Guidelines for Patients

In order to use Compassion Flights the patient must meet these requirements:

  • Be ambulatory and able to travel in a small, non-pressurized aircraft, without access to lavatory facilities, for the duration of the flight.
  • Have a personally signed letter from the physician stating ability to fly.
  • Alternate air transportation is not affordable or feasible.
  • Qualified personnel must accompany a patient requiring attention or assistance.
  • Typically, patients are allowed to be accompanied by just one family member or support person.
  • Have ground transportation to and from the airport.
  • Sign a waiver form releasing Compassion Flights, Inc. and volunteer pilots from liability.
  • Compassion Flights aircraft are not equipped for medical emergencies and Compassion Flight volunteers are not able to provide any medical service before, during, or after the flight.
  • All equipment and medical staff required must be provided with doctor’s approval. Patients may carry their own oxygen.
  • Be aware that baggage in excess of 40 pounds total may not be accommodated.
  • Under most circumstances, in order to find an available pilot, the flight must be scheduled at least seven days in advance.
  • Flights may be cancelled due to weather.
  • Patient should have back-up transportation.
  • Pilot is the final authority as to the conduct of each flights.

Requesting a Flight with Compassion Flights

Patients, hospital social service workers, or friends who desire to arrange transportation for a patient should follow these steps:

Step 1

Verify that the patient’s home or treating facility is located in Iowa or surrounding states. If you are seeking a flight outside our service region, please check our locator page to locate a Public Benefit Flying Organization in your area.

Step 2

Review the Patient Guidelines above to verify qualification.

Step 3

Please complete the ONLINE FLIGHT REQUEST

The Compassion Flights Board of Directors will review your request and follow up with you to complete any additional requirements. Thank you for your interest in Compassion Flights.

What to Expect When Flying with Compassion Flights

Before you request a Compassion Flights mission, please make sure that the person who will be flying is able to handle the following flight-related responsibilities, activities, and conditions:

  • Able to fly in a non-pressurized small aircraft
  • Ambulatory
  • Responsible for their own medications
  • No communicable diseases
  • Provide Department of Transportation approved supplemental oxygen and medical assistance (if required)
  • Provide own transportation to and from airport if ground transportation (Earth Angels) is unavailable. We will help with this as much as possible.
  • Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian
  • Allow up to 7-10 working days for Compassion Flights to coordinate all aspects of the flight
  • Luggage is limited to a total of 40 pounds (depending on number of passengers)

Your Pilot Arranges the Flights Schedule

After you have been approved for a flight and Compassion Flights has received the completed paperwork, we will start looking for a pilot to volunteer for your mission. Once a pilot has accepted the assignment, he or she will contact you directly, and all travel arrangements from that point will be made between the pilot and you.

Back-up Plan

Pilots make the final decisions about the execution of their missions. A pilot may delay or cancel a mission because of bad weather or other critical factors. We ask our passengers to either have a back-up plan or be able to re-schedule their appointments.

Smaller Plane, Longer Travel Time

Your flight will be made in a small, private aircraft that probably has from four to six seats. These aircraft are not as fast or as large as a commercial airplane, so the flying time to your destination may be a bit longer than you anticipated. Although flight times are longer than commercial, it is almost always faster than driving.

Weight Limitations

A small plane is far more limited in the amount of weight it can carry than a large commercial jet. Because of this, you need to limit your luggage to a maximum of 40 lbs. Luggage must be soft-sided and no larger than what would be allowed on a commercial airplane as a carry-on. Oxygen, crutches, car seats, strollers, and other such items can be accommodated if you let us know before the day of departure. In addition, please be prepared to tell the pilot your weight (now is not the time to fib), as well as the weights of anyone else who is flying with you.

Entering the Airplane

In order to board the aircraft, you may have to step up onto a wing that is 16 to 20 inches above the ground, crouch slightly to fit through a small door, then lower yourself into the back seat. If you or one of your traveling companions cannot perform these movements, that person will not be able to fly with us.

Noise during Flights

If you’ve never flown on a small aircraft before, you’ll discover that it’s a much different experience than flying on a large commercial jet. The engine noise on small planes can be loud enough to prevent you from having a normal conversation. Some pilots will provide you with headphones to wear during the flight, which will enable you to communicate with the pilot and other passengers, as well as serving to block out most of the noise. If you wish, you can also bring your own ear plugs. On some planes, you might hear different sounds from the engine as it changes speed. Be aware that, for safety reasons, some pilots request that you do not talk during take-off and landing. Your pilot will inform you of his or her specific requirements.

Turbulence during Flights

Small planes are more susceptible to air turbulence that large ones, so you might experience more “bumps” than you’re used to. These motions are perfectly normal and no cause for alarm. This turbulence is usually greater during mid-day and around weather. During the flight, please advise the pilot of any nausea at the first sign.

Temperature during Flights

Some, but not all, Compassion Flights planes have heated cockpits, and most do not have air conditioning. Consequently, it can be chilly inside the plane because of the altitude, even if it isn’t cold on the ground. And on a hot, sunny summer day, the temperature onboard can be quite warm. To ensure that you’re comfortable during the flight, please ask your pilot about the best type of clothing to wear.

Restrooms and Food

Restrooms and food service are not available on Compassion Flights. Food and drink is allowed, but please check with your pilot if you want to bring food or drink aboard, as the pilot has the final say.

Traveling with a Child

If you are traveling with a baby or small child, we suggest that you give them a bottle, pacifier, or, for a slightly older child, gum to chew during take-off and landing. These items will help the child to equalize the changing air pressure and avoid ear pain.

Ground Transportation

Compassion Flights is usually able to provide ground transportation. You will need to confirm those arrangements prior to your departure. Although the final responsibility to get ground transportation is up to you, we will do everything possible to help.