Patients Win in New Airline Ruling
May 8, 2008
Oxygen patients will have easier travel, thanks to a new ruling by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that says airlines must accept certain approved portable oxygen concentrators onboard flights.
AARC was a major player in the effort to get a nationwide ruling that would require air carriers to board passengers with any of the DOT-approved concentrators. AARC joined with other groups in the Airline Oxygen Council of America (AOCA), which spearheaded the effort to ease access to medical oxygen for passengers. Other organizations in the AOCA include the Alpha-1 Foundation and the U.S. COPD Foundation.
“For a couple of years now, airlines could chose whether to allow DOT-approved oxygen concentrators and many chose not to,” said Cheryl West, director of government affairs. “This ruling makes it mandatory for all airlines to let patients aboard with their approved devices.”
The new rule will make it easier for passengers to use medical oxygen during flights by requiring airlines to allow the use in the passenger cabin of portable oxygen concentrators that meet applicable safety, security and hazardous materials requirements for safe use aboard aircraft.
Miriam O’Day, who heads the AARC’s legislative efforts in Washington DC, was a key player in the fight to get a mandatory ruling from the DOT. O’Day represented the AOCA’s positions to the DOT. “This is great news for the patients who must travel with oxygen,” she said. “Travel will be so much more accessible and convenient for them. It’s safe, it’s secure and it opens many possibilities for those who have been reluctant to travel in the past.”
The rule will apply to U.S. air carriers worldwide and to foreign air carriers whose flights begin or end in the U.S.
The new rule takes effect in one year to give airlines time to implement the regulation. You can read the final rule at www.regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2004-19482.