Travelling when Pregnant

Is it Safe to Fly During Pregnancy?

Typically it’s perfectly safe to fly when you’re pregnant, provided you’re still in your first or second trimester and have had no medical problems.

Many women find flying easiest during the second trimester, or weeks 14 to 27, because they’re less likely to be experiencing morning sickness by this time and energy levels are usually good.

When is it NOT safe to fly?

It’s not generally considered safe to travel once you enter the third trimester, at week 36.

Also, if you’ve had any medical issues, such as spotting, diabetes, high blood pressure or placental abnormalities, or are considered at risk of going into premature labour, you should speak to your doctor before you consider flying.

Airline and airport regulations

Every airline has different regulations about carrying women who are pregnant. Some allow pregnant women to fly up to week 36. Others are unwilling to carry women passengers who are more than 28 weeks pregnant. A single airline’s regulations may also differ for different flight routes, so it’s important to ask what restrictions apply before you purchase a ticket.

Our staff aren’t likely to ask if you’re pregnant when you book a flight, but if you’re visibly pregnant, you might be questioned at the departure gate. The best way to avoid delays is to carry a letter from your doctor or midwife, specifying that you’ve been examined and are highly unlikely to go into labour in the next few days.

General risks and precautions

Discomfort

It’s worth considering how your pregnancy will affect your experience of flying, especially if you’re late in your second trimester and considering a long-haul flight. Sitting in an aeroplane seat for long periods is uncomfortable even if you’re not pregnant, especially if you’re an economy passenger. As someone who’s pregnant, you may be doubly uncomfortable. You might also find it difficult to manoeuvre narrow aisles and to get a seat belt to fit.

If you can, book an aisle seat so that you don’t have to clamber over other passengers to get to the toilets.

Medical risks

If you’re pregnant, you’re naturally at higher risk of certain medical conditions – on or off a plane. Accordingly, it’s important to take all your medical notes with you, including any insurance documentation and a list of emergency phone numbers, including one for your midwife or obstetrician.

During pregnancy, it’s likely you’ll be more prone than normal to swelling during a flight. It’s a good idea to wear loose clothing on the plane, remove any rings before you travel and avoid crossing your legs during the flight.

It’s possible that you may experience travel sickness even if you don’t normally, so it can be worth buying some travel sickness bands to wear and carrying some crystallised ginger to nibble on to alleviate the symptoms.

Thrombosis and varicose veins

Sitting still for many hours on long-haul flights increases the risks of thrombosis – or blood clots – and varicose veins for all people, but pregnant women are at higher than average risk.

To help avoid these conditions, you should

  • wear a good pair of medical support stockings, also known as compression stockings; to get the maximum protection from them, you should put them on in the morning when you get out of bed and keep them on for the whole day
  • move as much as possible; walk up and down the aisle every hour or so and regularly stretch and flex your legs and feet
  • stay well hydrated; drink plenty of fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol

Relax and enjoy your flight

Finally, if you are pregnant and considering a flight, take the time to relax and enjoy a holiday before your baby arrives! 

Medical Information Form 

Who should I contact ? 

We recommend you contact the airline directly for information regarding on board assistance. The Airline will be pleased to answer any Questions or Queries that you may have regarding assistance as long as it is at least 72 hours before your flight.


Alternatively, if you would prefer,  advise us about all the requirements you may have, we are happy to pass the details on to the relevant airline. Please complete the medical information form above. For Urgent Assistance please call our Medical 
specialists On 0844 74 00 615.

Fitness to Fly Certificate 

Some medical conditions require a fitness to fly certificate. If you consider yourself to have a condition that will require your G.P. to give authorisation for travel, please obtain a certificate from your G.P. stating you are fit to travel prior to contacting ourselves. If in doubt please Contact Us on the numbers shown above.
If there is cause for concern or reasonable doubt as to whether a passenger is ‘Fit To Fly’ the Airline, Cruise line or Tour operator  may request medical support in order to make a fair assessment.

Expectant Mothers 

Expectant mothers will be accepted without a medical certificate up to the end of the 27th week* of pregnancy. Between 28 and 34 weeks of pregnancy a medical certificate will be required. This must confirm the expected date of delivery and confirm fitness to fly (Doctors letter must have been written no earlier than 6 weeks before the outbound date of travel).


Expectant mothers will not be accepted under any circumstance after 34th Week* of pregnancy.
In the case of a multiple pregnancy the pregnancy should not be beyond the 32nd Week* at the time of the return inbound flight.


Cruise Lines will not accept passengers who have entered their 24th week* of pregnancy or beyond. All pregnant women are required to provide a letter to state both mother and baby are in good health and fit to travel.


Miscarriage
Passengers who have had a recent miscarriage may fly provided that they have had no bleeding or pain for at least 24 hours prior to the date of travel. A letter should be obtained from the passenger's doctor confirming this.

*The number of weeks is based on flights operated by Thomas Cook airlines. Other airlines' Policies may vary, so please check with the airline you are travelling with for their pregnancy restrictions.