When someone falls ill or has an accident abroad they sometimes require specialist patient transport. But depending on their condition, it is sometimes possible for them to travel home on a commercial flight. By law, airlines must accommodate and assist passengers who need to take medicines and medical equipment on their flights, as long as it’s safe to do so. Here’s a brief guide to what’s permitted on flights.
You can take 100ml of essential medicine in your hand luggage, but you’ll need a doctor’s letter or a copy of your prescription, and airport security staff may need to open the container to screen the liquid.
It’s worth checking if your airline has particular stipulations or exceptions. EasyJet, for example, will allow you to take more than 100ml of liquid medicine through security with a doctor’s letter. You won’t be able to refrigerate your medicine on board so you’ll need to take gel packs or cooler bags to maintain its temperature. You should also be able to take needles and syringes with you, but you’ll need to take supporting documents from your doctor or a copy of your prescription. And make sure your medication doesn’t contain any ingredients that are illegal in the country to which you’re travelling.
A wide range of medical equipment is permitted on flights. To take your equipment into the passenger cabin with you, it must be portable and fit the airline’s standard cabin baggage size limitations. As well as wheelchairs, crutches and other mobility aids, permitted equipment includes dialysis machines, CPAP machines, nebulisers, and TENS machines. Generally, passengers can take two pieces of medical equipment with them – but contact your airline at the time of booking to make sure. Large pieces of medical equipment may be permitted in the hold.
Your equipment will need to be battery powered, because most airlines don’t have an electrical supply for passenger use. This means that you must be able to store enough power for the duration of the flight – and you won’t be able to use your equipment during take-off or landing, just like any other piece of electrical equipment. Further to this, you’ll need to check your airline’s regulations on carrying batteries.
If you need to take an oxygen supply with you on your flight, you’ll need to check the requirements of your airline. Some airlines allow passengers to carry small oxygen cylinders, but some only allow oxygen concentrators, and won’t allow passengers’ own oxygen canisters onboard. Again, the oxygen supply must be battery powered, and you’ll probably need to register your equipment in advance of your flight. The British Lung Foundation has advice on travelling with oxygen equipment.
What if I can’t fly?
Flying with a commercial airline can be problematic for passengers who need to take more medicine than permitted, or who can’t switch off their medical equipment during take-off and landing.
At EMS, we specialise in medical repatriation. We can get you home safely via road or air ambulance using the latest medical equipment and a dedicated medical staff. For any further questions on patient transport, please, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help.