Can You Fly With COPD?

Flying is a convenient way to travel, and it’s often a necessary form of transportation when you have a serious medical condition that needs to be treated quickly. Medical conditions such as COPD can make flying riskier for individuals, requiring them to find safer alternatives to traveling on commercial flights alone. Flying in an air ambulance or with a medical escort can make flights safer and more comfortable for those with COPD.

What Is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to chronic inflammatory lung diseases that restrict airflow, making breathing difficult. Individuals may develop COPD from repeated exposure to tobacco smoke or fumes from burning fuel in areas with poor ventilation.

Symptoms of COPD include:

  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tightness in chest
  • Lack of energy
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Increased mucus
  • Swelling ankles, feet and legs

COPD is a progressive disease, which means it worsens over time. While there is no cure, there are ways to treat it.

Can You Fly With COPD?

can you lfy with copd

You can fly with COPD, but there may be significant risks involved depending on how you fly. One of the most vital risks to account for is the effect of air pressure changes. The air pressure within a commercial plane decreases as it ascends, allowing more room for gases to expand. This process can make it more difficult for people with respiratory conditions such as COPD to get the oxygen they need, leading to hypoxemia.

Symptoms of hypoxemia, or low levels of oxygen in the blood, include:

  • Headaches
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Bluish skin
  • Difficulty breathing

Hypoxemia can also induce hyperventilation, respiratory muscle fatigue and sympathetic activation, worsening COPD. Sleeping on flights can put individuals with COPD at risk of lower oxygen levels, as well.

Flying Restrictions With COPD

Individuals with COPD should always check with their doctor before flying. Many commercial airlines require a doctor’s note if you plan to travel with an oxygen canister, so you will need to meet with your doctor well before your trip.

Because of the risks associated with COPD and flying, individuals may face a few flying restrictions on commercial flights. Many airlines have regulations concerning the type of oxygen you can bring on a plane, allowing only a portable oxygen concentrator (POC). You will need to notify the airline in advance about your condition and come prepared with the items you will need for your POC, such as batteries.

The Best Options for Flying With COPD

Flying alone on a commercial flight is not recommended for individuals with COPD. While it is possible to manage for those with mild cases, it can be risky and stressful for all those with the condition.

If your COPD is mild and you prefer to fly commercially, you can arrange for a medical escort to accompany you. Flying with assistance from a medical professional can bring you peace of mind and the expert attention you need in case of an emergency. You can sit in a seat or, if the airline has the proper accommodations, you may be able to stay on a stretcher throughout the flight.

For those who have severe COPD or prefer to travel with more security and reassurance, you will find the comfort and medical attention you need in an air ambulance. These aircraft come equipped with the latest medical equipment and professional medical crews to ensure your health and safety throughout your flight.

Will Insurance Cover a Flight With COPD?

Insurance providers may cover flights if they are deemed medically necessary, though it’s best to speak with your insurance company to learn what they can cover. Travel insurance may also help pay your flight expenses when you’re traveling with COPD, even for non-emergency situations. At REVA, we work closely with insurance payors to help our clients through the insurance process.

How REVA Can Help With COPD and Air Travel

REVA provides both medical escort and air ambulance services to help you travel with comfort and safety.

Medical Escorts

Our highly experienced medical professionals know how to help individuals with COPD remain safe and healthy during a flight. Our medical escorts will accompany you on a commercial airline, ensuring your well-being every step of the way. They can attend to your needs throughout the flight, helping you arrive at your destination safely and comfortably.

Air Ambulances

REVA has a fleet of dedicated air ambulance aircraft, all equipped with the latest medical equipment. Our flights are staffed by expert flight and medical crews to ensure the well-being of our clients throughout their travel experience. We offer domestic and international air ambulance flights to help you reach treatment locations quickly. We also provide non-emergency air ambulance services to help mitigate the risks of traveling with COPD.

Request a Quote From REVA Today

When you need safe and comfortable travel options when flying with COPD, trust REVA to help. Contact us today to request a quote for our medical escort or air ambulance services.