Buddy On Board: NZ Travel Trade

A small band of registered nurses are making it possible for disabled, elderly, sick and young people to travel where they may never have travelled before.

Air Travel Companion is staffed by registered nurses who escort clients on a flight, providing door-to-door delivery, wheelchairs, assistance, onboard entertainment, constant monitoring and any other services required onboard, including administering medication. They will also handle luggage, passports, tickets and transfers on the ground.

The service is no replacement for travel insurance and insists on it for any flight. She will also check out the medical records of elderly or sick passengers to ensure she can handle their needs before flying – this could involve talking with the client’s doctor.

The company attracts a lot of business from expats who cannot afford time off to take their children home to visit relatives. There is also demand from parents with four or five children who find it a struggle to manage on a flight.

The service is also opening up the world to disabled people who may require both medical and physical assistance as well as help with equipment through airports. Air Travel Companion recently escorted a man with multiple sclerosis who needed assistance with writing, eating and transporting his wheelchair.

- 27 July 2007, Rebecca Williams, TravelTrade