British Lung Foundation welcomes victory on air travel discrimination

The British Lung Foundation today welcomed a significant step forward in their ongoing campaign to end the discrimination people with a lung condition can experience when they travel on planes. Thomson airlines announced that they will now allow people who rely on supplementary oxygen to access the airlines’ supply or bring their own, completely free of charge, making them an example of best practice on this issue.

Currently 90,000 people in the UK with respiratory diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Cystic Fibrosis and Pulmonary Hypertension need some form of supplementary oxygen for at least 15 hours a day due to the low levels of oxygen in their blood. For these people portable oxygen creates the same degree of freedom and independence that a wheelchair gives to people with other disabilities.

The announcement was made by Carl Gissing, Director of Customer Services for Thomson Airways on Radio 4’s ‘You and Yours’ programme following campaigning by the British Lung Foundation to end the additional charges and restrictions that are placed on people travelling with oxygen.

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 - and sometime thousands - of pounds extra to use the supplementary oxygen that the airline provides.

The British Lung Foundation believes that this is a clear case of discrimination and is writing to all major airlines that fly from the UK to ask them to drop these additional charges.

British Lung Foundation spokesperson, David Buckle said: “We are delighted that Thomson has changed their policy to make air travel more accessible for people with a lung condition who need supplementary oxygen.

“Having supplementary oxygen is as essential to someone with a lung condition as a wheelchair is to someone with other disabilities. We are now urging all other airlines to follow Thomson’s lead”.

A fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. Full medical glossary
An abbreviation for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Full medical glossary