Coming soon: Airborne telemedicine


As airlines upgrade their in-flight Wi-Fi systems, they often tout the passenger experience benefits, like faster internet browsing or better entertainment options.

About 11 of every 100,000 flights are diverted because of in-flight medical emergencies, per one 2021 study, costing airlines anywhere from $15,000-$893,000 per incident.

While flight crews have first-aid training and aircraft carry some basic medical equipment and medications, easier access to fully-trained experts could save lives — and maybe reduce the need for diversions that are both expensive for airlines and a headache for travelers.

Delta Air Lines and others have partnered with MedAire, which provides on-demand medical advice to flight crews, among other services. Delta flight attendants can connect with MedAire's medical experts via voice or text directly on their company-issued mobile device, using on-board Wi-Fi.