New rule eases travelers' use of oxygen

/ Source: The Associated Press

Federal regulators said Wednesday they will expand protections for passengers with disabilities to cover international flights by U.S. carriers and make it easier for travelers to use oxygen equipment.

The Transportation Department said it will require airlines to let passengers use portable oxygen concentrators that are approved for use on aircraft. The department is also considering requiring airlines to provide medical oxygen to passengers upon request.

The department's announcement came less than three months after a woman on an American Airlines flight from Haiti to New York died after initially being denied oxygen. American said crews eventually tried to administer oxygen, and they and a doctor who went to the woman's aid said her heart was too weak to get a response from a defibrillator.

The department said the changes, which will take effect in one year, will also require airlines to include easy-to-read captions for the hearing-impaired in safety videos and give information on flight delays to travelers with hearing or vision problems.

The changes will apply to all flights by U.S. carriers, even those overseas, and to foreign airlines operating flights that begin or end in the United States.