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Bed ridden injured passengers on commercial flights

Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:43 am

Slow weekend here so I was wondering if anyone in airline operations or any frequent flyer based on their experience can answer a few questions I've always had about transportation of seriously injured/ill (bed-ridden) people on commercial flights.

Now in my experience across multiple airlines around the world I only ever came across situations three times, all on the same airline (CX) and all of the same route (HKG-TPE). This is one reason is puzzling to me but I have to mention generally I sit toward the front of the aircraft, while as these were last minute short hops or standby flights I often sat at the back cuz those were the only seats available. This is important because in my experience such passengers were always on a gurney secured over the last few left hand rows of seats at the back perpendicular to the rows by the windows. CX usually would cordon off this area with a curtain for crew rest. But the crew rest curtain was gone and the little curtain was just around the passenger gurney over the seats. The aircraft was always large (747 or 77W).

In two of such flights the aircraft wasn't packed so the seats immediately close to this elevated gurney were kept empty. However on one instance I was actually sitting right next to this gurney thing and when i turned to the window side I would actually get a glimpse of the person who was laying on the gurney and it actually made me a little uncomfortable. On this occasion I thought at first that it must have been a case of some urgent case of organ transplant or something similar. But then I realized it didn't make sense because the passenger was alone with no medical staff or nurse or not even anyone to accompany them. Even the flight attendants did not in any way approach or intereact with the person. So I thought it was not a life threatening condition. I thought it could have been some tourist from Taiwan who broke their bones real bad in HK and wanted to come home asap.

Now based on my experience my questions are the following:
How often does this occur? How do different airlines accommodate such seriously injured/ill bed-ridden passengers? Do airlines offer this service voluntarily or are they legally forced to accept such passengers? Do they buy tickets or is the trip arranged by insurance companies/ hospitals?
Are FOs prohibited to interacting with the emergency passenger at all? Also are smaller aircraft able to accommodate such emergency passengers?
Thanks for any light you can shed.
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Re: Bed ridden injured passengers on commercial flights

Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:53 am

In the USA these PAC usually go on a medivac flight on a leer jet or king air.
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Re: Bed ridden injured passengers on commercial flights

Sun Sep 10, 2017 4:13 am

I remember reading a thread about this exact thing several months ago on this forum. Maybe someone better versed in the search function can find it. Any of the information I'm trying to remember would not be useful.
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Re: Bed ridden injured passengers on commercial flights

Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:05 am

It happens quite a lot, International it is particularly common as a result of someone getting injured whilst abroad (like being involved in a car accident or some having an accident skiing and braking their neck/back etc) and it is the travel insurance covering the cost of the medical flight home. Crew can interact with them though it really depends on the passengers condition of what (if any) interaction they can do or service to provide. Most cases a medical professional will travel with the passenger (and the airlines will require them to travel), though depending on the specific situation of course and passengers needs during flight.
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Re: Bed ridden injured passengers on commercial flights

Sun Sep 10, 2017 1:53 pm

those beds/systems can easily and quickly be installed during 1-2 hrs ground time of commercial aircraft. I saw them quite often on LH on their 321 (last 4 or 5 rows lefthand side blocked and curtained off). Usually, during summer the amount of transports are much higher, because vacationers have to "end their holidays earlier than expected". It's surely not life threathing means of transportation, but requires the patient to lay down the entire flight. I once talked to a doctor who accompanies such patients. He said, he became a Gold status frequent flyer very quickly with 4-5 trips per months. :)
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Re: Bed ridden injured passengers on commercial flights

Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:43 pm

I was flown from Malaysia to New Zealand, as I had a neck problem and was unable to walk. In business class escorted by a nurse. Flight attendants were asked to help hold my neck still if we experienced any turbulence, which we didn't. Both nurse's and my fare was paid for by travel insurance. It was the usual flight. The irony was the nurse told me this situation usually ends up with the single nurse marrying the accident prone passenger! We were both married to our different partners at the time.
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Re: Bed ridden injured passengers on commercial flights

Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:57 pm

you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!
Growing older, but not up.
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Re: Bed ridden injured passengers on commercial flights

Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:17 pm

Delta had the ability on the 727-200 using the "short" side of 1st class. Similar set up to the video link above.
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Re: Bed ridden injured passengers on commercial flights

Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:39 am

Hawaiian 767s from Samoa and Tahiti from time to time. Not sure if they still do it.
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Re: Bed ridden injured passengers on commercial flights

Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:20 pm

I remember two flights, both 737-200. Some rows at the back would be blocked, the stretcher was quickly fitted and curtained off. Both passengers were going for urgent treatment somewhere else and didn't need anything from us as they were accompanied by doctors/nurses.
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