Monday 25 January 2010

Oxygen on flights

Many of you will be turning your mind to planning your summer holiday, in an attempt to get away from this winter gloom. We often see the topic of troublesome travel insurance discussed, with those with CF often dreading the prospect of hours on the phone to travel insurance companies facing hefty premiums and multiple refusals; but have you thought about whether you’re going to need supplementary oxygen when jetting off to sunnier climes?

A proportion of people with Cystic Fibrosis need supplementary oxygen when flying, due to the oxygen levels in the cabin dropping at high altitude. Charges for what is an essential for many, vary greatly, with some airlines such as BA, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Thomson and Virgin all supplying free oxygen on the advice of a doctor; but others enforcing hefty charges of up to £500 per trip. A quarter of all airlines recently contacted by PHA-UK * do not supply supplementary oxygen at all.

Having done a spot of our own ‘secret shopper research’ we were disappointed not just with the costs some airlines enforce, but at the attitudes of airline employees when trying to arrange the oxygen. Extended periods of time were spent on hold, and some airlines claimed to simply ‘not know’ what to do about getting supplementary oxygen on a flight!

Together with the PHA-UK and the British Lung Foundation, we are working to change this situation. To help, please sign this petition.

*PHA-UK stands for Pulmonary Hypertension Association-UK

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