International Life Flight

Air Ambulance vs Commercial Flight: What’s the Difference?


Air Ambulance vs Commercial Flight: What’s the Difference?

You may not know that flying with a medical escort on a commercial aircraft is a completely different experience than traveling with medical airlift companies. That’s okay- most people don’t. Each form of transport has distinguishing characteristics, and understanding the differences between commercial transportation and professional medical transportation can help you or a loved one make the important decision when the time comes.

Medflight air ambulances are either helicopters or airplanes; here, we will discuss airplanes. An air ambulance plane is a fixed-wing aircraft that is uniquely designed for the sole purpose of transporting patients. Because of this, they look quite different from commercial aircrafts on the inside. Instead of long rows of seats, planes designed for medical transportation contain space for a stretcher, ventilator and IV pump, life support system, defibrillators, ECGs, a variety of emergency medications, and all the tools necessary for properly charting and tracking a patient’s status. They can also be equipped with specialized tools such as dysrhythmia monitors and fetal heart monitors.

But the differences between a commercial flight and a medflight go beyond medical equipment:

  • Crew: Air ambulances don’t have flight attendants, but they do have a professionally trained medical team whose singular focus is your safety and care during your medical flight.
  • Passengers: Medical transportation aircrafts are much smaller than commercial planes, and, after the pilots, medical crew, flight nurse, and patient are on-board, can typically only accommodate one or two other persons. One exception is the heavy duty jet, Gulf Stream.
  • Carry-on Luggage: Space is limited on medflight aircrafts, often with room for just one standard-sized carry-on. Extra items should be shipped separately.
  • Washroom: Generally, an air ambulance doesn’t have facilities. If you’re accompanying a patient on a medflight, it’s a good idea to use a restroom before boarding.
  • Cost: An air ambulance flight typically costs more than medical escort service on a commercial plane- and for good reasons: first, a private air ambulance is yours alone so the cost isn’t being shared with other passengers; second, your medical aircraft is fully equipped with more specialized (and expensive) tools than an escort could carry on a commercial plane.

Here at iLife Flight, we are take pride in being a leader among Arizona’s medical airlift companies. We can help you arrange for the shipment of extra luggage, determine the necessary medical equipment, and organize the appropriate medical team and flight nurses for your critical care needs. Our Flight Coordinators can also help determine the cost of your medical transportation, and whether insurance can help alleviate some of those costs. We’re here to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so please call us at (800) 538-9875 or contact us online.


This entry was posted on Thursday, April 18th, 2013 at 9:24 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.