When booking the right trip is a matter of life and death

Roman Townsend

Global Corporate Communication Manager, Amadeus IT Group

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Judging by the way some business travellers ruthlessly negotiate airports, they clearly feel their journey is a matter of life and death. But can it ever really be so?

busy airport

One person who might disagree would be Peter Hodes, one of the many volunteer couriers from the Anthony Nolan Trust. The trust fights to save the lives of cancer patients in need of a stem-cell transplant (similar to a bone-marrow transplant). Once donated stem-cells must reach their recipient within 72 hours, worse still is that the courier’s ice box only protects them for 42 hours.

Peter has some compelling storiesto tell of real life and death journeys: pilots radioing ahead for special runway slots, chartered propeller planes, urgent re-bookings and seats by-the-door for a quick exit. Once he made it all the way back from Brisbane to Manchester in under 37 hours. During the 2010 ash-cloud lock-down of European airspace, one courier was stuck on the continent and Tweeted out for donation of a Eurostar ticket home. The train operator itself noticed the Tweet and saved the day.

Innovation in travel technology is what allows these couriers to undertake such complex trips. Journeys no one could have envisaged successfully making so quickly a generation ago. This is evidence that the combination of real-time travel booking tools, and travel providers prepared to support a good cause, can make any journey possible – more than door-to-door, donor-to-patient even.

Beyond the purely professional, this topic interests me further still. I too once had cancer and fully recovered thanks to a stem-cell transplant. The only flight my stem-cells took was up some stairs, but even then I worried they would be dropped or lost. I was later overwhelmed with admiration to discover the epic journeys some of these volunteer couriers make.

Proof of how successful a transplant can be is that I'm running a half marathon this summer to raise money for the Fundación Josep Carreras. The Fundación was founded by the opera singer Josep Carreras in 1988 after he suffered Leukemia; it was the first data base in Spain and now has over 130,000 registered donors – but still needs many more.

Please consider sponsoring meor signing up to a data base in the UK,Germany,France,United Statesor beyond. Together they pool information, so your donation in Spain could save someone far, far away (and vice versa).

At Amadeus we are committed to shaping the future of travel. Today, I want your help in shaping the destination-unknown journey of some 35,000 people globally in need of a stem-cell donor right now. Could you be the person who helps someone ensure their trip is not one-way?


Traveler Experience, Connected travel, Multimodal Travel