What to Expect
What to expect when you fly with Mercy Flight Southeast
Before you request an Mercy Flight Southeast mission, please make sure that the person who will be flying is able to handle the following flight-related responsibilities, activities and conditions.
Your pilot arranges the flight schedule
After you have been approved for a flight and Mercy Flight Southeast 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 on will be made between the pilot and you.
You need to have a 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 either to have a back-up plan, or to 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. Generally, the rule is if a commercial flight takes one hour, our airplanes take 3 hours to fly the same route.
A small plane is far more limited in the amount of weight it can carry than a large commercial jet. Weight is restricted to a maximum total of 500 lbs. including 50 lbs of luggage (split into two soft bags). Luggage must be soft-sided and no larger than what would be allowed on a commercial airplane as a carry-on. These limitations will be strictly enforced. Oxygen, crutches, car seats, strollers and other such items can be accommodated if you let us know upon requesting your flight. In addition, please be prepared to tell the pilot your weight, 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 the flight
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, or even throughout the entire flight. Your pilot will inform you of his or her specific requirements.
Turbulence during the flight
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.
Temperature during the flight
Some, but not all, 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.
No restrooms or food
Restrooms and food service are not available on our flights. Please check with your pilot if you want to bring food aboard.
If you’re 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.
No ground transportation
Mercy Flight Southeast usually is unable to provide ground transportation, so you will need to make those arrangements prior to your departure.
Take a look at the video below to get an overview of what it is like to fly in one of Mercy Flight’s aircraft.
An additional, longer video