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19 August 2022

What is Airline Medical Transport?

Sometimes a patient’s medical condition is such that, while they still need urgent repatriation back to the UK, they don’t need the services of a fully equipped air ambulance. Instead, airline medical transport can be arranged.

We at IAS Medical can arrange airline medical transport in one of two ways, depending on the patient’s condition: bed-to-bed stretcher repatriation in a dedicated medical cabin (also known as a Passenger Transport Compartment, or PTC), or bed-to-bed stretcher repatriation at the back of the airliner. In both cases the patient gets the benefit of a door-to-door ambulance service at both airports, as well as a medical escort who travels with them. We provide airline medical transport in partnership with a number of major commercial airlines, arranging all aspects of the flight including ticketing for the patient and their companion; pre-flight medical clearance; oxygen approval and priority boarding.

Another option, although only suitable for the least severe cases, is medical escort repatriation. Providing a tremendous saving over the cost of a private air ambulance, the patient and their medical escort are accommodated in conventional seats on board a scheduled airliner. Although the level of medical care is very basic, and thus only suitable for non-serious cases, the patient still gets the services of an aero-medically trained escort, who will monitor and assist them during the flight, and help relieve their anxiety. This type of airline medical transport is ideal for patients with minor neurological or orthopaedic injuries, behavioural disorders and ambulatory problems.

There are many benefits to airline medical transport, not least the reduction in cost over a dedicated air ambulance, especially over long distances. Since airliners don’t generally have to stop for refuelling, the repatriation process can be speeded up, especially if it’s a direct flight between major commercial hubs. Unlike an air ambulance, where space is at a premium, the patient’s luggage and family can travel home with them (provided seats are available.)