Make Sure You Are Fit To Fly Or Risk Cancelling Travel Plans

Posted: 3rd March 2015 15:23

UK airlines transported an estimated 136 million passengers to both domestic and international destinations in 2013 – an increase of two million in 12 months, according to the UK government.

But while so many people are winging their way through the skies, how many actually stop to consider if they are fit to fly?

After all while airlines might shoulder the responsibility of getting people to their destination on time, passengers must be sure they are in good enough health to climb on board as there are a number of medical conditions that can prevent you from flying at all unless you have a doctor’s approval.

Whether on a short-haul domestic trip or a long-haul flight across the globe, many airlines will put a stop to a passengers’ flight if they are not satisfied the person is fit to fly.

Airline policy
Most airlines have specific information available on what medical conditions require GP clearance before flying and which do not, with basic guidelines available on the minimum time allowed between treatment and flight.
For example, heart patients are not permitted to fly during the first fortnight after surgery, and must provide authorisation from their doctor regarding their fitness to fly after the two weeks has passed.

In general when patients are planning air travel, doctors must judge whether or not a condition can be exacerbated by the basic effects of air travel: cabin pressure, oxygen levels and, in an emergency, a patient’s physical ability to take emergency measures are all important in assessing fitness to fly.

In this regard, people who have recently undergone surgery are a risk, as the air which enters into bodily cavities during surgery – particularly the abdomen – is likely to expand due to the drop in pressure, causing great discomfort. For this reason, those who are suffering from infected ears or sinuses should also try and avoid air travel altogether.

Pregnancy is a much-debated topic between health professionals and airlines, and the current regulations state that, depending on how long you’ve been pregnant, whether it’s a single or multiple birth, and if you’ve had any complications to date, you can travel normally up to 28 weeks.

Beyond this time (but before 32 weeks for multiple and 36 for single births, after which you cannot fly) you’ll need to notify both the airline and your doctor, who can provide the clearance you need if there are no foreseen complications.

Allowances are generally made for those needing medical equipment such as syringes, but these must be properly stored and stowed away on the flight. Most airlines will also allow you to bring an oxygen tank on board provided it does not exceed a specific size.

The British Airways guide to flying after an illness or operation is a good example of the sort of medical requirements which airlines should consider – although specific terms may vary between airlines. It’s always best to check with your flight provider before you travel whether or not your condition is likely to preclude you.

Insurance providers
To ensure that you’re entitled to the best possible level of care during your time on holiday, your insurance provider should be kept up-to-date on any medical conditions – new or old.

Not all insurance companies offer cover for pre-existing medical conditions, but a policy from Saga Travel Insurance ensures that, provided your doctor declares you fit, you can take to the skies without needing a medical certificate.

Just as with your doctor, your insurance provider should also be kept up to speed when it’s time to fly – if you suffer illness or injury while on holiday, most travel insurance providers offer telephone hotlines for you to get in touch and receive the medical and financial help you need under the terms of your policy.

In order to comply with your policy, you may need to obtain a fit-to-fly certificate from your doctor before your cover takes effect – and so that you can begin your holiday safe in the knowledge that your condition won’t threaten to spoil a lovely trip.