Getting you home: how do airport transfers work?

Anyone who has ever taken an international flight knows it can be a complicated process. Identity documents. Tickets. Check-in and Arrivals desks. Not to mention baggage checks, boarding calls, and navigating your way through an unfamiliar airport… But if you’re trying to get a loved one home (or abroad) for medical treatment – whether by private air ambulance or medical escort– the whole thing can seem even more complex and confusing. So how exactly does it work? Here’s a quick guide.

Getting you home

Collecting you for the journey

As soon as you accept a quote for a medical repatriation from EMS Air Ambulance & Medical Repatriation, our team starts working on your transport plan. While the medical crew mobilises, we’ll prepare all the documents you need for the journey. We may ask you to send scans or photos of your passport and ID documents; if you need a visa, we’ll run through the details and prepare it for you in advance. This way, whether you intend to fly by private jet or on a commercial flight with an escort, everything will be ready for the airport authorities ahead of time. Depending on the patient’s condition, the medical crew can collect either by road ambulance, taxi or limousine. If we’re collecting you from a hospital, they will do a full medical handover with the hospital doctors.

Checking you onto the flight

Once we arrive at the airport, we’ll transfer you or your patient swiftly and safely onto the aircraft. This happens in a couple of different ways:

To the doors of the plane: If a patient is travelling in isolation (for example, because they have contracted COVID), if they’re being repatriated on a private aircraft, or if they’re being transported on a stretcher on a regular commercial flight, the road ambulance will take them right up to the plane. We call this “going tarmac”: it means our medical team have permission from the airport authorities to board our patient directly onto the aircraft. The officials will also check-in your luggage before it goes on board (each passenger can take up to 20kg on a private air ambulance).

Through the airport: If the patient is travelling with a medical escort on a commercial flight, we will accompany them through Departures in the normal way, though usually with wheelchair assistance. We’ll help you check-in with your tickets and luggage, then take you through to the relevant waiting area. Normal practice is to fly business class where available, so it’s often possible to wait in the business lounge before boarding. When your flight is called, the doctor or paramedics will make sure you get safely aboard.

Getting you back home

As soon as we touch down in your destination country, the medical crew will get you started on the next phase of your journey. It’s a similar process to check-in, but in reverse. If you’re travelling by air ambulance, the road ambulance will collect you on the tarmac and take you straight off to hospital. If you’re on a regular flight, the team will see you safely across the airport and through Arrivals. Mostly that means transferring to a road ambulance or taxi directly outside the terminal, though families sometimes like to welcome and collect their loved one themselves. If you’re heading to a hospital or clinic for treatment or medical care, our doctor or paramedics will take you all the way to your hospital bed. They’ll do a full handover with the new medical team – and this includes a medical report covering the flight and journey you’ve just made with us. The EMS team won’t leave until they’re happy that everything is in order and you’re safely installed in the new accommodation.

Contact us

Are you looking into options for medical transport to another country? Drop us a line today and we’ll explain how we can help you get there quickly, safely and securely. Call us, email us, or message us direct on WhatsApp.

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