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Woman stuck in St. Louis because of problems boarding flight with oxygen tank

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ST. LOUIS – A woman is stuck in St. Louis and her flight plans are up in the air.

Betty Lewis of Georgia said American Airlines refused to allow her to board her flight because of her oxygen tank.

“There’s no way I should be still trying to get home when I should’ve been on a flight (Thursday),” Lewis said.

A tired Lewis said she should be at home sleeping in her own bed, but instead she’s staying another night in her aunt’s home in St. Louis.

Lewis, who is oxygen tank dependent, said she had no problems getting her tank on a United Airlines flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Chicago, Illinois on August 10.

“When we left out, I had a bottle of oxygen tank on me,” she said. “As you can see, you can see it very clearly that I have it on! So they let me carry the one I have on me, but they took the spare one that I had.”

Over the past two weeks while visiting family, Lewis took a car ride from Chicago to St. Louis to see her aunt.

On Wednesday, Lewis was scheduled to fly out of Lambert on American Airlines, but to her surprise, she was stopped at check-in because of her oxygen tank.

“They told me that I could not take it on with me!” she said. “That I could not board the plane with oxygen on. I’m like, you got to be kidding me.”

Lewis said she was told the tank she has is not approved to be on flights. She was given an overnight stay at a hotel and told to come back on Thursday to figure out another flight. However, when she showed up at Lambert, Lewis said she was told she needs a proper oxygen tank that could cost up to $400.

“I don’t have $400 to rent an oxygen container,” she said.

Lewis tried to get on the flight without the oxygen tank – they wouldn’t let her.

According to Federal Aviation Administration website, only certain oxygen containers are allowed on flights.

When Fox 2 News reached out to United Airlines to find out why Lewis was allowed on its flight with the oxygen tank, we were forwarded to their policy.

Fox 2 News contacted American Airlines, and a company spokesperson reiterated that it is not an airline policy but a federal law, so there is no "wiggle room" to make special accommodations.

Lewis said while her medicine continues to get lower – she just wants to get home.

“I understand,” she said. “I understand that it’s about all and not just about one person. But I also want them to understand is that I am in pain.”


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