MedRetreat – Medical Tourism

April 29, 2009

Flying Home After Surgery Abroad – Important Considerations

Your return flight home following a surgical procedure may be very uncomfortable, especially on the longer trans-pacific flights.

You should talk about the potential discomfort on your flight home with your surgeon before your departure. He/she will address your concerns by providing you with advice and possibly prescribing medication to help manage your pain appropriately.

Depending on the type of procedure you have abroad, you should consider the following:

Wheelchair Assistance

Wheelchair assistance at the airport can be arranged for your return flight home. If you feel that you will require wheelchair assistance, you should let the airlines know within 48 hours of your scheduled departure time.

All international fights require a doctor’s note in order to receive wheelchair assistance. Therefore, you must inform your doctor that you will need a note before your last follow-up visit. Once you receive this note, you must contact your international airline 48 hours prior to your departure to request wheelchair assistance. Be sure to let them know that you have a doctor’s note. Also, once you check into the airport for your departure flight home, make sure the airline has arranged for wheelchair access at each of your layover airports.

It is important to understand that wheelchair assistance cannot be completely guaranteed. The airlines will certainly do everything they can to accommodate your request, but they simply cannot determine the supply and demand for every individual flight. Therefore, it is very important to communicate your desire for wheelchair assistance as early in the process as you can.

Bulkhead Seating

Bulkhead seats are the row of seats on an airplane that separate the different sections, such as first class from business class and business class from economy class. In most case there is a wall placed between these different sections. As a result, bulkhead seats have more leg room than other rows in standard economy class and are much more comfortable. However, in most cases, bulkhead seats may only be obtained at the time of check-in.

If obtaining bulkhead seats is very important to you, you will need to check with your airline 24 hours prior to departure to see what time they will be opening the check-in counter for your particular flight. If you are able to arrive early enough, you stand a better chance of obtaining a bulkhead seat. Please note that there is no way to guarantee a bulkhead seating, as these seats are assigned at the discretion of the airline.

For detailed information about seating on airplanes you can visit Seat Guru, a great source of airplane seating, in-flight amenities and airline information at the following link:

http://www.seatguru.com/

Fare Pricing – High/Low Season  and Holidays

A successful and stress-free medical tourism experience requires significant planning and execution, and your flight arrangements are no exception. In order to receive the best value in terms of rates, routes, and availability you should begin booking your flights at least 1 month prior to your target departure date. You will also have to consider the season and holiday schedule your particular destination. For example, you might think that the end of January is the low season for your medical retreat in Southeast Asia, and as such believe that you will find the best rates and routes for your flight. However, you will be surprised to learn that Chinese New Year is celebrated at this time of year and there are no flights available. Make sure you research the dates and discuss them with your travel agent.

How Far Can You Travel After Surgery

Rest assured that people have been traveling great distances following medical procedures since the inception of the airline industry. The two key factors one must consider when traveling by air for healthcare is the recuperation time following their procedure and the comfort level for flying.

When making arrangements for your medical retreat, you want to insure that you allow plenty enough time following your procedure to fly home safely and comfortably. This time frame will certainly depend upon that type of procedure performed. The surgeon should ultimately assist you in this planning phase.

Working With A Travel Agent

When arranging your medical retreat, you should always try to work with a travel agent and not book your flights over the Internet. A travel agent my cost you a bit more in the end, but when it comes to medical treatment it is imperative that you have flexibility with your itinerary in order to accommodate potential changes, as well as an actual person to contact for assistance.

Prescription Medication During Flight

Following your procedure, your doctor will most likely provide you with medication, usually in the form of antibiotics and painkillers. Be sure to ask your doctor for instructions about taking such medication during extended flights. It will be important for you to move about and perform certain exercises during your flight, so you will not want your medication to interfere with this.

Required Travel Documents

For international flights, you must carry and maintain your boarding pass, passport, and entry visa if required. You will want to make sure that you store these items in a save and secure place during your flight. Also, be sure to make a copy of your passport/visa and keep them in a separate place from your originals in case the originals are lost. These copies will help to acquire your new passport/visa with the American Consulate abroad if the need arises.

Airport Taxes

Many international airports assess an airport tax, which must be paid in cash in their currency prior to your departure. The average tax amount generally equates between $15 and $20. Make sure you know the amount for this tax before you arrive at the airport so as to avoid any problems or delays.

Reservations – Booking Enough Time For Delays and Missed Flights

It is highly advisable to always build in at least 3 hours for layovers and connections for your international flights in order to avoid any potential weather delays or mechanical problems. A missed flight could potentially jeopardize your entire medical retreat, as your procedure time will have already been locked-in.

Flight Changes – Understanding Rules, Restrictions and Penalties

As previously mentioned, a flexible itinerary for you medical retreat is highly recommended, which is why you should always work with a travel agent to arrange your flights. However, all airlines have different rules, regulations, and penalties for making changes to your flight. These rules include everything from booking on a weekday versus a weekend, to number of layovers during your flight. These penalties can range from $25 to well over $100 for each passenger. So make sure that you discuss the change policy with your travel agent and understand the implications.

Missing Your Flight

Should you for some reason miss your flight, you should contact the hospital or your facilitation agency as soon as possible to see if you’d be able to rearrange your scheduled medical appointment. There may be some instances where you will not be able to proceed on to you medical travel destination due to the doctor’s schedule. This is why it is so important that you always build in enough time for unforeseen weather or mechanical problems.

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