Holidaying with oxygen
Before you book a holiday, discuss your health needs with your respiratory specialist or GP.
In the UK
You can arrange oxygen for travelling within the UK through your oxygen provider. You will need to tell them your holiday details, including the dates and where you will stay.
Give as much notice as you can - if possible - 6 weeks. This is most important during busy times like Easter. But 2 weeks’ notice is often enough at less busy times of year.
Make sure the owner of the accommodation where you plan to stay is happy to have oxygen equipment and cylinders there, and get their permission to store it.
If you plan to fly, you may need a fitness-to-fly test to confirm your need for in-flight oxygen.
You may not normally need oxygen but may need it while flying due to the higher altitude. You may also need it if you go to an area at a higher altitude than you’re used to. You can test if you need oxygen at higher altitudes during the fitness to fly test. Your GP can help you to complete this test.
Airlines have their own rules about supplying oxygen and some charge to provide oxygen in-flight. Check with your airline before you book. Also check whether the flight is code-sharing. This is when a flight has one airline’s code and flight number, but is operated by another one. You will need to check with each airline involved about their own oxygen policy.
The European Lung Foundation maintains a database of dozens of airline oxygen policies for passengers.
If you need oxygen on your holiday, you’ll need to arrange oxygen at your destination before you travel. UK companies generally don’t allow their equipment to be taken outside the UK. Your respiratory specialist or oxygen supplier can give you details of oxygen providers abroad. You’ll need to organise and pay for this yourself.
You can buy or hire portable concentrators but make sure you have a spare battery pack or back-up cylinder. And remember your international plug adapters. Keep one in your hand luggage and carry a spare!
If you are going to Europe, you can arrange oxygen through the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme. You will need a valid EHIC, and you will have to use the authorised oxygen company for the country you are travelling to. For more details, visit the NHS website.
Help and support
Home oxygen suppliers
- 0808 143 9991 for London
- 0808 143 9992 for north-west England
- 0808 143 9993 for east Midlands
- 0808 143 9999 for south-west England
• Baywater Healthcare: covers Yorkshire and Humberside, West Midlands and Wales. Call: 0800 373 580.
• BOC: covers east and north-east England and Northern Ireland. Call: 0800 136 603.
• Dolby Vivisol: covers the south of England. Call: 0500 823 773. Dolby Vivisol also covers Scotland. Call 0800 833 531
Our web community is also a very useful source of information about other people’s experiences of travelling with oxygen.
Useful contacts for planning your holiday
There are many organisations that can help you plan your holiday
How I find travel insurance with my lung condition
Gordon shares his advice on holidaying with a lung condition and finding travel insurance.