Airline oxygen victory for campaigners


A campaign to persuade airlines to stop charging passengers who need to use extra oxygen during flights is celebrating a success after the operator Thomson Airways scrapped its charges.

Three charities – the British Lung Foundation (BLF), the Pulmonary Hypertension Association and the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign – have been campaigning for all airlines that use UK airports to drop their charges.

There was a parliamentary debate on the issue in June and 235 MPs signed Labour MP Nick Ainger’s early day motion backing the campaign.

Thomson has now removed all charges for supplementary therapeutic oxygen and is “relaxing” its policy on passengers bringing their own oxygen cylinders on board its flights.

BLF welcomed Thomson’s decision but said the “vast majority” of other airlines still do not allow people to bring their own portable oxygen concentrators or cylinders onto their planes and then charge them hundreds of pounds to use the supplementary oxygen the airlines provide.

Dame Helena Shovelton, BLF’s chief executive, said: “Supplemental oxygen is as important to people with breathing problems as a wheelchair is to people who have difficulty walking.”

A Thomson spokeswoman said: “The airline has listened to feedback from customers and disability groups who felt that these charges were unfair on those that required supplementary oxygen treatment to travel by air.”

Thomson passengers will now be able to pre-book the use of a free onboard oxygen supply; bring their own oxygen to use during the flight, as long as it is approved in advance; or use their own portable oxygen concentrator, if it meets safety requirements.

About 90,000 people in the UK need some form of supplementary oxygen due to low levels in their blood.

20 August 2009


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