What are the contraindications to flying?

Otitis, pneumothorax, embolism, baby, pregnant … Not everyone can fly! Before you embark on a journey, here is the list of contraindications you need to know.

People traveling by plane, especially over long distances, face phenomena such as pressure, oxygen depletion and depression that can change the normal function of the body. Even with health problems, it is sometimes necessary see a doctor to have his opinion before taking the plane. Some pathologies is contraindications takes air transport. In addition, one must think about have the drugs which may be necessary during the journey or shortly after arrival, in hand luggage. It is also advisable tobring a copy of the prescription in case of loss of medication. Who should not fly? Can we fly when we are pregnant ? What diseases prevent travel ? What a risk phlebitis by plane? How to avoid it?

What is the list of contraindications to flight?

Flights are usually contraindicated in the following cases, according to WHO recommendations confirmed by Santé Publique France:

newborns under 48 hours ;

pregnant after 36 weeks in a single pregnancy (9th month) and after the 32nd week in multiple pregnancies (8th month);

within 24 hours of diving ;

► persons with one of the the following diseases :

  • angina (angina pectoris) or chest pain at rest
  • active communicable disease
  • pressure drop disease after diving
  • increased intracranial pressure due to bleeding, trauma or infection
  • sinus, ear or nose inflammation especially if the Eustachian tube is blocked
  • heart attack myocardial or cerebrovascular accident (kind) recently (the deadline will depend on the severity of the pathology and the duration of the journey)
  • recent surgery or recent trauma involving a risk of flatulence (especially abdominal trauma or gastrointestinal intervention)
  • fracture with closed plaster (a medical certificate is desirable, especially if it has been in place for less than 48 hours)
  • craniofacial or ocular trauma, brain surgery or ocular penetration surgery
  • severe chronic respiratory disease, difficulty breathing at rest or pneumothorax unresorbed less than 2 to 3 weeks old
  • sickle cell disease
  • psychotic disorder unless it is completely controlled.

The above list is not exhaustive and suitability for travel should be determined on a case-by-case basis following medical advice. Around dental treatments such as fillings, these are generally not contraindications to flying. However, by incomplete root canals and dental caries, it is recommended thattalk about it before the trip with the dentist.

Avoid flying for 7 days after the birth of a baby.

At what age can a baby fly?

“Newborns under 48 hours should not fly” indicates Public Health France in its recommendations for travelers updated in 2022. “A healthy and fit baby can travel by plane 48 hours after birthbut it is he best to wait until 7 days of age. Until their organs have developed properly and stabilized, premature babies should always be examined by a doctor before traveling by plane. That pressure changes air in the cabin can disturb babies; This can be helped by feeding or giving a pacifier to stimulate swallowing“says WHO.

What diseases prevent air travel?

  • Diseases cardiovascular
  • Diseases respiratory severe chronic, difficulty breathing at rest or unresolved pneumothorax
  • Disorders blood as anemia
  • ENT infection ear, nose or sinuses, especially if the eustachian tube is blocked
  • angina (angina pectoris) or chest pain resting
  • Active infectious disease
  • Myocardial infarction Where recent stroke (the deadline to be met depends on the severity of the pathology and the duration of the journey)
  • sickle cell disease
  • psychotic disorder, unless it is completely under control

The above list is not exhaustive and suitability for travel should be determined on a case-by-case basis following medical advice.

What is the risk of phlebitis in the aircraft?

Air transport appears to be a risk factor for thromboembolic disease, multiply the risk by two or three for deep vein thrombosis, from a four-hour flight, and so much more as the flight is long “ reminiscent of Public Health France. Be aware if you have one or more of the following risk factors:

  • history of venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism
  • history of venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism in a close family member
  • estrogen therapy (birth control pills or hormone therapy)
  • pregnancy
  • recent surgery or traumaespecially surgery on the abdomen, pelvis or legs
  • Cancer
  • some genetic abnormalities of blood clots.

People with one or more of these risk factors are advised consult their doctor or go to a center
medication for long trips before considering flying
to move. A few more tips reduce the risk of phlebitis in the aircraft :

  • move during long flights (walking around, going to the toilet),
  • avoid placing luggage in such a way that it may interfere with leg movements,
  • wear loose and comfortable clothes,
  • use compression stockings
  • see your doctor for prescribing specific treatments such as heparin injections if you are at risk for thrombosis.

What is the deadline for flying during pregnancy?

Pregnant women can usually travel safely, but most airlines restrict
trips at the end of pregnancy:

After the 28th week of pregnancy (7th month)the woman must present a letter from her doctor or midwife confirming the expected date of birth and that the pregnancy is normal.

► During pregnancy monofootal (a baby), flights are allowed until the end of the 36th week (9th month).

► In case of multiple pregnancytheft is allowed until the end of the 32nd week (8th month).

Can you fly after a pneumothorax?

An unresolved pneumothorax less than 2 to 3 weeks old constitutes a contraindication to air travel. “Children with a history of pneumothorax should like adults check its disappearance before the flight and respect an interval of 7 days (case of a spontaneous pneumothorax) at 14 days (case of a traumatic pneumothorax) before flight“says Public Health France.


– Travel by air: health considerations = Air travel and health, WHO, updated in 2019.

– Health Recommendations for Travelers, Public Health France, June 2, 2022.

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