Tips For Flying While Pregnant

Flying while pregnant?

Can you fly when pregnant? 

The general answer is yes, in most cases, but there are restrictions and policies to be aware of. Most airline pregnancy policies vary from each other so do check. This post details over 25 airline policies for traveling whilst pregnant as well as practical tips for flying in any trimester.

a lady flying when pregnant sitting down on an airplane seat.

Many women will need to fly during pregnancy, whether for a wedding, business trip or a well- deserved relaxing ‘baby-moon’. Whatever the reason, you may have some extra concerns or simply would like some practical tips to make your flight as relaxing as possible.

It’s always worth checking with your midwife and/or doctor and informing them of your travel plans and gain their insight, but here is some information to help you on your way.

Flying during pregnancy: The first trimester

During your first trimester, your main concern is likely to be regarding how you will cope with morning sickness and the tiredness. You may prefer shorter flights for this reason.

Another concern may be your baby’s safety in those early weeks. The NHS states that “whether you’re travelling or not, the risk of miscarriage is higher in the first three months. While there’s no reason why you can’t travel at this time, if you have any worries discuss them with your midwife or doctor.”

Airlines polices do vary on the age a newborn can fly. but they don’t have a policy on the early stages of pregnancy if you and baby are fit and healthy. This usually kicks in on the third trimester or towards the end of the second.

Flying during the second trimester

Many mums-to-be feel this is the easiest time to travel. The morning sickness has hopefully eased, the tiredness abated and energy levels are higher. You are also less likely to deliver during this trimester, which will reduce the stress levels for everyone.

This is the stage I have traveled whilst pregnant. Once was a long haul flight and the other time was a short four hour flight. I took my pregnancy pillow with me, (bulky but worth it) which made me feel a lot more comfortable, especially as I was nearing the end of my 27th week on the return flight.

Even though, the airline I flew with didn’t require a letter until the 28th week, I knew from experience as crew, it would be better to have one and reassure crew members that I wasn’t imminently about to give birth!

So, I would still advise asking for a doctors ‘fit to fly’ letter to take anyway, as this avoids any awkward conversations with airline staff, and also gives you some peace of mind.

P.S Don’t forget to pack your medical records in your hand luggage. Just in case…

Flying during the third trimester

This is where most of the restrictions come in and a doctors letter is necessary, often called a ‘fit to fly’ letter.

What’s the latest you can fly when pregnant?

Airlines rules do vary, so always check with your airline first.
For example, both Emirates and British Airways restrict travel after the 36th week, and if you are carrying twins, triplets then this is reduced to the 32nd week.

However, Emirates require a letter, once you enter your 29th week of pregnancy, from your doctor stating you are healthy, fit to fly and that they see no reason why you cannot travel, whereas British Airways, require this letter as you enter your 28th week.
Bear in mind these dates include the outbound section of your journey too.

Also some countries restrict or limit entry for non-national pregnant women. Malaysia is one of these that restrict after 6 months.

Get insured

Whichever stage of pregnancy you travel in, make sure you take the appropriate travel insurance. Be aware that some regard pregnancy as a medical condition whereas others do not.

Read the small print, as if you have an IVF pregnancy, not all insurance agencies cover.

lady at airport flying when pregnant with plane in background.

Some useful Do and Don’ts

  • Do take your medical records.
  • Do consider wearing compression socks.
  • Do be comfortable and wear loose clothes.
  • Do consider taking a maternity pillow. It really helped me on my 7 hour flight and was worth stuffing into my hand luggage.
  • Do drink lots of water.
  • Do wear slip on shoes in case your feet swell.
  • Do try to sit within a few rows of the on-board toilets for those urgent dashes.
  • Do read the in-flight health advice and move around to keep the blood flowing.
  • Don’t be shy, if you need one, ask for a seat belt extender.
  • Don’t expect to sit an emergency exit row as it against airline safety policy if you are pregnant.
  • Don’t lift heavy bags, so pack lightly in case there is no one to assist. Many airlines have policies regarding health and safety for their own staff, and I personally can account for a major back operation after being helpful and lifting hand luggage into an overhead locker.
  • NB Korean Air provide an amenity kit for pregnant passengers.

Airline Rules for Flying When Pregnant

Air Canada

If you have a normal pregnancy and no previous history of premature labor, you may travel up to and including your 36th week on Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express. 

Air France

You do not need medical clearance to fly with Air France. However, the airline recommends you seek your doctor’s opinion before traveling and avoid travel starting from week 37 of your pregnancy and during the 7 days following childbirth.

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand states that you will require medical clearance from their medical professionals, if the following applies:

  • A complicated pregnancy, such as placenta previa or bleeding
  • A multiple pregnancy, such as twins or triplets
  • A history of premature labour
  • Begun the early stages of labour

To apply for medical clearance, see conditions requiring medical clearance.

With regards to when and how long you can fly, will depend on how far through your pregnancy term you are. The Air New Zealand polices are as follows:

  • For a single baby with an uncomplicated pregnancy and clearance from your doctor or midwife: – You can board flights over four hours, up to the end of the 36th week
  • – You can board flights under four hours, up to the end of the 40th week
  • For multiple pregnancies, such as twins, with an uncomplicated pregnancy and clearance from your doctor or midwife:
  • – You can board flights over four hours, up to the end of the 32nd week
  • – You can board flights under four hours, up to the end of the 36th week

If you want to travel for medical treatment, you can apply for clearance. See conditions requiring medical clearance.

Air New Zealand also recommend that if you are beyond your 28th week, you carry a letter from your doctor or midwife saying they believe you are fit for travel, confirming your pregnancy dates and that there are no complications.

Alaska Airlines

No restrictions or specifications for women traveling when pregnant. However, the airline suggests consulting a physician prior to any air travel.

American Airlines

If your due date is within 4 weeks of your flight, you must provide a doctor’s certificate stating that you’ve been recently examined and you are fit to fly.

  • For domestic flights under 5 hours, you won’t be permitted to travel within 7 days (before and after) your delivery date. If you need to travel within this time frame:
  • Approval from your physician and a special assistance coordinator is required.
  • Your physician will be required to fill out a passenger medical form before your flight. A special assistance coordinator will send the form directly to your physician.

For international flights or travel over water the following is required:

  • Clearance from a special assistance coordinator is required for international travel or travel over water:
  • Within 4 weeks of your due date (travel also requires a physician’s note stating that you’ve been examined within the past 48 hours and you’re fit to fly)
  • 7 days before or after your delivery (travel also requires a passenger medical form to be completed by your physician)

British Airways

You cannot fly after:

  • the end of the 36th week if you are pregnant with one baby
  • the end of the 32nd week if you are pregnant with more than one baby

British Airways recommends that you carry a confirmation from your doctor or midwife that includes whether your pregnancy is single or multiple, your expected due date and confirmation that there are no complications.

Cathay Pacific

With Cathay Pacific, they require a medical certificate in English for all pregnancies after 28 weeks.

  • A single uncomplicated pregnancy can fly up to 36 weeks.
  • A multiple uncomplicated pregnancy can fly up to 32 weeks maximum. The certificate must be dated within 10 days of the initial outbound travel date and include:
  • whether it is a single or multiple pregnancy
  • the estimated week of pregnancy
  • the expected date of delivery (EDD)
  • that you are in good health and the pregnancy is progressing normally, without complications
  • that you are fit to travel

Acceptance of passengers with complicated pregnancies on Cathay Pacific

For passengers with complicated pregnancies (i.e. pregnancy with any form of complication), acceptance to travel will depend on clinical information stated in the MEDA form and reviewed by their Company Aviation Medical Team on case by case basis – medical clearance from our medical team is required prior to travel.

Please ensure you and your treating doctor complete the MEDA form and submit it no later than 48 hours prior to your planned departure.

If you experience any medical complications during your travel, you must get medical clearance from Cathay Pacific’s medical team prior to your return journey. If you don’t have a medical certificate or if your medical certificate is outdated or if it does not contain the information required, Cathay Pacific Airways reserves the right to deny boarding.

Delta Air Lines

Delta does not impose any restrictions on flying if you’re pregnant and don’t require a medical certificate for you to travel. They do remind you that, if you’re traveling after your eighth month, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to be sure travel is not restricted. Keep in mind when booking, ticket change fees and penalties cannot be waived for pregnancy with Delta. 

Emirates Airline

You do not require a certificate or letter if you are 28 weeks pregnant or less. If you are pregnant and plan to travel once you have entered your 29th week of pregnancy, a medical certificate or letter signed by an appropriately qualified doctor or midwife is required, stating:

  • the confirmation of a singleton or multiple pregnancy
  • the pregnancy is progressing without complications
  • the estimated date of delivery
  • the date up to which you are expected to be fit to travel
  • that you are in good health
  • that there is no reason known to them that would prevent you from flying

Please note that if you choose not to carry a valid medical certificate, you may not be accepted for travel if there is any doubt about your ability to complete the journey safely.

  • Travel after the 36th week of gestation for single, uncomplicated pregnancies, and after the 32nd week of gestation for multiple, uncomplicated pregnancies will be permitted only after prior clearance from Emirates Medical Services. A medical information form (MEDIF) will need to be submitted for clearance purposes.
  • Some countries restrict or limit entry of non-national pregnant women. We recommend that you consult with the local consulate or embassy if in any doubt.

Etihad

During the first 28 weeks of your pregnancy, you do not need a medical certificate to fly, though Etihad always recommend speaking with your doctor to get their advice before you travel.

Single pregnancy

  • From weeks 29 to 36, you will require a medical certificate to fly, which you’ll have to present when you check in at the airport
  • Once you reach the 37th week of your pregnancy, you will not be accepted to travel 

Multiple pregnancy

  • From weeks 29 to 32, you will require a medical certificate to fly, which you’ll have to present when you check in at the airport
  • Once you reach the 33rd week of your pregnancy, you will not be accepted to travel

EVA

  • An expectant mother during the last 4 weeks of pregnancy(or 8 weeks if multiple pregnancy)or a mother within the first 7 days after giving birth, cannot be accepted as a passenger on an EVA flight.
  • An expectant mother during the last 12 to 4 weeks of pregnancy (last 12 to 8 weeks if multiple pregnancy) prior to delivery date, must obtain a medical information sheet (MEDIF) within 10 days prior to flight departure. Please contact EVA Air reservation office at least 48 hours (two working days) before your scheduled flight departure.
  • EVA recommend that pregnant travelers bring a Doctor’s Diagnostic Statement / Fit to fly verifying the expected due date,  to prevent the possibility of being denied boarding by airport staff of barred from entering a destination country. Regulations vary from country to country. We recommend you check travel requirements with the local diplomatic mission of your destination country before you make a reservation.

Frontier Airlines

  • For Volaris flights, pregnant women may travel without any restrictions during the first 35 weeks of pregnancy. As of the 36th week of pregnancy, the pregnant passenger may travel by providing a medical certificate or by executing a release of responsibility in favor of Volaris, which will be available at the Volaris gate or ticket counter.
  • For Frontier flights, passengers who are pregnant are urged to consult with their doctor on whether it is safe to travel by air, including with due consideration to the possibility of turbulence, cabin pressurization, significantly increased risk of deep vein thrombosis associated with pregnancy, and lack of ready access to medical care. Frontier advocates women in their ninth month of pregnancy to obtain an examination from their physician shortly before flying to confirm that flying by air will be safe. By traveling with Frontier, pregnant women acknowledge and accept these risks.

Hawaiian Airlines

  • You can fly when pregnant with Hawaiian Airlines if you are in good health, not experiencing medical complications or distress and not planning to travel within seven days of your due date.
  • If you are not in good health or are in distress, then for your safety you may not be allowed to board your flight. A Hawaiian Airlines airport customer service agent may consult a medical advisor to determine whether you’re fit to travel.
  • If you’re traveling within the State of Hawaii, you will need a medical certificate from your doctor to be permitted to fly on Hawaiian Airlines if:
  • Your travel date is within seven days of your due date or if you are traveling between Hawaii and North America or Internationally.
  • For this medical certificate, your obstetrician will need to examine you within 48 hours of your scheduled departure and provide a written certification that you’re medically fit to travel if your travel date is within 30 days of your due date.

JAL

 A medical certificate is required for all international routes with the following criteria (medical certificates are available here):

  • When the expected delivery date is in four weeks or less (36th week of pregnancy or after)
  • When the due date is 14 days or less, an obstetrician must accompany the expectant mother.
  • When the due date is not certain
  • When multiple births may be expected
  • When there were previous premature births
  • The doctor responsible must fill in the due date, whether or not it is safe for the woman to fly, and any special precautions that should be taken during travel.
  • Medical certificates must be completed 7 days or less before departure.
    Click here to download the Medical Information Form (MEDIF) and examples of filled in forms.

JetBlue

Passengers expecting to deliver within seven days, are not allowed to travel on JetBlue unless you present documentation from your doctor, dated no more than 72 hours prior to departure, that states:

  • The doctor has examined you and found you to be physically fit for air travel to and from your destinations on the date of the flight
  •  Your estimated date of delivery is after the date of your last flight.

Lufthansa

  • Lufthansa passengers can fly until the end of the 36th week of pregnancy, or until 4 weeks before the expected due date if the pregnancy is uncomplicated. No medical certificate is required from a gynaecologist. However, beyond the 28th week of a pregnancy, Lufthansa recommend that expectant mothers carry a current certificate from a gynaecologist which includes the following:
  • confirmation that the pregnancy is progressing without complications
  • the expected due date
  • the gynaecologist should expressly state that the patient’s pregnancy does not prevent her from flying.
  • where the pregnancy involves a twin or multiple pregnancy, the expectant mother may fly up to the end of the 28th week of pregnancy
  • because of the increased risk of thrombosis during pregnancy, we recommend the wearing of compression stockings in the aircraft
  • Download the Lufthansa certificate for your doctor to fill out and carry it with you during your flight.

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways will not accept expectant mothers who are pregnant from their 36th week or beyond.

  • Up to and including the 28th week  a pregnancy without complications, a certificate is not required, but Qatar recommend obtaining one to avoid any delays.
  • From the beginning of 29th week up to end of 32nd week, a certificate is required for a single pregnancy, and for a multiple or complicated pregnancy a doctors certificate AND a MEDIF form is needed.

  • Beginning of 33rd week up to end of 35th week, a mother with a single pregnancy, will need a certificate snd a MEDIF form.
  • Beginning of 33rd week up to end of 35th week for a multiple or complicated pregnancy, Qatar Airways will not accept the expectant mother on board.

Qantas

  • Flights of four+ hours: For routine pregnancies, you can travel up to the end of the 36th week for single pregnancies and the end of the 32nd week for multiple pregnancies.
  • Flights less than four hours: For routine pregnancies, you can travel up to the end of the 40th week for single pregnancies and the end of the 36th week for multiple pregnancies.
  • Medical clearance is required if it is not a routine pregnancy and you have any complications.

After 28 weeks, you will need to carry a certificate or letter from a registered medical practitioner or registered midwife confirming:

  • the estimated date of delivery
  • whether it is a single or multiple pregnancy
  • that the pregnancy is routine and that there are no complications
  • The certificate or letter must be available on request and be carried with you at the airport and during the flight in your cabin baggage

The certificate or letter must be available on request and be carried with you at the airport and during the flight in your cabin baggage.

Singapore Airlines

  • If you have not reached 28 weeks, then no medical certificate is required. However, a medical certificate must be presented for your return flight if it is scheduled beyond the 28th week of your pregnancy.
  • For uncomplicated single pregnancies, expectant mothers cannot fly beyond the 36th week of pregnancy.
  • For uncomplicated multiple pregnancies, expectant mothers cannot fly beyond the 32nd week of pregnancy.
  • For uncomplicated single pregnancies between 29 weeks and 36 weeks of pregnancy, expectant mothers are required to provide a medical certificate stating the following: fitness to travel, number of weeks of pregnancy and the estimated date of delivery. The certificate should be dated within 10 days of the date of the first flight exceeding 28 weeks of pregnancy. This certificate will have to be presented at check-in when requested.
  • For uncomplicated multiple pregnancies, you need to present the medical certificate if you are traveling between the 29th and 32nd week of pregnancy (calculated based on the expected date of delivery).

South African Airways

Medical clearance is only necessary if you are experiencing complications with your pregnancy.

  • Travel within South Africa is permitted up to 36 weeks for a routine pregnancy.
  • International travel is permitted up to 35 weeks for a routine pregnancy.

All pregnant women beyond 28 weeks’ gestation must provide a letter from their obstetrician, general practitioner or midwife stating the following:

  • Term of pregnancy
  • Fitness to travel
  • Whether it is a single, multiple or high-risk pregnancy
  • Any possible complications, including hypertension, history of premature labour, etc

Southwest Airlines

Southwest has no restrictions, but recommends  against air travel beginning at the 38th week of pregnancy. Depending on their physical condition, strength, and agility, pregnant women may, in some cases, be asked not to sit in the emergency exit row. 

Swiss

  • Mothers-to-be whose pregnancy is uncomplicated can travel on Swiss flights up to the end of the 36th week of pregnancy. i.e. up until four weeks before their scheduled delivery date.
  • If you are expecting a multiple birth and the pregnancy proceeds without complications, you can travel on Swiss flights up to the end of the 32th week of pregnancy.
  • Swiss recommend expectant mothers beyond the 28th week of their pregnancies to carry a current letter from a physician stating that the pregnancy is uncomplicated and confirming the expected date of delivery. The physician should state that the patient’s pregnancy does not prevent her from travelling by air.
  • Swiss advise pregnant women to wear compression stockings, and to drink enough water and to discuss your air travel plans with your gynecologist in advance, to minimize any additional risk.

Turkish Airlines

  • If you are less than 28 weeks pregnant and pregnant with one child, you can fly without a doctor’s letter.
  • If you are expecting one baby and between 28-35 weeks you need a doctor’s letter stating you are fit to fly between 28–35 weeks. After that, you are no longer allowed to fly even with medical clearance.
  • Pregnant women expecting multiples can fly during weeks 28–31 of the pregnancy with a doctor’s letter stating they are fit to fly. At the end of the 31st week, pregnant women are no longer allowed to fly even with medical clearance.
  • Medical clearance must be dated seven days or less prior to the flight.
  • The clearance must contain the doctor’s full name, diploma number and signature.
  • The report should be issued in English or Turkish.

United Airlines

  • Any woman traveling before 36 weeks of pregnancy will be allowed to travel on a United flight without medical documentation.
  • A woman traveling at or after 36 weeks of pregnancy must have the original and two copies of an obstetrician’s certificate, which must be dated within three days (72 hours) prior to her flight departure. To best assure the pregnant traveler’s safety, it is preferable to have a certificate dated within one day of flight departure.
  • The certificate must state that the obstetrician has examined the customer and found her to be physically fit for air travel between the specified dates. The estimated birth date of the baby must be after the date of the last flight on the itinerary.
  • The customer should provide the original certificate to a United Representative at check-in. The remaining copies are for reference during air travel.

Virgin Australia

If you are 28 weeks pregnant or more, you will be required to carry a letter from your doctor or midwife, dated no more than 10 days prior to travel, outlining the estimated due date, single or multiple pregnancies, the absence of complications, and your fitness to fly for the duration of the flight(s) booked.

  • You can make a direct request to Virgin Australia to consider your pregnancy and relevant medical condition on a case by case basis by contacting our Guest Contact Centre.

Virgin Australia require you to travel with medical clearance (PDF, 131KB) during pregnancy if the following applies:

You will not be accepted on the flight on flights greater than 4 hours if:

  • Single pregnancy – after the 36th week
  • Multiple pregnancy – after the 32nd week
  • Within 48 hours of delivery Normal Vaginal Delivery (NVD)

or on flights less than 4 hours if:

  • Single pregnancy – after the 40th week
  • Multiple pregnancy – after the 36th week
  • Within 48 hours of delivery Normal Vaginal Delivery (NVD)

Virgin Atlantic

If you have had no complications during your pregnancy, you can fly until your 28th week without a medical letter. 

  • With a single pregnancy: If you’re expecting one baby and want to travel between your 28th and 36th weeks,  you need a certificate from your doctor. The certificate should state that you have had no complications and your estimated delivery date. The letter may be asked for at the airport or onboard. Travel may be delayed or denied if you do not have this if asked.

After your 36th week, you mustn’t fly unless there are mitigating circumstances – which you can find listed below.

Travelling after the cut-off date

  • For travel after the 36th week for single pregnancies, or after the 32nd week for multiple pregnancies, we can only carry you for urgent medical or compassionate reasons, and only on approval from our medical advisors.
  • We may also ask that a suitable medical attendant accompany you. Please contact our Special Assistance team on 0344 412 4455 for more details.
  • You can call the Virgin Atlantic Special Assistance team on 0344 412 4455 if you need to discuss this information in more detail, or if you need to let us know about:
    • A complicated pregnancy 
    • A recent Caesarean Section delivery 
    • A recent miscarriage.
  • Multiple pregnancy – If you’re expecting more than one baby and want to travel between your 28th and 32nd weeks, again you’ll need to travel with a doctor’s certificate stating you’ve had no complications and your estimated delivery date. Travel may be delayed or denied if you don’t have your certificate available if asked. You mustn’t fly after the end of your 32nd week. Please do remember to include your return travel date in this time frame.
 

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