What Does Traveling on a Commercial Airline Stretcher Look Like?

David A. Farcy / August 14, 2023 /

A patient may need to transfer to a different hospital for higher-quality medical care or receive care in their home country after traveling abroad. Traveling on a commercial airline stretcher or requesting private medical transport helps patients reach hospitals safely. Understanding how a commercial airline stretcher differs from a private medical flight service can help you choose the best option in an emergency or non-emergency situation.

Importance of Medical Escort, Evacuation and Repatriation

Medical escort, repatriation and evacuation services provide patient transfer and medical care when an individual requires care in a different location. Medical providers can administer care and keep patients safe on commercial or private airline jets. A patient may require these services for various reasons. For example, someone traveling outside of their home country may experience a sudden health issue that requires medical escort services to get them care back home.

What Is a Commercial Airline Stretcher?

A commercial airline stretcher is a medical bed designed to transport patients safely when they cannot sit up. Using this type of patient stretcher allows individuals to remain safe, comfortable and secure during a flight. It also allows them to receive medication or medical interventions if complications arise.

Commercial airline stretcher services facilitate patient transportation on a scheduled commercial flight. This service allows patients to travel with their loved ones and a medical team. Patients typically request airline stretcher service when they are stable but must lie down during their flight.

What Does Traveling on a Commercial Airline Stretcher Look Like?

An air ambulance stretcher allows a patient to lie down during an entire flight, enjoy moral support from loved ones and receive medical care with some privacy from other passengers. A medical team escorts the patient from the hospital and through the airport, ensuring safety and providing care if necessary.

Medical providers also help the patient board the flight on a stretcher, administer care as necessary and transport the patient to the next hospital upon landing. The medical team can place an airline stretcher over folded airline seats with a privacy curtain, or they can place the stretcher in a compartment separate from the main passenger cabin.

A separate transport compartment is typically necessary when a patient requiring critical care travels on a long flight. A separate compartment provides a small amount of additional space and medical equipment, such as:

  • Defibrillators
  • Portable ECG machines
  • Oxygen tanks
  • Infection prevention materials
  • Injection pumps
  • Artificial respiration equipment

A medical team can only transport a patient via a separate patient compartment on a scheduled flight if the airline approves it. Airlines rarely approve separate patient compartments, so arranging this type of transportation can be challenging. Other flight options offer more comfort and convenience for patients, their family members, their medical teams and flight coordinators.

What Does Traveling on a Private Air Ambulance Look Like?

When an individual requests private air evacuation services, a trained medical team picks them up, evaluates their condition and helps them determine the nearest facility for the necessary care. The patient then travels on a private aircraft with the care team and receives medication and medical intervention as needed.

Private medical evacuation and repatriation services provide air and ground transportation. The experienced flight team transports the patient quickly and safely, helping them reach the hospital equipped to provide the required treatment.

Benefits of Private Air Ambulance Services

In many situations, using a private air ambulance is safer and more convenient than traveling via a commercial airline jet. While a stretcher on a commercial flight provides comfortable patient transfer, an air ambulance provides increased comfort and convenience, greater privacy, faster medical transfer and a higher level of care.

Consider the following benefits of scheduling a private medical flight:

Higher Level of Care

While a commercial stretcher allows patients to receive care when they are stable, a private air ambulance is necessary in critical situations. Life-threatening illnesses and injuries require intensive care, and a medical team must have the space and equipment to perform life-saving measures.

A private air ambulance team transports patients on a fully-equipped private jet. They have all the necessary equipment, training and space to provide excellent care and treatment.

Faster Transfer

Private air ambulance services also provide faster transfer, which is ideal for patients requiring immediate care. Because private flights are already equipped with medical equipment, a medical evacuation team can board patients without making special arrangements. Air evacuation teams handle paperwork, pick patients up and transfer them directly to a private medical jet rather than escorting them through a busy commercial airport.

Air ambulances are also faster because they transport patients without transit or delays. Some commercial flight routes require passengers to transfer to one or more additional jets to reach their destinations, which slows a patient’s journey to their next hospital. A private flight transfers a patient directly from one location or hospital to another, allowing patients to reach the necessary hospital and receive care as soon as possible.

Comfort and Convenience

Flying on a private medical evacuation jet is more comfortable and convenient than commercial stretcher transport. Flying on a commercial stretcher requires airline approval, special planning, equipment loading and airport security checks. These factors increase the time a patient needs to wait to board an aircraft and reach their destination, making it a more stressful experience. A private air evacuation provides an easier, calmer experience for patients.

A private airline jet also allows patients more privacy. While commercial stretcher service provides a privacy curtain or separate aircraft compartment, patients may still experience high noise levels and become exposed to more germs on a commercial flight. A private jet offers full privacy. With fewer people on board, patients can also fly with a reduced risk of airborne viruses and pathogens.

When Is Medical Escort, Evacuation or Repatriation Necessary?

Medical escort, repatriation or evacuation is necessary when a patient needs to reach the nearest hospital from a remote location, a hospital closer to home or a hospital offering a higher level of care. Patients request air evacuation services when they need to do the following:

Reach the Nearest Hospital Rapidly

Critical injuries, conditions and illnesses sometimes require immediate care. For example, every minute spent waiting for care reduces an individual’s chance of surviving a stroke. Reaching a hospital as fast as possible increases a person’s chance of survival and reduces the likelihood of complications during recovery.

Medical evacuation teams can transport individuals from remote locations to the nearest hospitals. This is especially essential when individuals travel abroad and explore locations far from medical facilities. Driving or using public transportation can delay medical care if the nearest hospital is hours away. Medical air evacuation services transport sick or injured individuals quickly while a medical team provides emergency care.

Travel Home for Medical Care

Travelers may become ill or injured while abroad and wish to receive care in their home countries, such as to avoid language barriers and unfamiliar insurance guidelines. Patients often feel more comfortable receiving care from their regular providers when undergoing treatments or making medical decisions. Medical repatriation services can help patients travel to their preferred hospitals when they experience an illness or injury abroad.

Travel Abroad for a Higher Level of Care or Special Procedure

Medical care quality and treatment availability vary by country. Some countries offer medical advancements and new treatments unavailable in other countries.

When a patient needs a special procedure or treatment in another country, medical evacuation can help them reach the hospital providing it. For example, a cancer patient may request medical repatriation services to reach a hospital offering cutting-edge treatment. Traveling on a commercial airline stretcher or private medical evacuation jet allows them to reach the hospital with a medical care team’s support.

What Do Patients Need for Commercial Stretcher Services and Private Air Evacuation Services?


Patients may need assistance paying for air evacuation services. The following resources can help cover medical evacuation and repatriation flights:

Medical Insurance

Medical insurance helps patients pay for emergency evacuation and repatriation services. REVA works with all major health insurance providers, and our Revenue Cycle Management team navigates each patient’s policy. We verify benefits, provide each patient with financial options, prepare insurance claims and help patients manage claim rights.

Travel Medical Insurance

Travel medical insurance plans are also important when visiting another country. Make sure your travel medical insurance plan covers emergency medical transportation. This travel coverage can help you pay for evacuation services if your regular policy excludes medical evacuation coverage. Some travel medical insurance policies offer evacuation benefit limits as high as $500,000 or $1 million.

Supplemental Travel Protection Membership

Most insurance plans only offer medical transportation to the nearest acceptable hospital or medical facility. Joining a travel protection membership allows individuals to supplement their coverage and choose the medical facility they transfer to.

You can join ARREVA to enjoy peace of mind and receive cost-effective, reliable crisis response when necessary. With the right coverage and a travel protection membership, you can reach the highest-quality hospitals of your choice when you become ill or injured while traveling.

How to Receive Commercial or Private Medical Evacuation Services

Understanding how to request emergency medical evacuation or repatriation services helps you remain prepared. You can request private medical air transportation in the following situations:

Experiencing a Medical Emergency Abroad

The first thing you should do when experiencing a medical emergency abroad is contact the country’s local emergency services. Each country has a specific emergency number, so you should memorize the number before your trip. You can then call REVA at 954-730-9300 to request emergency evacuation to the nearest quality hospital.

Requesting Medical Repatriation Services

If you want to transfer from a hospital in another country to one in your home country, you can request medical repatriation services from REVA. When you contact us for a quote, our team confirms your condition and medical necessity for repatriation, and we coordinate all of the transport aspects to take you home safely.

Requesting Medical Escort Assistance

REVA also offers medical escort services to provide care on commercial flights. A REVA medical escort team travels with a patient to address their medical needs and help them reach their destination safely.

Why Choose REVA?

REVA offers high-quality private air evacuation and medical repatriation services. You can depend on REVA for your medical transport needs because we offer the following benefits:

Superior Flight Safety

REVA prioritizes safety with effective procedures and policies to ensure smooth transportation. We provide high-quality medical care and safe transportation with the following factors:

  • Regular flight team training
  • Flight-risk assessments
  • Flight-risk control assessments
  • A safety-management system that exceeds International Civil Aviation Organization guidelines, Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations and Federal Aviation Administration requirements
  • Quality aircraft maintenance

REVA’s flight teams receive training from in-house instructors. We work with the world’s leading aviation training program, Flight Safety International, to ensure each team member exceeds safety standards with extensive ongoing training.

High-Quality Care

You can also expect high-quality care when you request a REVA medical transport flight. Our medical team receives weekly, quarterly and annual training to provide the best medical care possible during flights. We ensure each patient receives the specific care they need by assigning the medical team specializing in their condition.


REVA evaluates each patient’s condition, arranges paperwork and works with insurance companies to make each medical transport as easy as possible. We also update family members throughout each patient’s journey to ensure their loved ones remain informed. You can expect a smooth experience from the time you contact REVA to your safe arrival at your destination.

Trust REVA With Your Medical Air Transportation Needs

Commercial airline stretchers help patients travel comfortably on commercial flights, but private air ambulance services provide greater safety, medical care and convenience. REVA’s private medical evacuation and repatriation services help individuals travel for necessary treatment.

Our expert medical and flight teams transport patients quickly and safely, providing critical in-flight care. Upon landing, teams move patients via private ground transportation to reach their destination hospitals. REVA facilitates convenient medical transportation by handling all documentation, working with insurance companies and updating each patient’s family members throughout the process.

If you experience a medical emergency abroad or need to transfer to a higher-quality hospital to treat a worsening condition, REVA can help. You can trust REVA to transport you safely with bed-to-bed service. We provide ground and air transportation to make each medical transport as smooth as possible. Contact REVA to request a quote and learn more about our medical escort and air ambulance services.