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Family Member

Air Medical Travel is Complex – Let an Expert Take You Safely Home
family testimonial


An illness or catastrophic event can be devastating to a family. Life is disrupted and the emotional strain is immense. Transporting a patient by means of air medical services is a complex specialty. Air ambulance transports certainly fulfill a medical need for the emergency evacuation. During the recovery phase many patients can be safely transported on a commercial airliner with the assistance of a skilled, licensed flight nurse. When it comes to a patient’s transfer needs, many facilities do not have an established travel assistance program.  Most often, patients requiring flight care are taking a significant risk traveling home alone, with family members, or with a medically untrained individual with little or no flight transport experience. Some patients have unnecessarily resorted to private air ambulance companies at an exceedingly high and unjustified cost. Others have accepted the services of a hospital nurse caring for the patient but often they have no flight training or no professional liability insurance for this service. With over 20 years of commercial flight experience, we can offer an appropriate evaluation to determine how to safely transport your patient to their desired destination.


Though we encourage you to contact us at any time, we first recommend that you contact the social worker or case manager of the facility where your family member is a patient and advise them of your wishes for transfer. If your family member is at home, you should contact their primary care physician. Both of these resources can assist you in selecting an appropriate receiving facility for patient transfer. Once a facility is chosen, one of our team of advanced practice registered nurses, will evaluate, make recommendations and assist you and the health care team in this complex process. We will coordinate all ground and air transportation from destination to destination. Safety is our FIRST priority. We are very conservative in our approach to feel confident that this safety priority is being met.


We assist patients with restricted ambulation and orthopedic injuries. We care for behavioral health disorders and neurological injuries. We administer supplemental oxygen and provide for complex respiratory needs. Many of our patients require full assist lifting transfers from bed, to chair, to aircraft seat. Intravenous hydration, intravenous medications, sedatives and pain relief, can be administered in-flight. Many patients require fully dependent care and may be limited in communicating their needs. We make every attempt to customize their medical travel plan. The patient’s comfort and safety is our highest priority. If we do not feel we can meet this priority, we may decline services until we are confident this can be fulfilled.


For safety reasons, patient comfort and respect for other passengers, we require that our patients travel in the first class or business class cabin. Our nurses travel in economy when not traveling with their patients. For long distance travel, stretcher services can be evaluated but are rarely offered by airline carriers.  Stretchers are uncomfortable for the patient, offer no privacy, are costly and generally not advised. As an alternative, some international carriers offer first class seats that lie flat. Requesting a stretcher may alert the airline that a passenger is less stable than they desire. We will discuss all appropriate options with you.


Contact us by phone, email or complete our website Transport Inquiry Form.  We generally can be ready to travel within 48-72 hrs dependent on patient needs and flight availability.


We will review the patient’s medical requirements with you to determine if our service of commercial transport is appropriate. Next we will put together a preliminary quote for your consideration. If we feel the patient is not quite ready for transport due to such things as mobility or oxygen impairments, we will advise you or the health care team how to prepare the patient.


When you wish to proceed you will need: The family and healthcare team in agreement with one family spokesperson.  A receiving facility identified along with a proposed date of travel.  From there, you will work with one Flight RN Coordinator.


  • Request an official medical report from the patient’s hospital records and a verbal nursing report from the health care member caring for the patient. The purpose of this is to ascertain if the patient is deemed fit to travel. After review, we will immediately make recommendations to you and the health care team to prepare the patient for travel.
  • Begin securing a proposed airline itinerary for the date you desire. Immediate consideration is given to ordering airline oxygen, due to a 48 hour minimum notice required by most carriers. We will speak with the medical department of the airline regarding oxygen and special medical requests. We have long-term trustworthy relationships established with most US and international airline carriers.
  • Confirm availability of our flight nurse staff and select a nurse to travel based on the location closest to the sending or receiving facility.
  • Coordinate the channels of communication between hospital administration, family members, medical staff, interdisciplinary teams, case managers, insurance companies and financial institutions.
  • Advise the health care team, patient and family as to the necessary steps to prepare the patient for a commercial flight and follow up that these steps are indeed being done.
  • Request specific medical orders and medical clearance documents from the discharging physician. We must have a signed commercial airline medical clearance form from the patient’s physician.
  • Organize each additional travel detail from ground transportation, layover assistance, ground and in-flight oxygen, specialized medical equipment, and international travel documents.


Medical treatment is administered under the direction of the discharging physician’s medical orders. Medications are prescribed and dispensed by the sending facility in accordance with those medical orders. Fitness to Fly and Airline Medical Clearances are obtained from the discharging physician and the medical department of the airline carrier. In-flight emergency treatment is performed in accordance with the American Heart Association Basic Life Support standards. If a patient has an advanced health care directive or wishes no heroic measures be done in-flight, this will be respected under the direction of the patient and/or patient’s guardian with appropriate documentation from the primary care physician.


We are eager to offer any information that we may have in assisting you with this complex and timely process. We are available seven days a week and can be ready to travel within 48-72 hours dependent on patient needs and flight availability.

*Flying Nurses International is not affiliated or otherwise associated with InteliStaf or its “Flying Nurses” travel nurse staffing division.*