Ask the Captain: Why doesn’t the emergency oxygen mask bag inflate immediately?

Why have the bag on the emergency oxygen mask in airplanes if it does not inflate? What purpose does it serve?

– amiller,  Friday Harbor, Washington

Passenger oxygen is provided by oxygen generators. These generators produce oxygen at a given rate, which flows into the bag until you inhale. The bag is the collection vessel, pulling in more oxygen for you to inhale. 

This system has been extensively tested and proven when there is a pressurization problem that requires deployment of passenger oxygen.

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