Traveling has a way of being one of the most exciting and stressful situations to be in, all at the same time. On one hand you have the joys of traveling to a place you love or have never been and you get to experience it with your family or friends. On the other hand you have the stresses of booking/paying for the flight, making your flight on time, dealing with security, and making sure you met all of the requirements of your airline to fly with oxygen. Not to mention, traveling isn't always for leisure.
Traveling for business or traveling for a funeral can increase the amount of stress you are under. While most of the time you can travel without a hitch, you will want to do everything you can to ensure you don't experience a situation like James and Mary Walker went through on a flight from Ohio to Orlando.
What began as a somber trip for James and Mary to go to Orlando, FL turned out to be a nightmare. They flew from Ohio to Orlando for their daughter's funeral with the Respironics SimplyGo, an FAA approved portable oxygen concentrator. On the flight from Ohio to Florida, Mary didn't have any issues bringing the concentrator on board.
Mary doesn't need oxygen 24/7, she brought it in case of an emergency because she suffers from a heart condition.
However, the flight home would be the exact opposite of the flight out. James and Mary boarded the plane like normal and as they were waiting to depart from the gate Allegiant Air abruptly removed them from the flight. Due to Allegiant's flying schedule, the Walker's were unable to fly out of Orlando for another three days.
In an embarrassing and frustrating situation Mary said, "It's like you're a criminal or something like that."
James added, "It's an inconvenience and it's costing me more money because of their stupidity."
Why would Allegiant Air remove a couple that had no issues flying with their concentrator just days before? The airline gave a couple of different reasons citing that Mary did not have a backup battery nor did she have proper paperwork from her physician.
Having ample battery life and the proper forms from your doctor are required to fly with an oxygen concentrator which makes you wonder how James and Mary flew out to Orlando in the first place.
In a statement Allegiant Air also said, "Oxygen concentrators are highly flammable. These policies are designed to ensure, for everyone's safety, that an oxygen concentrator has been recently inspected."
Here you can see a cellphone video of Allegiant Air removing the Walkers from the flight:
This should be an important reminder for you to double check your airline's requirements for traveling with oxygen. If you are unsure of what you will need, call the airline or visit their website to get a complete list of requirements. Make sure you keep your oxygen supplier's phone number on hand in the event that you have an encounter like Mary and James to ensure you have someone to call to try and help set the record straight.