Before our cancer “experience”, I had absolutely no idea there existed organizations that fly cancer patients to and from long distance treatments FREE of charge. Fortunately, we learned about the Corporate Angel Network when we needed this service most…. they flew us from Houston, TX to Washington, DC (courtesy of Verizon Wireless’ corporate jet- THANK YOU Verizon!) after Alan had brain surgery at MD Anderson.
Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)… To get the best care possible, sometimes cancer patients need to travel to treatment facilities that are far away from their homes. Traveling long distance for cancer treatments can be both exhausting and cost-prohibitive, potentially eliminating available treatments options for some patients. To help alleviate this burden, there are organizations who offer FREE air travel services for cancer patients, many on private jets.
Most groups who offer this free travel assistance require that the patient be ambulatory (able to walk and get into/out of the plane with little or no assistance) and be medically stable as the pilots are not able to provide any medical assistance. While some groups require proof of financial need, others do not. Typically, patients are allowed to be accompanied by one family member or support person.
The National Patient Travel Center (NPTC) may be the best place to start when searching for free flights. They will connect cancer patients to available flight resources. There is no charge for this referral service. Of course, you can also choose to call each organization directly if you like.
Some of the organizations that fly cancer patients FREE of charge are listed below:
Angel Flight at NIH- Flies cancer patients involved in research studies and clinical trials to cancer centers throughout the US (not just to/from NIH).
Air Compassion for Veterans- Flies wounded warriors & veterans seeking treatment.
Children’s Flight of Hope- Serves pediatric cancer patients only.
Corporate Angel Network- Proof of financial need is not required. Has access to both private jets and unused seats on corporate jets. They are AMAZING!!!
FOOTPRINTS in the Sky- In most cases you are allowed to bring up to 3 family members. If no immediate family is available, you may bring one non-family member for assistance.
Hope Flight Foundation- Serves pediatric patients living in California, Nevada, and Oregon.
Houston Ground Angels- Provides both air and ground transportation to patients who fly into or out of Houston, Texas.
Lifeline Pilots- Works with cancer patients of any age. Also transports children with life-threatening illnesses to special camps, fulfilling patient’s last wishes to visit home or family and transporting immediate family members to provide support for someone in a distant hospital for recovery.
Mercy Medical Airlift- Coordinates free commercial airline tickets (using donated frequent flyer mileage on US Air, Delta & United Airlines) AND negotiates discounted air ambulance service for individuals and families who are in need of this special service. (***there are no FREE air ambulance services anywhere)
Miracle Flights for Kids- Serves pediatric cancer patients only.
Patient Airlift Service (PALS)- Covers flights in the entire northeast United States as far west as Ohio and as far south as Virginia.
Raquel’s Wings for Life- In addition to free flights, Raquel’s Wings for Life also offers complimentary ground transportation to & from the airport if needed.
To find a more complete listing of organizations that provide free air transportation to cancer patients, check out Air Care Alliance. (Please note: The Air Care Alliance lists pet transport, medical transport & humanitarian aid services as well).