I used to work for a medical assistance company that coordinated both commercial and private aircraft medical flights. Commercial transport was feasible if there was plenty of time to coordinate the trip; usually it was for repatriating patients back home after an injury or with those with a serious medical condition. At the time (10 years ago) the only US carriers that allowed stretchers were TWA and NW
, and only on their international flights. We did a lot of work with Swissair, BA
as they were much more accommodating. Medical clearance from most airlines takes several days to obtain, and the cost is very high: typically payment for 6 economy seats for the stretcher plus a seat for each medical escort at full fare is required, plus the stretcher kit, oxygen, etc. And very often the person would require additional transport from the international gateway to their home city by private air ambulance. And, you need to add in the cost of the medical team who are paid hourly from the time they depart home to rendez-vous with the patient, and escort the patient to their destination and then fly back home again.
Use of a private air ambulance for long-haul transport wasn't done as often due to the cost and logistics. However for shorter trips it was more cost effective, and often the only option. We coordinated almost daily flights from Florida to Canada during the snowbird season...Canadian travel insurers preferred to pay $10,000 for an air ambulance back north to free Canadian healthcare instead of paying the $5,000+ per day charges common in US hospitals.