Etihad has just launched two new services that should make flying easier for anyone with pre-existing medical conditions. The first is evaluation services, which gives ticketed passengers the opportunity to be seen by (and given the clear to fly by) an Etihad staff doctor specializing in travel medicine. The second offer is Etihad’s new in-flight nurses service: They’ll pick passengers up from their homes or hotels, whisk them through boarding, and join them on the flight.
“Etihad is delighted to be the first airline in the region to provide these new medical services which will cater for guests who require medical assistance during their travel,” said Dr. Nadia Bastaki, Etihad Airways’ Vice President Medical Services, in a statement. For now, both services are only available for passengers flying from the United Arab Emirates, at a cost starting at 1,500 U.A.E. dirhams ($408). You can request the services by going to Etihad’s website, downloading their Medical Information for Fitness to Travel or Special Assistance forms, and emailing them back to the address given.
When it comes to flying, the term “pre-existing medical conditions” encompasses pretty much any illness, injury, or chronic condition (such as epilepsy), diagnosed before a passenger’s trip. It’s common for airlines to ask passengers with pre-existing conditions to show a medical certificate before boarding—yet airlines still have the final call on allowing passengers aboard, the World Health Organization says. According to WHO, if the airline crew suspects a passenger’s condition may interfere with the flight, they can inform the captain who reserves the right to ask them to deplane. That does happen, as in the case last week when a family of five traveling from Dubai to France was forced off an Emirates flight by the flight attendants because a family member was epileptic, despite having a medical certificate declaring him fit to fly. It’s not just a question of passenger safety: When flights are diverted for medical emergencies, it can cost an airline up to $230,000, according to The Atlantic.
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