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Preparing Your Family to Fly: Practical tips to get ready for a medical flight

You likely know by now that flying in a 4 to 6 seat aircraft is different than flying commercially. So what can you do to prepare yourself, and your kids, for a private flight to medical treatment or wherever you need our volunteer pilots to take you?

There are a few simple things you can do to keep yourself and your children safe and comfortable on the flight.

Child on Small Plane

Hearing protection: Earplugs or a protective headset are necessary on a private plane to protect your hearing. Even on a commercial flight, you may want to use earplugs to reduce noise, and on a private flight they are essential. Please consult with your pilot, they will likely have extra pairs of headsets. If not, you can buy commercial earplugs at the drugstore. Keep in mind the flight headsets we wear for hearing protection and communication are different from the headphones you would use to listen to music. Regular earphones will not protect against hearing loss. If you are using earplugs for a baby or toddler, it’s a good idea to cover them with a hat or earmuffs, to keep your child from removing them during flight. Of course, please check with your doctor about recommended ear plugs for yourself and your child, and ask if there are any precautions you should take due to a medical condition.

Seatbelts and car seats: All of our Angel Flight West pilots use aircraft that have the appropriate FAA certified seatbelts for adults. If you are flying with a baby or toddler, his or her own car seat is the best option for the flight. If you can secure the car seat in a front facing seat, that may help minimize motion sickness, and will also allow them to enjoy the flight more. Speak with your volunteer pilot or Mission Coordinator if you have any questions or concerns about fitting your car seat into the plane.

Comfort: It gets chilly up in the air, and the rear seat of a private plane is usually a few degrees cooler than the front. Wear layers, and a blanket or sleeping bag is a nice way to make sure everyone can stay warm and cozy.

Air pressure: You will probably feel pressure building in your ears upon takeoff and landing. Swallow, yawn or chew gum to alleviate the pressure, or make your ears “pop”. For babies and toddlers, you can give them a bottle or pacifier to suck during takeoff and landing, which will equalize the pressure in their ears.

These simple additions to your flight checklist will make for a more comfortable and safe experience as you soar with Angel Flight West to better health. Also please keep in mind that private planes are more like traveling in car – there are no bathrooms or catering service on board. For a more complete description of what it’s like to travel on a private plane click here.

For a look at what it would be like to fly with Angel Flight West, check out this short video.

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