Air ambulance or scheduled flight – what makes more sense?

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Medical transport on a commercial flight is the most economical way of transporting injured or sick people by air. However, it is worth noting that this is only possible for less complex illnesses when patients are not dependent on artificial respiration or other intensive care procedures during the patient transport.

Patient transport on a commercial flight

So how is patient transport conducted on a scheduled flight from a commercial airliner?

Several rows of seats are removed to accommodate a special transport stretcher bed. On average, it takes 1-2 days to obtain approval for this process. While such medical flights are usually mostly adequate for direct flights from the airport of departure to the final destination, scheduled flights are also possible if it is reasonable for you to change flights. However, despite the option to transit, it is worth noting that any delays on the first leg of your flight may lead to overall delays or cancellations on a later leg of your journey.

Air-ambulance or scheduled flight – what makes more sense?

Flying in a Patient Transport Compartment

It is also generally possible to transport intensive care patients via the stretcher service on a commercial plane using the so-called PTC (Patient Transport Compartment). This is a compact mini cabin placed in the aircraft from the commercial airline. It is fitted with medical equipment found in an ICU. The mini cabin, in addition to the adjustable stretcher and the medical team guarantee maximum privacy for everyone involved with partition walls on both sides. However, it takes more time to prepare such aircraft, time which, in most cases, patients in need of immediate critical care do not have because of their medical urgency and state. It should be noted that in both cases, the medical escort will be alongside the patient on the aircraft. His role is to administer medical care to the patient if necessary. 

Air ambulance aircraft for patient transport 

In many cases, especially when it concerns the medical transportation of intensive care patients, only a private ambulance aircraft comes into consideration. With an air ambulance, it is possible to arrange medevac or medical repatriation at extremely short notice (depending on the trajectory after one hour upwards); it guarantees best-possible patient care during the entire patient transport. It is not necessary to take “normal” passengers or potential breaches of patient privacy into consideration when travelling via such an air ambulance. The medical crew as well as the accompanying persons have the necessary leg space to comprehensively care for the patient and his/her wellbeing. Moreover, the handling at the airport is significantly quicker with a private air ambulance. In contrast, it takes significantly longer for the patient and for other passengers to board a scheduled flight from a commercial airline when there is a medical stretcher involved. Additionally, on our dedicated air ambulances, the patient will be able to benefit from state-of-the-art equipment and medical personnel, comprising of a doctor and a paramedic. This ensures that even patients needing critical care can fly safely. 

air ambulance

Each type of medical transport by air has its distinct advantages, as you might have noticed. You can opt for a commercial stretcher and medical escort service on an airline or a private air ambulance depending on your case. To make sure that you opt for the best air ambulance service, we, as aeromedical experts, consult you on the optimal medical air service for your case, free of costs or obligation. Our priority is ensuring that the patient reaches the destination safely, while benefiting from all the required medical facilities in-flight. You can call us directly, write an email, or fill out the contact form. Our office is staffed each day, round the clock, so you always find a ready ear for your request.

Do you have any questions?

If you require more information about the organization of a commercial stretcher on a plane or about medical flights via private air ambulances, please see our FAQs.

Contact us

We are happy to advise you on whether patient transportation via a medical stretcher on a scheduled flight is appropriate for you, or whether medical service, such as a private air ambulance, would be more suitable. Our team is available 24/7 for a free, no-obligation consultation to find the best way forward for your medevac mission. Within hours, we can arrange your medical repatriation from a foreign country, wherever you are in the world.

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