Tips for Air Travel with a Medical Condition

Traveling can be stressful, and the experience can be even more challenging when you have a medical condition. However, with careful planning and preparation, you can have a safe and comfortable journey. Proper planning and preparation can ensure you’re safe and comfortable when traveling with a nonemergency medical condition. 

Whether you’re flying on a commercial flight or a nonemergency medical flight — available for individuals who require specialized care while traveling —  the following tips will help you navigate the challenges of air travel with a medical condition to ensure a successful trip.

  1. Consult With Your Physician

Before booking a flight, it’s essential to consult with your physician to determine if air travel is safe. Your doctor can provide medical advice, including necessary medications, medical equipment, and travel restrictions, and help you choose the most appropriate flight options. In addition, you may need a physician’s release to fly on non-emergency flights.

  1. Plan Carefully

Traveling with a medical condition requires extensive planning, and it’s critical to start planning as early as possible. First, make a checklist of all the necessary items, including medications, medical equipment, and medical records, to be sure you pack everything you need to avoid any complications during the trip. 

When choosing an airline, research the airline’s policies and services. For example, some airlines offer medical assistance services, like wheelchair assistance or oxygen supply, while others may not. It’s also important to check if the airline allows medical equipment onboard. In addition, inform the airline about your medical condition and any special needs you may have.

  1. Pack Necessary Medical Equipment and Medications

Packing extra supplies is a good idea in case of unexpected delays. For example, if traveling on a commercial flight, pack medical devices — insulin pumps, portable oxygen concentrators, etc. — in a carry-on bag to ensure they’re always with you. Taking a copy of your prescriptions and a list of your medications, including the dosage and frequency, is also a good idea. In addition, pack extra supplies in case of unexpected delays. If you are unsure about what is allowed on an airplane, check the TSA’s “What Can I Bring” list.

  1. Check Luggage Requirements

Pay attention to luggage restrictions if you’re flying on a non-emergency medical flight, like those offered by LifeLine Pilots. For example, weight limitations may be necessary due to the small aircraft used. The limitations are often much less than commercial airlines.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated during a flight is essential for everyone, especially those with a medical condition. It’s a good idea to bring a reusable water bottle on board and refill it as needed. It’s also a good idea to avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can cause dehydration.

  1. Move Around

Sitting for long periods can be uncomfortable and increase the risk of blood clots. If traveling on a commercial flight, stand, stretch your legs, and move around the cabin as much as possible.

  1. Be Prepared for Unexpected Emergencies

Despite careful planning, unexpected emergencies can still occur. Make sure you have a plan in place to deal with any emergencies. For example, wear a medical alert bracelet, carry a card, or take a list of emergency contacts. Being prepared with extra medication is useful is flights are delayed or canceled.

  1. Pace Yourself and Rest When Needed

Traveling can be exhausting, especially if you have a medical condition. Therefore, it’s essential to pace yourself and rest when needed. Don’t try to do too much in one day, and allow yourself time to relax and recharge. 

  1. Stay Calm

Traveling with a medical condition can be stressful, so staying calm and relaxed during the flight is essential. Bring items that help you relax, like a book, music, or a meditation app. Another tip is to practice breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques if you feel anxious.

Help Us Ensure Everyone Can Access Medical Care

Serving the Midwest, LifeLine Pilots’ volunteer pilots complete hundreds of missions annually, bringing patients to and from lifesaving medical care. They donate their time, expertise, and aircraft while covering all the expenses necessary to ensure that people needing medical and humanitarian assistance are supported. 

LifeLine Pilots was founded on the principle that everyone, regardless of income or location, should have access to quality healthcare. LifeLine Pilots receives no government funding. Instead, volunteer pilots support LifeLine Pilots by donating millions in flight time and planes ($1.9 million last year alone)! 

LifeLine Pilots can make these flights available due to the generosity of individuals, businesses, and foundations. There are so many ways you can help. Your cash or crypto contribution, or even your time as a volunteer, can ensure that a person gets the healthcare they need.