medical air ambulance takeoff - Angel MedFlight


March 31, 2017

Medical Transports on Commercial Airlines – When to Use an Air Ambulance Provider

BY Angel MedFlight
Air Ambulance vs. Commercial Airlines for Medical Flights

Moving from one hospital to another during a medical crisis presents many challenges. The large commercial airlines have regulations and policies that restrict certain types of patient transfers. Though many airlines like American and Southwest provide special travel arrangement programs but sometimes it’s not enough. Patients with medical oxygen needs or other ambulatory needs might require assistance of a medical flight through an air ambulance provider.


Examples of Commercial Airlines Special Travel Arrangement Programs

  • Cognitive and developmental assistance
  • Extra space during travel
  • Hearing assistance
  • Mobility and medical devices
  • Vision assistance
  • Traveling while pregnant


Oxygen Needs on a Commercial Airlines Flight

American and Southwest Airlines are not equipped to transport or provide medical oxygen during commercial air travel. Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) that are approved by the FAA are allowed on commercial airlines flights but many carriers require advanced notification prior to the flight and POCs generally must fit underneath the seat in front of you. Patients requiring a constant supply of compressed or liquid medical oxygen should seek a medical flight through a provider outfitted to provide care in the air.


Looking for Other Options

When commercial airlines aren’t able to accommodate or provide adequate clinical attention during air travel, air ambulance providers fill the gap. Air Ambulance companies arranges domestic and international air ambulance transportation using medically equipped fixed-wing aircraft.

Nurses and paramedics can provide comprehensive emergency and critical care to all types of patients. Unlike a commercial airline, a medical flight provider can treat patients. Some of the advantages of medical transport may include getting a patient to a higher level of care, repatriated back into the United States, to a life-saving organ, or to a specialized physician team that has the ability to treat a certain patient condition.


Examples of Patient Transport on a Medical Flight

  • Severe burns and wounds
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Organ transplant recipients
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Cancer treatment


Commercial airlines have detailed policy guidelines of what types of medical conditions and devices they can transport. If patient condition is unstable or needs to be monitored during a transfer, flight attendants aren’t trained clinically to handle all situations and scenarios. Air ambulance providers are staffed with flight nurses and paramedics trained to handle any medical situation that may arise.

If you have any questions about whether an air ambulance is better suited for your particular needs, Angel MedFlight Air Ambulance is staffed 24/7 to answer any questions about air medical transportation. Your mission is our priority.


Contact a flight coordinator to discuss more today 877-264-3570