Why the subject of charter flights made me wake up with a headache

One of the pressing items I came home from Omaha with was charter flights. We had a plan heading to Seattle and it took some effort, but seemed good.

Omaha is a little different though. They are a smaller airport and so there aren’t bunches of commercial flights available during the day. There are only 2 nonstop flights that have even the remote possibility of arriving in time. And that is a long-shot, especially in the winter. And that’s assuming that there are seats open on the plane. Flying commercially can not work.

So chartering a flight is no longer a luxury, but seems the way we need to go.

But here’s the mathmatical problem that I have.

Omaha wants us there in 4-6 hours. (Instead of 6-8 offered by Seattle.)

It takes 2 hours for a typical charter company to call in a pilot, prep a plane, and make a flight plan. It takes 2 and a half hours to fly to Omaha in good weather in a jet.

Most charter companies only have a few jets on hand. Those jets must be in town at the time we need our flight.

When I called what was our preferred charter company to reprice the flight, they had no jets available at the time.

Furthermore, there must be a pilot available for the jet. If a pilot has clocked off shift, he is required to wait 10 hours before flying again. So if he flew during the day, clocked out, and went home.. he is not allowed to fly again till morning. So say he clocked out at 6 p.m. and the call comes at midnight, he can’t fly. Even if his plane is in town.

The cost for a charter flight to Omaha is in the neighborhood of $15,000-$20,000. We have to have this money available in advance.

Air ambulance companies have more pilots, eliminating the pilot wait period problem. They are also better at getting out quicker. They sometimes can assemble plane, crew, and flight plan in half an hour. They don’t have as many jets, but might be able to take a smaller plane because they can leave quicker.

They also require that you travel to and from them by ambulance. And that you fly with a full nursing staff. You pay for the medical staff. And the ambulances.

Life Flight in Utah quoted me $50,000. We would also need that upfront.

The other air ambulance company refused to give me a quote as they couldn’t promise that they’d have team and plane in place at anytime. They just gave me a whole long shpiel about how difficult what I was trying to coordinate was.

Yesterday, Angel Flight helped me find two pilots willing to help me work out logistics. They have been very kind so far. They are getting me quotes. This is probably the closest I’ll come to a charity flight.. But it won’t be free because fuel prices are just too high for that. I don’t even really expect them to be much discounted.

I need to get multiple phone numbers in my speed dial because no one can guarantee they’ll be available on a moment’s notice. So one company or pilot alone isn’t enough of a plan.

So now I need to take all of this information back to our insurance company. They have previously stated that they will reimburse the cost of a commercial flight, regardless of how we fly. But just for Patrick and me. I looked that up.  A last minute flight is $400/person. $800.

They have also stated that they’d pay for an air ambulance if Patrick weren’t medically stable to fly another way.

I’m hoping there’s a middle ground here where they’ll pay for a charter.

Especially as the transplant hospital has pointed out that even if use the money we’ve fundraised to pay for the flight (that would take most of what we have), that there is still a chance we’d get out there and there would be something wrong with the organ and the transplant could be cancelled. And then.. we’d have no more money for a flight.

But even if insurance covers this, I’ve gotta make sure my credit cards are gonna cover the flight while I wait for reimbursement.. Because payment is required up front.

This is what made me grind my teeth all night and wake up with a headache.

That and the fact that this hospital is recommending a very different plan than Seattle. So the choice between the two programs is even more glaring and a choice is more definitely necessary.

And soon.

I just keep working away at the many different aspects of this problem. But there is so much out of my control that I don’t ever feel like anything can be resolved until we get to the moment of transplant. I just keep waiting and praying to reach the point where I have that feeling of peace that says this will all work out, even if I can’t see how.

But I’m thinking that this morning, since that peace isn’t here yet, maybe I’ll just have to settle for some ibuprofen and some chocolate. Then take Patrick to school. And get on the phone again to see what more I can hammer out today.

But I needed to talk to someone about the problem. Get it all out of my head on paper. So thanks for listening.

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