Can You Fly with Certain Medical Conditions?
At Cheap Airport Parking, although we make every effort to ensure the information we publish is correct, the information on this page is provided as a guide only. Nothing on this page should be considered to be medical advice and if you have any doubts about whether you're fit to fly, you should consult a medical professional.
Airline travel can expose you to a number of health issues. The air in a plane is very dry and thin, cabins are pressurised, and sitting for long periods in cramped conditions can cause blood clots.
Forget about lost luggage and delayed flights, nothing ruins a holiday quicker than rushing to the nearest hospital as soon as you land.
So, here are some common conditions and details on whether or not you can fly with them.
Flying with a perforated eardrum is fine; flying after surgery may not be.
The eardrum is located between the outer and middle ear. It’s a thin membrane that can rupture as a result of infections, trauma, and overzealous cleaning, This is known as a perforated eardrum.
Generally, the problem will heal on its own and you should be okay to fly. The perforation itself can be uncomfortable and even painful, but on a plane, that discomfort may worsen.
The reason your ears hurt when you fly is that air changes cause a build-up of pressure. But when your eardrum is perforated, it allows the pressure to balance out.
Needless to say, you can fly with a perforated eardrum.
However, if the issue was severe enough to require surgery, you’ll need to speak with your surgeon first.
High Blood Pressure
Yes, you can fly if you have high blood pressure, but the key question is whether your condition is under control.
It is a very valid concern, though, and there are some exceptions.
The issue is that many of the risks associated with high blood pressure increase at altitude. The air is thin, you’re sitting for long periods, and you may experience dizziness.
And if the altitude doesn’t get you, the airplane food and baggage charges might finish you off.
If you have high blood pressure, be sure to:
- Speak with your doctor
- Take all of your medication with you
- Limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine
- Avoid sleeping tablets and other drugs that might worsen your condition
- Stretch and walk during long flights
Reference: Blood Pressure UK
You can fly with a pacemaker, but you should consult your doctor first to be on the safe side.
The issue here is not the plane itself but the scanners used by airport security.
However, modern pacemakers are designed to ignore external interference, including the interference emitted by airport scanners.
You may trigger an alarm, though, so it’s important to take your device card with you.
Reference: London Heart Clinic
It is possible to fly with vertigo, but it all depends on the severity of the issue and how you feel.
The symptoms of vertigo can worsen when you are stressed and tired, and if you’re travelling all day and being funnelled through security checkpoints and down plane aisles, stress is inevitable.
If you feel like you can manage the trip, there are a few things you can do to ensure a smoother and more enjoyable experience:
- Arrive early and give yourself plenty of time
- Don’t travel alone
- Take all of your medication with you
- Speak to your doctor beforehand and ask for advice
- Ask for help on the plane if you experience any symptoms
- Try to remain calm as stress is a major trigger
Reference: Upper Cervical Awareness
An Ear Infection
If possible, you should avoid flying when you have an ear infection.
As noted above, flying places a lot of pressure on the inner ear, and if you have an infection, it may increase the pressure.
It will make for a painful and uncomfortable experience and could even worsen the condition.
Reference: Patient Info
A Viral Infection
Before 2020, millions of flyers wouldn’t have thought twice about hopping on a plane while struggling with a viral infection. These days, we’re all a little warier, and that’s a good thing.
If you have a viral infection, you could be exposing a lot of people to your germs. What’s more, there’s a chance you’ll find yourself in quarantine if the condition worsens.
It’s also unpleasant for you. If you’re weak, tired, and full of snot, the last thing you want is to wait in queues and then spend several hours on a plane.
So in short, it is best to avoid air travel if you have a viral infection and in any event, check with your doctor.
Reference: Fit For Travel (NHS)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
It is possible to fly with COPD, but you should consult with your doctor first as it can increase your chances of complications.
You can also take a portable oxygen concentrator (POC) on board with you. It will provide you with oxygen when you need it.
Reference: BMJ Journals
People with moderate to severe COPD are more likely to develop a condition known as hypoxia, whereby the body is starved of oxygen. It can lead to symptoms such as confusion, restlessness, rapid heart rate, and difficulty breathing. It is a life-threatening condition.
You should be okay to fly with a cast, but you may need to make some additional arrangements.
It all depends on the airline’s rules.
For instance, Ryanair states that you are only required to book one seat if your upper limbs are in a cast. But if your full leg is in a cast, you need a total of 3 seats, thus allowing you to elevate your leg throughout the flight.
Their rules also state that the cast must be split if the cast was fitted less than 48 hours before the flight.
Consult with your chosen airline for more information.
Summary: Flying with Certain Medical Conditions
Let’s be honest, if you’re reading this article, it means you’ve decided that googling your question is more important than asking a doctor.
We’ve all been there. It can be hard to get an appointment these days and even if it’s possible, you don’t want to bother them.
But it only takes a couple of minutes of their time and it could make a big difference to your health.
So, if you have a medical condition and you’re not sure where you stand, contact your doctor first. You don’t need to make an appointment if you don’t want to—a simple phone call will suffice. They know your condition, your medical history, and your current prescriptions, so they are best positioned to answer your questions.