PHOTO: A Southwest Airlines plane in flight (Photo via Flickr/InSapphoWeTrust)
The cost of taking a medical emergency flight can be substantial – in the tens of thousands of dollars depending on length.
But Southwest Airlines is trying to do something about that.
The airline has announced it will donate 10,000 roundtrip flights in 2017 to benefit families who need to travel for specialized medical care. The travel is donated in an effort to reduce the financial burden of serious illness on individuals and families and coincides with the 10th anniversary of Southwest’s Medical Transportation Grant Program (MTGP). Some 75 nonprofit hospitals and medical organizations across the country will benefit from the program.
"Southwest Airlines is known for loving people. We are a company with heart and we are honored to have been able to connect people with the medical treatment they need for the last 10 years," Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, said in a statement.
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According to U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), an average roundtrip domestic flight is $349 – meaning Southwest is donating nearly $3.5 million in free flights.
In fact, since the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program's inception in 2007, more than 59,000 complimentary roundtrips—valued at more than $23 million—have been distributed to organizations in 28 states.
This year, Southwest is partnering with Musicians On Call (MOC), a nonprofit organization that brings live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities across the country. As part of the 10th anniversary of the program, MOC will perform special concert performances for Southwest Customers to enjoy at Los Angeles (LAX), Nashville (BNA), and Atlanta (ATL) airports.
"This new partnership with Musicians On Call is a beautiful way to bring music to patients and put a smile on their faces,” Rutherford said.
"Musicians On Call is honored to partner with Southwest Airlines as we work together to provide the healing power of music to hospital patients and unique music experiences to customers in cities across the country," said Pete Griffin, Musicians On Call President. "Like Southwest, Musicians On Call strives to support children, adults, Veterans, and families in healthcare facilities and working together we will have a deeper impact on this shared value."