British Lung Foundation
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Airport Assistance

Hello all

My name is Carol and i work on the BLF helpline, we are getting quite a few queries about going on holiday at the moment (as everyone is dreaming of a bit of sunshine due to good old British Weather) as well as providing advice on oxygen abroad, travel insurance companies and general tips and hints on travel we would also like to expand this to airport facilities. we would love to hear about anyone’s experience in the airports e.g. did they get oxygen provided were the facilities suitable, were they assisted on and off their flights. This information would be really helpful so we can provide callers on what services they can expect at the airport they are flying from.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

Kind regards


6 Replies

Hi - I have my own POC for use in the airport, but occasionally have oxygen, free of charge, provided on the plane. If you need oxygen provided, then you have to ask at the time of making your booking. Make sure they have agreed as, I believe, some airlines only allow one oxygen user per flight. Haven't got a clue why.

I only fly with BA from Heathrow (T5) - just prefer it - and have to say that everyone I have encountered has been more than helpful. Wheelchair will either collect me from the check-in desk or I can hobble across to the Disabled desk, where wheelchair will scoop me up. Then taken through security - fast track - and either to my gate or to the disabled lounge, stopping on the way to buy some lunch, fill up my water bottle, go to the loo or what ever. If taken to the disabled lounge (there is a loo in the one at T5), I am then collected either by buggy or wheelchair and taken to gate. Can be taken down to plane or can opt to hobble myself - my choice. The passengers with special needs are allowed to board first, which is brilliant as you do not have others getting in your way or knocking you; also the staff can take time to make sure you are ok.

When I get to the other end, there is a wheelchair waiting for me; I am taken through passport control and on to baggage, where the wheelchair driver will hoick my case off the carousel. I am then taken outside to find my taxi driver or whatever and I am on my way, having been well looked after and with minimum of energy on my part. Exactly the same happens on the way back. It could not be more streamlined.

Word of advice - do not buy bottled water at Heathrow, unless you have access to a mortgage. Take an empty bottle through with you, which you are allowed to do, and then fill up at one of the water stations.

Also, if the plane cannot land near a hub, but on the tarmac, then they will get a medilift device and float you up and down in this. Not a problem.

Fit to fly - if you need oxygen, your airline will want to see this. they may, as BA and, I believe, Thompsons, do, file it away and you only need to refer to it when making a booking. Mine states oxygen user, own POC and needs wheelchair.

Oxygen abroad - I use my on POC, so no experience.

Travel insurance - have started a thread on that. If you are an oxygen user, another mortgage I am afraid.

Just an afterthought - could BLF not start up a campaign to get insurers to be more reasonable when dealing with oxygen users. If my condition has been stable for x no of years, I have never been hospitalised, I take antibiotics and steroids with me - where is the danger???


apologies for the ignorance but what does POC stand for, I have oxygen on demand status but Brompton have recommended using oxygen on excertion. Many thanks.


Portable Oxygen Concentrator - I have the Freestyle, which can be slung over the shoulder and is fairly lightweight. I also have the additional battery belt, which gives an extended time. The Freestyle only operates on pulse / demand and I find that it suits me as I can cope with my 15 hours a day when away from home.


Hi, Not all airlines carry oxegen tanks and those that do can charge. Every airport must provide assistance and I think the best advice you could give members would be to book their flights direct with the airline after checking whether they carry oxygen which can be found on all airline websites. They will also have a link to airport services for people with a disability. It can be time consuming but most travel agent don't have the time to deal with these as most peoples disabilities are different so I always find it best to search. Now that's the flight part but that leaves the hotel, transfers and insurance. My advice on hotels would be to book with an online travel agency who is ABTA protected and will ing to help. The best on I have found is or if you are after all inclusive then their other website which is They also offer transfers for those who are in a wheelchair. Insurance is another problem as this can sometimes cost more than the holiday but you shoould never go on holiday without it. You should also declare all disabilites as if you don't then your policy will become void. If (like me) your member uses Nationwide then these offer free basic holiday insurance you would need to make them aware of your disabilities foor which they will cahrge a premium. A goog online website is with the same hotel companies I mentioned earlier and these can be found at but you would need medical screening cover. I hope this helps. BTw the best destination I have found is Los Cristianos in Tenerife as it really is disabled friendly.


I have booked once with Virgin and had no problems. However, I usually use Thomson (9 times). They make a search for me, using my criteria, or will get extra information for me about a particular hotel or resort if I ask. This means I can book at the travel agents or via telephone (but unfortunately not on line as yet). I make them aware of what I need, for example wheelchair user, assistance needed to embark/disembark, and they arrange it. They also supply me with the oxygen I need during the flight, and unlike some other companies they make no charge for this.

Also, I point out that I would book online if I was not disabled and in need of special arrangements being made and so they also give me their online discount.

1 like

Hi all,

Have to agree, in the UK seems BA, Thomsons & Virgin make no charge but as has been mentioned above will probably only supply 02 for one user per flight. Have to say am not sure if they would accept others with their own POC's.

This link tells you which airlines are helpful and what their charges are.


Yes I do agree that insurance companies charge far too much for those of us on home oxygen, and I am told by one of them this is because of all the repatriations they have to contend with. I for one would definitley like to see the figures/evidence relating to COPD on this premise! Most of us go equipped; full meds including steroids and antibiotics, nebulisers, 02/POC, walkers, chairs, scooters etc. We would have to be extremely unlucky to fall foul after all that.

Seems to me the only "pre-conditions" they will accept are bunions!! I rest my case.

In answer to Carol's question: I have never been refused wheelchair assist at each end of my journey and everyone has been incredibly helpful and kind. One even took me out to my cab in the chair for the return home as my POC had gone down and I couldn't walk without it. Yes they do collect your luggage as well. Wonderful people.

Good luck all who are going away out of this absolute quagmire - hope you find a bit of warmth



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