Air travel and lung disease


Lung disease shouldn’t be a barrier to air travel. Regardless of whether you are going on vacation, on a business trip or visiting friends and family, you should make sure you are properly prepared for your trip.

This publication covers the key aspects to consider when planning a trip and gives you some tips on how to stay well when you are abroad.

Conversation with a healthcare professional
The first thing to do before planning your trip is to seek medical attention. It is best to do this as soon as possible, especially since you may need to do a few more tests to check that you are fit for a trip where you may need oxygen or extra medication.

Oxygen on board an airplane – why you may need it
The air in an airplane contains less oxygen than the air we breathe every day. This leads to a reduction in the oxygen level in the blood. If your lungs are healthy, the drop in oxygen is small enough that you won’t feel a difference.

However, if you have a lung disease, your body’s oxygen levels may already be low, or your lungs may not be able to work to keep your blood oxygen levels at a safe level. Lower blood oxygen levels can make you feel unwell and can even be dangerous in or after the flight. This means that even if you do not normally need oxygen, it may still be needed in flight. The extra oxygen keeps the blood levels of this gas at a comfortable level and keeps you safe.

If you are already receiving oxygen therapy, your flight may mean that you need to increase your flow rate.


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