The advisability of flying whilst pregnant is a frequently asked question.

The commercial aircraft environment is not generally considered hazardous to the normal pregnancy. At a normal cabin altitude the maternal haemoglobin remains 90% saturated and because of the favourable properties of foetal haemoglobin (HbF) including increased oxygen carrying potential plus increased foetal hematocrit and the Bohr effect, foetal PaO2 changes very little.

The key focus in assessment of fitness to fly is the health and well-being of the mother and the baby. Delivery in flight, or diversion in flight to a location, which may not have high quality obstetric services, is undesirable. For this reason, most airlines do not allow travel after 36 weeks for a single pregnancy and after 32 weeks for multiple pregnancies.

Most airlines require a certificate after 28 weeks, confirming that the pregnancy is progressing normally, that there are no complications and the expected date of delivery. In specific individual circumstances, an airline may allow some discretion.

Source: CAA

Based on NHS advice page, here are the things you could do:


Speak to your General Practitioner (GP)

Before you even think about heading to the airport, speak to your GP or midwife. After all, every pregnancy is different so they will be able to advise you regarding whether it would be safe for you to travel.


Check your travel insurance

If you booked travel insurance for your holiday before you found out your happy news, then you’ll need to check your policy to see if you’re covered. It’s worth getting in touch with the travel insurance provider directly to make sure or amend your policy.

If you haven’t booked travel insurance yet, make sure you opt for a policy which covers you during pregnancy.


Check with your airline

Airlines have different rules on the maximum number of weeks of pregnancy they allow before you can no longer travel with them. However, it’s worth noting that after 28 weeks, most airlines will need a letter from your midwife or GP to confirm that you’re in good health, as well as the expected date of delivery – and some GPs do charge for this service.

We take a look at examples of some airline pregnancy rules below:

  • British Airways: You cannot fly after the end of the 36th week if you are pregnant with one baby, or the end of the 32nd week if you are pregnant with more than one baby. They also recommend you bring a letter from your GP confirming you are safe to fly. Find out more on the BA website.
  • easyJet : You can travel up to the end of the 35th week for single pregnancies, or the 32nd week if you’re expecting more than one baby. Find out more on the easyJet website.
  • Virgin Atlantic: As long as you haven’t experienced any complications during your pregnancy, you can fly until your 28th week before needing a letter from your GP or midwife. You can fly with Virgin until the 36th week of your pregnancy – but if you’re expecting more than one then it’s the 32nd week. Find out more on the Virgin Atlantic website.
  • Ryanair: You can travel with the airline up to 28 weeks in, after which they require a ‘fit to fly’ letter from your midwife or doctor. You can fly with the airline until the end of the 36th week of a single pregnancy, or the 32nd week if you’re expecting more than one baby. Find out more on the Ryanair website.


Risk of blood clots when flying

Flying for longer than 4 hours (long-haul travel) increases your risk of getting blood clots (thrombosis). It’s not known if this risk gets higher when you are pregnant.

Wearing correctly-fitted compression stockings will reduce your risk of blood clots and fluid being retained in your legs (oedema). You can buy these over the counter in a pharmacy.

The following things can also reduce your risk of blood clots:

  • calf exercises – most airlines provide information on these
  • walking around the aircraft when possible
  • wearing loose, comfortable clothing


Source: NHS

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