What Medical Equipment is Available on KLM Flights?

What happens if you sprain your ankle flying over the Sahara? Or if you come down with a stomach-flu while crossing the Atlantic? Of course our cabin crew can tend to minor injuries with bandages and aspirin, as you would expect, but did you know that all KLM cabin crew complete first-aid training? There is a lot more medical equipment aboard our aircraft than you might think. Here’s an overview.

1. Little blue bags: solving discomforts

Take-off and landing are events that can cause physical stress to the body due to rapid acceleration and deceleration. During a flight, conditions on board are different from those on the ground. The differences in air pressure and humidity, for example, can lead to minor but annoying inconveniences. Head, ear and stomach aches and dry skin and eyes are common complaints caused by these changes.

Medical equipment KLM

Over-the counter-medication

Frequent flyers who already know what to expect during long-haul flights will take precautions and bring nose sprays or painkillers to deal with this. These ailments may, however, come as a nasty surprise to children, elderly people and less experienced travellers. KLM cabin attendants have been trained to recognise these common ailments on board and are equipped with little blue first-aid bags (nicknamed ‘stessentasjes’) containing a selection of useful over-the-counter medication.

2. First-aid kit: to treat minor injuries and relieve pain

Things can get pretty lively aboard a plane. Sometimes it feels as if you’re finding your way in a busy marketplace. People are walking about, opening overhead bins and swinging luggage around above other people’s heads. Groggy passengers wait in line for the toilet, still half asleep and swaying dangerously from side to side. In this environment, accidents do happen.


When turbulence is expected, cabin crew will stop the service, take the trolleys to the galleys and secure them. In exceptional cases, an unpredicted bout of heavy turbulence can cause trolleys to fall over or hot drinks to be spilled, injuring passengers or cabin attendants. In this and other situations where bandage or gauze is needed, the cabin crew have access to the first-aid kit that is available aboard every KLM flight. This kit can be used to treat minor injuries and relieve pain resulting from minor accidents.

3. Medical kit: for emergency situations

The excitement of flying home to see your sister’s new-born baby, the fatigue caused by two days of travelling, the stress caused by a snoring travelling companion – all of these might conspire with the physical and environmental factors described above, pushing some people over the edge.

Medical equipment KLM


One of the most common medical incidents on board is dizziness or fainting. In most cases, it is caused by a cocktail of various factors: too much to eat, too little to drink, standing up too quickly. If this happens, sitting down and having something to drink will generally help people feel better quickly.

medical epuipment KLM

Sometimes, fainting can be caused by a pre-existing medical condition, like diabetes, or a person may have a seizure on board. There may also be other reasons to suspect that a passenger is more seriously ill. For such instances, there is a medical kit on board. This kit contains things like a blood pressure gauge, a thermometer and a stethoscope. The medical kit is designed to be used by the purser and any medical doctor who may be on board. It also contains prescription drugs, which may only be administered by the doctor on board or if approved by a medical doctor on the ground. With the aid of the medical kit, emergency situations can be assessed and primary treatment of certain conditions can be initiated.

4. Oxygen and AED

Besides the medical kits, there is also a supply of emergency oxygen on board and an automated external defibrillator (AED) is present on all planes to provide care in the unlikely event of a heart attack.

According to a large-scale study, analysing more than 7 million flights, medical incidents occur approximately once in every 600 flights. This translates to a chance of 16 in 1 million for you as an individual passenger.

Medical equipment KLM


Should you happen to be the passenger in need of medical care, I hope this post has reassured you that KLM is well prepared to provide first aid on board, either by cabin crew or by a doctor on board. And if there is no doctor on board, there is always a KLM doctor on call.

Posted by:   Noud Schel  | 
Join the conversation Show comments


As a doctor recently called to aid whilst in the air (other airline and fortunately unnecessary), I wondered what the (KLM) first aid kit contains. Peterson et al, NEJM, 2013, give a general survey. Is this still up to date? Regards

Noud Schel

Hello Daan,

Yes, the general survey of contents given in the article by Peterson seems to be an up to date list. Without going into details too much, you can consider the KLM Medical Kit an enhanced medical kit, according to the criteria mentioned in the article.


hi – why does KLM not carry EpiPens on board as part of its medical kit? Many other airlines do. It can save someones life!

Noud Schel

Hello Joris,

The EpiPen is designed to be carried and used by individual patients. They have been instructed how to use it and carry the pen with the right dosage. In case of an anaphylactic shock on board, a doctor can administer the correct and precise dose of adrenaline (epinefrine) from the medical kit.

Marcel van Philips, MD

Hello colleague, I am a Dutch GP and recently acquired AME doctor. So my interests in aviation medicine is huge. I agree with the previous doctor whom questions about Epipen not being readily available in the medical kit. I would advice KLM to renew its policy on this. Since severe allergic, life threatening reactions, are among the TOP 10 of in flight medical emergencies, I would recommend Epipens tot be available for adults and children. There is no time to lose on pulling up adrenaline from a vial into a syringe. It can delay the administration of a potent drug to counteract anaphylactic reactions.

I understand that people with known allergic reactions are supposed to have Epipen with them when traveling, but people are people and they can forget to bring it or make the mistake to store in the large suitcase stowed away under the cabin. So, different reasons why these people can be unfortunate to have Epipen on them.

So, that’s my humble opinion about the matter.

Au Kah Kay

Are Ventolin inhalers available on board?

Noud Schel

No, Ventolin inhalers are not on board. Included in the medical kit is salbutamol (cyclocaps) with cyclohaler.

Arneil T Chua

Does your company allow the use of CPAP machines during flights to Europe and back to Manila?

Noud Schel

CPAP and POC are allowed on board as long as they are EASA/FAA approved. Please contact KLM Cares for detailed information.

Mark Maynard

I am traveling with a CPAC machine from Amsterdam to Uganda in mid-May. What do I need to do to get approval.

Johan Bakker

Vivo50 click-on dry battery is not permitted on KLM-flights. Seized at the airport ! Because of >160 kwh. Instead of EASA/FAA.
I am going to start a legal procedure with support.

Twitter: @xlpiano

Dieter Bertram

I am taking a pain medication through a ‘pik’ line. I have to carry 2-3 extra bags which must be refrigerated. Would this pose a problem for staff?

Noud Schel

Hello Dieter,

Unfortunately, you can not rely on there being enough space available in the refrigerators on board to store your medication.

I would advise you to try to arrange for the proper transport of your medication in a cooling container yourself. If you need any advice on that, please ask the doctor who prescribed the medication or contact KLM Cares.

Yvonne Mud

Beste Noud,
Ik ben Instructeur Eerste Hulp en als zodanig werkzaam op het ROC/Airport in Hoofddorp. Ik doe een poging de a.s. flight & ground crew de basisvaardigheden bij te brengen van Eerste hulp/ CPR/AED.
Om mijn lessen afwisselend te houden ben ik op zoek naar documentatie, ervaringsverhalen, afbeeldingen etc.
Kun jij me helpen?
Ik heb al een rondleiding gehad over de afdeling First Aid van Schiphol.
Hoor graag van je, met vriendelijke groet,
Yvonne Mud


Please what happens when a passenger suffers tonic clonic seizure on flight, would the flight be suspended and would the passenger pay extra fees

Betty Schneider

I am going on a medical mission and will only have a carry on and a purse. Can I also carry on my sleep apnea machine?

Bernice Essel

I have Sickle Cell Disease and have recently found out that I need oxygen to travel by air. Do you provide oxygen on journeys to Africa? And if you do, could I have the form to give to my Consultant to fill in which will indicate how much I need to be administered.

Hoping to hear from you soon as your reply will determine whether or not I travel with you.

Thank you


Could you please describe the conditions for a CPAP machine in the cabin? Is it possible to add it as an extra to the cabin baggage or what kind of limitation do you have on the flights?

Fijma Luijk

Besides the fact that I was born in the Netherlands, there is a very good reason why I LOVE KLM. Appr 3 years ago I had to #medicalescort a patient from Johannesburg to Amsterdam. The patient complicated due to interaction of two of his medications. All the crew from Cptn Tjeerd down to the last cabin crew member were amazing! And the doctorsbag fully equipped indeed. Will do it anytime over again with the KLM people behind me.

Poly Hatjimanolaki

I plan a trip to Scotland with KLM next month, Since I suffer from apnea i need to take my CPAP machine with me? is this possible without it been X- Rayed? It should be “instead” of the lap top? Should I have a medical certificate with me for the apnea?
Thank you in advance for your help.

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