Hospice Care and Air Travel

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Air travel for hospice patients can be challenging and even life-threatening. However, it may be the only viable option for those who want to take one last vacation or trip to be with loved ones for their final days. If your loved one is requesting to fly, here’s what you need to consider.

Air travel can be taxing. Before resorting to air travel, look into alternative options. If your loved one is hoping to visit family, perhaps the family can visit instead, or maybe there is a halfway point you could drive to by car.

If air travel is the only option, see about avoiding commercial air travel by reaching out to the numerous charitable pilot organizations such as Air Care Alliance that provides flights for patients and their families. In this way, you can ensure your loved one has a quiet airport experience and has additional medical resources while in the air.

The commercial air travel experience may be extra stressful, as airports are generally crowded and noisy. Before embarking on a commercial flight, reach out to the airline to coordinate therapy animals and wheelchair assistance if needed, as well as provide information about your loved one’s medical condition. You may also need a medical clearance form from your patient’s physician before boarding and should carry on any medications your loved one may require.

It is essential to know that despite the most careful planning, patients may die in flight. For this reason, you should ensure your loved one understands the risks associated with air travel before embarking on the trip. You should also bring an advance care directive with you that includes “Do Not Resuscitate Status” if applicable.

***Note that airlines are not required to follow state-issued directives across state lines.

While air travel for hospice patients isn’t easy, it isn’t impossible. If you have any questions or concerns about air travel with your loved one, reach out to their physician or hospice care provider for additional information.

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