Air Travel with Lung Cancer

If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer, you are still able to travel the airlines.

If you are NOT on oxygen, it is very simple. As we all know, the walk to your gate may be quite an adventure. Upon checking in with your airline, simply tell the Customer Service Representative that you need a wheelchair. Not only does this eliminate the long walk for you, it speeds up going through TSA. If you are in a wheelchair and accompanied by an airport employee, you will go straight to the front of the line and be processed immediately.

Just prior to boarding, please let the airline employee at your gate know that you will need a wheelchair upon arrival, and one will be waiting for you as you exit the plane and take you to baggage claim.

Flying while on oxygen

If you are ON OXYGEN, please be sure to check with your airline as per their restrictions. As an example, United Airlines has the most comprehensive information on what you need to do. Click here for their information. Below is a small snippet of what United requires. Remember, all airlines must follow FAA rules and regulations:

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"Customers wishing to use a POC (Portable Oxygen Concentrator) on board must satisfy the following requirements prior to boarding the aircraft:1

  • The customer must notify United that he or she is planning to use a POC on board the aircraft.
  • The customer must have a signed written Medical Certificate for POC Use. United suggests printing the Medical Certificate for POC Use available on this website.
  • The Medical Certificate for POC Use must:
    1. State whether or not oxygen use is medically necessary for all or a portion of the flight(s) listed on the customer's itinerary.
    2. Specify the maximum oxygen flow rate in liters per minute corresponding to the pressure in the cabin of the aircraft under normal operating conditions.
    3. State that the expected total operating time (duration) of the POC extends the entire length of the flight plus three hours.
    4. Be kept by the customer and provided upon request to United personnel at any time during travel.
  • The customer must ensure that he or she has ample batteries to power the POC for the duration of the flight, any ground connection time where the POC will be used, plus three additional hours to allow for unanticipated delays. United does not have electrical power available for customer use on all of its aircraft. In-seat electrical power is available on only a limited number of aircraft, and there is no guarantee that any available in-seat power will be operative. Flights operated by United Express do not have in-seat power.
  • The customer must ensure that all extra batteries are properly protected from short-circuiting by having recessed battery terminals or by packaging the batteries so they do not contact metal objects, including the terminals of other batteries."

Please remember each airline has their own rules, regulations and forms. This information can help you navigate with each individual airline.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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