Airlines ordered to allow portable concentrators

Sunday, May 18, 2008

WASHINGTON - The skies just got friendlier for oxygen patients who want to travel with their own portable concentrators.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on May 7 amended the Airline Carrier Access Act, making it mandatory for all airlines to allow passengers to board using their own, DOT-approved concentrators. Prior to the ruling, it was left up to the airlines.

"This revised rule expands the protections people with disabilities will enjoy while traveling by air," said Mary Peters, U.S. Transportation Secretary in a release.

The ruling is expected to go into effect in one year, but Kelly Riley, director of The MED Group's National Respiratory Network, said she expects to see widespread acceptance among the airlines occur much sooner.

"Things were easing up already quite a bit with the advent of POCs," she said. "I'd be really surprised if it's a year before we see this complied with."

The approved concentrators are: AirSep's FreeStyle and LifeStyle, the Inogen One, SeQual's Eclipse and Respironics' EverGo.

The new rule applies to U.S. airlines worldwide, as well as to foreign airlines operating a fight to or from the United States. The ruling will make it easier for the DOT to enforce the regulations if a foreign airline does not comply.