July 12, 2005);
71 Fed. Reg. 53954 (Sept. 12, 2006); and
74 Fed. Reg. 2351 (Jan. 15, 2009)
     
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