Through Security With No Wait? Just One of the Benefits of Travelling with a Commercial Air Medical Escort
We arranged a commercial medical flight the other day for a patient. Once we had finalized all of the details for the transport, we sent the patient and his family what we call a Patient Transport Overview. It’s a document that’s designed to give the patient and his or her family a sense of what to expect. A bit of reassuring calm in what is always, for the patient and family, a very stressful time.
Not 5 minutes after I sent the Overview to the patient and his daughter by email, I got a call from the daughter who said I must have made some mistake in planning to get through the airport in just an hour and a half. “It always takes at least three hours,” she told me.
It’s true that most of us are told to get to the airport 2-3 hours before our flight leaves (depending on the airport and the season). When I travel from Phoenix with my family, we’re always at the airport at least two hours in advance of our flight.
The reason that we can cut down the time we spend at the airport when we’re transporting a patient is that we get to follow a special process through security. It’s one that is much quicker than typical passengers are used to.
Here’s how the commercial air medical escort process works:
Upon arrival at the airport, the commercial medical escort calls for a wheelchair attendant, who is an airport employee. Of course, the medical escort will stay by the patient’s side throughout the process, but having the wheelchair attendant allows the MedFlight911 medical escort, the patient, and any accompanying passengers to bypass long passenger security lines – no waiting at all.
Let me rephrase, we actually go through the flight crew line (or skip to the front like crew members do), so I suppose if there’s a particularly slow pilot in the queue, we might have to wait a bit! Joking aside, our patients are always surprised at how this slightly-different security process is so much smoother and quicker than they’re used to.
TSA procedures for airplane passengers with special medical needs
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is still required to do a security check on the medical escort, patient, and accompanying passengers. Instead of going through the metal detector like most of us typically do, the patient and escort (and accompanying passengers) go directly to the side area where they will be scanned by a TSA official with a handheld scanning device.
Any carry-on luggage will be passed through the metal detector. Most TSA carry-on regulations still apply, though the air medical flight escort carries documentation allowing him to carry on all of the medical supplies he needs to care for the patient.
And then the medical escort, patient, and accompanying passengers are through and on their way. This smoother, quicker process is another important way that we maximize the comfort and the safety of the patients in our care.