Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program Helps Save Lives With $10 Million In Free Travel Donated Since Inception

Aug 8, 2013 12:30 PM ET

DALLAS, Aug. 8, 2013 /3BL Media/ — Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) today invites nonprofit hospitals and medical transportation organizations to apply for the airline’s 2014 Medical Transportation Grant Program.  The program is designed to ease the financial burden on families confronting serious medical problems that require travel for treatment.  Southwest donates roundtrip airline tickets to nonprofit hospitals and medical organizations in the program, and empowers the organization to distribute the tickets to patients as they see best based on the individuals’ needs. In 2013 alone, Southwest donated more than $2.8 million in complimentary airfare through the program. Hospitals and medical transportation charities can apply online for a grant in Southwest’s 2014 Medical Transportation Grant Program by visiting now through Monday, Sept. 30, 2013.  

"At Southwest, we connect people to what’s important in their lives. Our Medical Transportation Grant Program is no different; it helps us connect patients to the treatment they need,” said Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines’ Vice President Communication and Outreach.  “The program is one of many ways we give from the heart to positively impact our communities. From lessening the financial burden on families needing to travel for treatment to partnering with medical organizations, we are proud of the many ways this program has made a difference in the communities we serve.”

The Medical Transportation Grant Program began as a response to a need that was repeatedly expressed to the airline—families facing serious illnesses needed to travel for treatment. When the Medical Transportation Grant Program launched in 2008, Southwest donated 1,700 tickets to 13 hospitals and organizations. What started as a small effort to make a difference has grown into a nationwide movement, benefiting thousands of individuals and hundreds of communities. Southwest has donated more than $10 million in free airfare since the program began in 2008. In 2013 alone, Southwest’s Medical Transportation Gran Program served patients seeking medical treatment at more than 90 hospitals and organizations nationwide. One of the organizations accepted into Southwest’s 2013 Medical Transportation Grant Program is internationally recognized The University of Texas   MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“Southwest Airlines’ Medical Transportation Grant Program has allowed us the opportunity to offer a solution to patients who otherwise might not have been able to afford to travel for the treatment they need,” said Thomas Burke, M.D., executive vice president and physician-in-chief at MD Anderson. “Through this program, we can give hope to patients facing life-threatening illnesses, and that feeling is contagious throughout our hospital and our community.”

            More than 27,000 patients’ lives have been positively impacted through this unique program.  One such patient, Michael Wilson from Carthage, Michigan, needed to travel frequently to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis following complications with his lung transplant. Unable to afford air travel, Southwest’s Medical Transportation Grant Program connected him to life-saving treatment.

            “I knew I couldn’t afford frequent travel to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis to get the treatment I needed,” said Wilson. “I can’t begin to explain how grateful my family and I are for Southwest’s Medical Transportation Grant Program—everything is better.”

Southwest is honored to stories like Michael Wilson’s and so many others who have benefitted from the Medical Transportation Grant Program on the NUTS About Southwest blog.

Each participating hospital and nonprofit has unique guidelines for the administration of tickets. To learn about qualifications for travel assistance, please contact the specific hospital or nonprofit organization.



In its 42nd year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by nearly 46,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually.  Southwest is the nation’s largest carrier in terms of originating passengers boarded, and including wholly-owned subsidiary, AirTran Airways, operates the largest fleet of Boeing aircraft in the world to serve 97 destinations in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and six near-international countries. Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for its commitment to the triple bottom line of Performance, People and Planet.  To read about how Southwest is doing its part to be a good corporate citizen, visit to read the Southwest Airlines One Report™.

Southwest Airlines

From its first flights on June 18, 1971, Southwest Airlines launched an era of unprecedented affordability in air travel quantified by the U.S. Department of Transportation as “The Southwest Effect,” a lowering of fares and increase in passenger traffic wherever the carrier serves.  On every flight, Southwest offers Customers the first two pieces of checked luggage (weight and size limitations apply) and all ticket changes without additional fees. Southwest’s all Boeing fleet consistently offers leather seating and the comfort of full-size cabins, many of which are equipped with satellite-based WiFi connectivity and a new, sustainable cabin interior.  With 40 consecutive years of profitability, the People of Southwest operate more than 3,200 flights a day and serve communities around 78 airports in Southwest’s network of domestic destinations.  Southwest Airlines’ frequent flights and low fares are available only at

AirTran Airways

AirTran Airways, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southwest Airlines Co., offers coast-to-coast and near-international service with close to 600 flights a day to 54 destinations.  The carrier’s high-quality product includes assigned seating and Business Class. As Southwest continues to integrate AirTran’s People, places, and planes into Southwest Airlines, Customers of both carriers may book flights at and exchange earned loyalty points between both AirTran’s A+ Rewards® and Southwest’s Rapid Rewards® for reward travel on either airline.