Travelling with oxygen


Improve the treatment of oxygen users when travelling on planes

People with lung conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis and pulmonary hypertension often have a low level of oxygen in their blood and therefore may require oxygen treatment.

The majority of people on supplementary oxygen need it for 15 hours a day so a portable oxygen supply creates the same degree of freedom and independence that a wheelchair gives to people with other disabilities.

However, due to the policies set by different airlines, people on supplementary oxygen find it both expensive and difficult to book a flight. The vast majority of airline companies do not allow people to bring their own portable oxygen concentrator or cylinder on to their planes while simultaneously charging hundreds of pounds extra to use the supplementary oxygen that the airline provides.

BLF campaign to end disability discrimination

The British Lung Foundation believes these additional charges are a breathtaking form of disability discrimination. We are therefore campaigning to ensure that all people who need supplementary oxygen when travelling on planes can do so without paying extra.

We are calling on airlines to provide oxygen for free, to allow passengers to bring their own oxygen supply on board and to ensure that they make their policies on these issues absolutely clear.

A number of airlines have already responded positively to this campaign. On 24th August 2009 Thomson announced during the Radio 4 programme ‘You and Yours’ that they would be making their planes much more accessible for people who need supplementary oxygen.

We are encouraging other airlines to follow the good example that is now being set by Thomson – and other airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic – in ensuring that the people with a lung condition do not have to pay extra.

BLF lobbying Westminster and the European Union

EU regulations on ‘The rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air’ state that airlines should employ the necessary staff and equipment to assist people with mobility problems and that this assistance should be provided without additional charge. The regulations also state that airlines should allow both medical and mobility equipment on board for people with reduced mobility.

The BLF are therefore working with both the UK Government and the European Union to ensure that these regulations are implemented in a way that ensures people who need supplementary oxygen can travel without additional charges.

E-mail your MP in support of this campaign

To date 235 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons in support of this campaign and a similar motion has also been tabled in the Scottish Parliament.

It is important that a large number of MPs support our proposals and we are therefore asking people to e-mail their local MP asking them to sign the EDM and to write to the Transport Minister. You can easily e-mail your MP by clicking here and filling in some of your basic details.

Concerned about flying? If you or someone you care for needs supplementary oxygen and are concerned about travelling on planes then please do not hesitate to contact the BLF Helpline on 08458 50 50 20 (Mon to Fri 10 am to 6 pm).


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