Wings for Life
For cancer survivors, distant travel is sometimes necessary to reach a cancer center or hospital for treatment or a second opinion that is not available in their local communities. Flying can be expensive, but various air transport organizations provide free or reduced-cost flights to assist people who need help getting to and from treatment locations. The following is a partial listing of organizations that provide or coordinate flights for cancer survivors and their families.
Air Care Alliance is a nationwide league of humanitarian flying organizations whose volunteer pilots are dedicated to community service. It provides a central listing of free national and regional air transportation services provided by volunteer pilots and charitable aviation groups who perform public benefit flying for healthcare, patient transport, and other missions of public service. Visit AirCareAll.org to find an organization near you. If you need further assistance call (888) 260-9707.
Air Charity Network is a national network of regional charitable aviation organizations that provides access for people in need seeking free air transportation to specialized healthcare facilities. To locate the Air Charity Network organization that serves your area, call (877) 621-7177 and you will automatically be directed to the nearest available resource. For more information, visit AirCharityNetwork.org.
Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition is a coalition of organizations helping cancer survivors manage their financial challenges. Its website includes a section on transportation assistance listed by cancer type or by regional organizations according to zip code. Visit CancerFAC.org for links.
Corporate Angel Network arranges free travel using the empty seats on corporate jets for people with cancer, bone marrow donors and recipients, and stem cell donors and recipients to or from an approved cancer treatment center. You must be able to walk up and down the steps of a private plane without assistance and should not need oxygen, IV, or any other form of life support during the flight. You may bring an adult companion; children can travel with two adults. Call (866) 328-1313 to register within three weeks of a specific appointment. For more information, visit CorpAngelNetwork.org.
Miracle Flights for Kids flies children who are struggling with serious cancers and debilitating diseases to specialized medical treatment centers across the U.S. Any child needing medical treatment or seeking out a second opinion not available in his or her own hometown is eligible for a miracle mission. Miracle missions are coordinated by purchasing commercial airline tickets for sick kids and their parents. Miracle Flights for Kids also provides flights for adults in need of medical air transportation. For more information, visit MiracleFlights.org or call (800) FLY-1711.
National Patient Travel Center provides information on all forms of charitable, long-distance medical air transportation and provides referrals to all appropriate sources of help in the national charitable medical air transportation network. For more information, visit PatientTravel.org. To request assistance, call the National Patient Travel Helpline at (800) 296-1217.
Operation Liftoff provides air transportation for children with life-threatening illnesses to specialized care and treatment centers, as well as alternative service information to families in need if a child does not qualify for treatment trip services. For more information, visit OperationLiftoff.org or call (314) 298-9770.
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Contact each organization to obtain specific eligibility requirements. In addition, check with your local cancer treatment center, hospital, American Cancer Society office, or other cancer support organization, as well as commercial airlines, for information about obtaining transportation assistance for cancer survivors and their families. This listing was compiled by Coping’s editors and may not include all air transportation providers or coordinators.
This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, September/October 2012.