Oxygen — Don’t Leave Home Without It

As I was watching my Facebook feed this morning, a post by one of my travel writer friends caught my eye. Apparently her flight was being diverted for a medical emergency. She made a series of posts about what was happening and then took a video of a woman being helped off the airplane. She was hooked up to emergency oxygen, and although the sounds was fuzzy there was some discussion as to if she normally uses therapeutic oxygen.

And of course that led to a discussion about why in the world anyone would travel without their oxygen? Although I don’t condone it, I certainly know it happens, as I get a lot of comments from readers. And it happens because airline supplied oxygen is expensive.

Some people just don’t understand that they can’t bring their own oxygen aboard. They book their ticket and then they ask questions. And many are horrified to discover that the airlines charge $75-$150 per leg for airline supplied oxygen. A leg is defined as one take off and one landing, so that can add up quickly if you have a few connections. So what do they do? Well they decide to go without. The reasoning is, it’s only a few hours, so how bad can it be?

Well, in a pressurized cabin at 35,000 feet, it can be real bad. And it can result in an emergency landing.

To add insult to injury airlines aren’t required to provide therapeutic oxygen, and many don’t. At the top of list in that category is Southwest, one of the largest budget carriers in the country. And again, people book their airline tickets before they ask those ever-so-important oxygen questions.

Granted you can take approved oxygen concentrators aboard airlines these days, but you also have to do the paperwork and go through the right channels to do this. It’s not like you just show up at the airport with your oxygen concentrator. Furthermore, not everybody can use an oxygen concentrator.

Of course, people who travel often understand all of this, and they are experts at advance preparation. It’s the first-timers who can get into trouble.

So plan ahead if you use therapeutic oxygen. After all, you don’t want to become Facebook fodder, or just another airline statistic. And if you know someone who is new to therapeutic oxygen, please share this post with them, so they will be better prepared for their first trip.