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Medical conditions and pregnancy

Close-up of nurse measuring someone's blood pressure.

Travelling can be a bit daunting if you have a medical condition or are pregnant but in most cases you don't need to do anything different. You may need to take some precautions and the below information will help you understand what you need to do.

Travel insurance

We recommend to buy a suitable travel insurance as medical charges and repatriation costs can be very expensive depending on the country you're visiting. We can offer you the opportunity to buy travel insurance as part of your flight booking but it is only available for some countries. If it's available, you will see the option when you're confirming and paying for your flights.

Travelling with a medical escort

Sometimes, even if your medical condition is serious, you can still travel but it must be with a medical escort. We recommend you book this through a recognised medical assistance company who specialise in this type of service.

Medical clearance - am I fit to fly?

For some medical conditions you need to get medical clearance before you can fly, for example:

  • recent illness, hospitalisation, injury or surgery
  • existing unstable medical condition
  • need for additional oxygen or use of medical equipment on board
  • travelling for medical reasons or treatment

How to get medical clearance

Please download the medical information form (pdf, 650kb, English only) and fill out part one. Then ask your doctor to complete part two and send the completed form to our Passenger Medical Clearance Unit (PMCU) who will be able to advise if you're fit to fly.

We assess your fitness based on internationally accepted criteria by the World Health Organisation so we can be sure you have a safe and comfortable flight. In some cases we may need additional information, or ask you to travel with a medical escort or supplementary oxygen.

Contacts

collapsedshowPassenger Medical Clearance Unit (PMCU)

British Airways and OpenSkies have a dedicated Passenger Medical Clearance team who can assess your fitness to fly and advise if you'll be able to travel.

Telephone + 44 (0) 20 8738 5444
Fax + 44 (0) 20 8738 9644
Email pmcu.pmcu@ba.com
collapsedshowBritish Airways Safety Team

If you need to use medical equipment on board that contains batteries there might be some restrictions. Please contact our Safety Team to advise.

Telephone + 44 (0) 20 8738 8357
Fax + 44 (0) 20 8738 9313
Email safety.1.safety@ba.com

collapsedshowTravelling with other airlines
  • If you're travelling with our subsidiary OpenSkies between Paris and New York, please contact OpenSkies for your requirements.
  • If your flight is operated by one of our airline or franchise partners, they may have different processes so please contact them directly before you travel.

Travelling when you're pregnant

For your and your baby’s safety 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

After 28 weeks you must carry a confirmation from your doctor or midwife, such as a letter or certificate, in addition to your pregnancy record. This should be written within seven days prior to travel and confirm your approximate due date, that you're fit to travel and that there are no complications with your pregnancy.

Travel health information

collapsedshowFlying after an illness or an operation

You need to be very careful if you're considering flying after an operation or illness. Please speak to your doctor before making a booking to confirm they're happy for you to fly.

The below details are a guide to the minimum time you must leave before you can travel and also whether you need to tell us about your condition. If you're in doubt, please contact our PMCU team.

Medical condition You can travel after: Do you need to contact us?
Major chest, abdominal or cranial surgery 10 days No

Tonsillectomy

6 days No
Appendectomy or abdominal keyhole surgery
5 days You should obtain a fit to fly letter from your treating doctor.
Broken bone

If you have a broken bone and a plaster cast fitted you cannot fly within:

  • 24 hours if your planned flight is less than two hours
  • 48 hours if your flight is longer than two hours

If you have a full leg cast you can travel in our First and Club World (business long haul) cabins that offer more legroom. To be able to travel in our other cabins you will need to buy an extra seat with moveable armrests so you can elevate your leg.

In some circumstances these restrictions may not apply so please contact our PMCU to discuss your individual situation.
Heart conditions
Angioplasty If the procedure went well you can usually fly after 3 to 5 days.
Contact PMCU
Heart surgery If you feel well you can travel after 10 days but we suggest you wait until after 4 weeks if possible. If you had surgery within 4 weeks of travel contact PMCU.
Heart attack You should not fly within 7 days and then only fly if it’s essential but we recommend to wait until after 4 weeks. If you have been in hospital within 4 weeks of travel contact PMCU.
Angina If you don’t have regular attacks you can fly at any time but always carry your medication in your hand baggage.
If you have been in hospital within 4 weeks of travel contact PMCU.
Chest conditions
Stable asthma You can travel at any time but always carry your inhalers in your hand baggage.  No
Chronic bronchitis, emphysema or other forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease If you can walk 50m, without oxygen and getting breathless, you should be fit to fly.
If you can’t walk this far you may need supplementary in-flight oxygen, which must be pre-booked.
Even if you're intending to use your own Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) contact PMCU.
Pneumothorax (deflated lung) You cannot fly unless the condition is fully resolved for at least 7 days. If you had this condition within a month of the date you want to fly contact PMCU.
Neurological conditions
Stroke If you are feeling well enough and your symptoms are stable or improving you can fly after 3 days. If you had a stroke within 10 days of the date you want to fly contact PMCU.
Epilepsy You should not travel within 24 hours of a major seizure.  No
Ear conditions
Ear or sinus infection The air in your middle ear and sinuses needs to be able to stabilise when you fly by allowing your ears to pop. Do not fly if your ears or sinuses feel blocked. You may suffer severe pain or perforate your eardrums causing long-term damage.
No
Middle ear surgery 10 days No
Eye conditions    
Cataract surgery and corneal laser surgery 1 day No
Other eye surgery At least 6 days If you had gas introduced into your eye (e.g. for treatment of detached retina) please contact PMCU who may need a report from your doctor.
Other conditions
Anaemia If your haemoglobin is below 7.5g/dl please let us know. Contact PMCU
Circulatory conditions, e.g. Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) If you had recent circulatory conditions, such as DVT but have been discharged from hospital and your condition is resolved you should be fit to fly. Contact PMCU
Infectious disease If you have an infectious disease and while it is still contagious, we are not allowed to carry you in line with International Health Regulations.
Contact your doctor or PMCU to find out the infectivity period of your illness.

If you had surgery within 4 weeks of travelIf you had surgery within 4 weeks of travel 
collapsedshowTravellers' thrombosis (DVT)

Traveller’s thrombosis or Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a vein, usually in the lower legs. Research has confirmed that if you are sitting in an aircraft, car, bus or train for more than four hours the risk of a blood clot forming may increase.

Factors increasing the risk of DVT include:

  • being over the age of 40
  • suffering previously from DVT or a pulmonary embolism or someone in your close family suffering from it
  • use of oestrogen-therapy, oral contraceptives ('the Pill') or hormone-replacement therapy (HRT)
  • pregnancy
  • recent surgery or trauma, particularly to the abdomen, pelvic region or legs
  • cancer
  • some inherited blood-clotting abnormalities and other blood disorders

If you think any of the factors above may affect you, seek medical advice before travelling. Your doctor may advise that compression stockings or anti-coagulant medication can help to avoid the possibility of DVT.

You can reduce the risk of DVT by:

  • drinking normal amounts of fluid
  • avoiding alcohol and caffeine
  • avoiding smoking
  • avoiding crossing your legs when you’re sitting down
  • taking a walk around the cabin regularly
  • standing in your seat area and stretching your arms and legs
  • doing regular foot and leg exercises during the flight
  • wearing loose fitting comfortable clothes when you’re travelling

If you recently had a DVT:

If you recently had a DVT but have been discharged from hospital and your condition is resolved you should be fit to fly. Please contact PMCU to advise if you need to get medical clearance.

collapsedshowDiabetes

If your diabetes is stable you can fly with no restrictions, however you need to take care that you look after yourself during your trip.

  • If you are crossing time zones make sure you know how to manage your insulin regime throughout the trip.
  • You should carry your insulin in your hand baggage otherwise it may freeze in the hold.
  • Your insulin should be in the original packaging, easily identifiable and accessible during the flight.
  • Always carry a prescription or supporting letter from your doctor to avoid delays at security or customs.
collapsedshowTravelling with medicines or medical equipment

Here's some key information for travelling with medicines or medical equipment. If you have any additional questions please contact PMCU.

  • Pack your medication in your hand baggage, if possible in its original packaging.
  • Always carry a prescription or supporting letter from your doctor to avoid delays at security or customs.
  • If you need to take any essential medical equipment with you that will exceed your baggage allowance, please contact PMCU to avoid being charged at the airport.
  • Please carry any liquid medication or syringes in your hand baggage with a copy of the prescription or letter from your doctor that confirms this medication is prescribed to you.
  • We cannot help you keep your medication cool. Please talk to your pharmacist about alternative options.
  • In most circumstances you can use authorised medical equipment on board, except during taxi, take-off, approach and landing.
  • All equipment must be able to work from a battery as we cannot guarantee a power supply on board.
Medical equipment Notes
Nebulisers
  • You can use a battery-operated nebuliser on board except during taxi, take-off, descent and landing.
  • It is not possible to supply mains power on board.
CPAP machines
  • You don't need medical clearance to travel with or use a CPAP machine for sleep apnoea.
  • You can use an adaptor to plug your machine into your in-seat power supply where available. However, we recommend using a dry cell battery in case the power point near your seat is not working.
  • The maximum output of our in-seat power supply is 75 Watt. If your machine needs a stronger output the power supply will automatically switch off.
  • If you need to use your CPAP machine on board you can take it with you as an additional item to your hand baggage allowance. However if you don't need to use it on board, it counts towards your hand baggage allowance. Alternatively, you can check it in at no additional charge. Just contact PMCU to authorise this as an additional 'checked baggage' item.

More about in-seat power (pdf; English only)

Portable dialysis machines 
  • You can usually take your portable dialysis machine with you on board as hand baggage but if it exceeds your hand baggage allowance you will need to check it in. This is free of charge.
Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POC)
  • You can take a portable oxygen concentrator (POC) on board as part of your hand baggage allowance as long as it's approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
  • If you think you'll need to use it during the flight, you will need to get medical clearance before you fly.
  • You should carry sufficient back up battery supply to cover a minimum of 150% of your entire travel time (including flight and transiting time).
  • If your device uses lithium batteries, it is important to provide us with the watt-hour (Wh) rating of each battery it contains. Sometimes this is provided as a wattage and amp-hour rating instead. The maximum battery size permitted is 160Wh each and you can take a maximum of two spare batteries in your hand baggage.
collapsedshowDisposal of medical equipment

If you need to dispose of needles, lancets, syringes or empty insulin cartridges on board please ask the cabin crew for the sharps box; do not leave the items in the toilets or seat pockets.

collapsedshowIn-flight oxygen
  • We can only provide in-flight oxygen to one person on board so if you need to use oxygen you must book it in advance. It's important to contact the Passenger Medical Clearance Unit to check availability prior to booking your flights. Please note we cannot provide oxygen on the ground at an airport.
  • On board our Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft we offer the Avia Technique Pulse dose cylinder. It uses less oxygen as it is provided ‘on demand’ but your doctor will need to confirm that you can use this.
  • There is no charge for in-flight oxygen.

To book in-flight oxygen, you need to get medical clearance.

collapsedshowFood allergies

In-flight meals

If you have a food allergy, we can offer special meals that exclude a variety of potential allergens, e.g. seafood, dairy and gluten. You can find out more about food allergens in our meals. You can also check the label on the packaging, or ask a member of your cabin crew.

To request a special meal go to Manage My Booking.

We're unable to heat or refrigerate any food items you might bring with you. If you prefer to consume your own food, we would suggest to opt for non-perishable food. Please also check the different quarantine laws of your transit and/or destination with respect to food types permitted into the country.

Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)

Severe allergic reactions on board are rare but if you suffer from a severe allergy always speak to your doctor before you book to discuss potential risks and how you can minimise becoming ill on your trip.

We cannot guarantee a nut-free cabin environment or prevent other passengers from bringing their own food on board. Meals containing tree nuts may continue to be served throughout the aircraft and tree nut based snacks may also continue to be served in other cabins of travel depending on the aircraft type. We use the recommendations of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for allergen-sensitive passengers to make sure your flight is as comfortable as we can make it.

Here are a few examples of how you can prepare:

  • Your epinephrine/adrenaline auto-injector should be carried in your hand baggage. This should be accompanied by a letter from your doctor or a copy of your prescription to present to airport security personnel.
  • If you have been prescribed an epinephrine/adrenaline auto-injector like Epipen, Anapen, Twinject or Jext make sure you carry this with you in your hand baggage. Take an emergency treatment plan and a letter signed by your doctor with you to minimise delays at airport security.
  • Clearly label your medication to show who it should be administered to.
  • You will be able to pre-board when you present your medical letter for the epinephrine/adrenaline auto-injector to staff at the gate. This will allow you to wipe down your seating area to help prevent inadvertent contact with peanut or tree nut traces. Passengers must bring their own suitable wipes.
  • When boarding the aircraft you must inform Cabin Crew of your severe peanut or tree nut allergy. If you request it, Cabin Crew will make an announcement so that other passengers are aware of your allergy. Cabin Crew will also suspend the serving of loose nut snacks in your cabin of travel.
  • Advise cabin crew and the people seated next to you of your allergy, where you have placed the medication and what to do in an emergency. Our cabin crew can speak to people seated near to you to help explain your allergy.
  • Ensure your medication is easily accessible throughout the flight, e.g. place it in the seat pocket or on you personally.
  • Cabin crew are trained to recognise symptoms of anaphylaxis and administer treatment but if you are travelling with family, friends or guardians they would be expected to treat you first.
  • Wear a medi-alert bracelet.

Anaphylaxis campaign website

collapsedshowSpraying the cabin

We are required by the World Health Organisation (WHO) or local Health Authorities to spray the inside of the aircraft before arrival into certain destinations to prevent the risk of insects spreading highly dangerous diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever.

On routes where we are required to spray, cabin crew will advise that spraying is about to take place. This will give you the opportunity to cover your eyes and nose if you wish. The spray clears from the aircraft in a few minutes.

Contents of the insecticides

The sprays contain synthetic pyrethroids, which are widely used. The World Health Organisation (WHO) assesses the safety of insecticides and recommends the use of the following synthetic pyrethroids:

  • D-phenothrin, which has lethal effects on domestic insect pests. It is used against mosquitoes, houseflies and cockroaches.
  • Permethrin, which is a broad spectrum insecticide used against a variety of pests.

Aircraft entering Australia and New Zealand need to be sprayed twice - initially with Permethrin residual insecticide and then with a Phenothrin spray.

British Airways flights that require disinsection

British Airways flights from:
Country Flights departing from
Algeria Algiers
Angola Luanda
Argentina Buenos Aires
Barbados Bridgetown**
Brazil Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo
China Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Shanghai
Costa Rica San Jose
Dominican Republic Punta Cana
Egypt Cairo
Ghana Accra
India Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai
Iran Tehran
Jamaica Kingston**
Kenya Nairobi
Korea, Republic of Seoul
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur
Mexico Cancun, Mexico City
Nigeria Abuja, Lagos
Peru Lima
Portugal Funchal*
Saudi Arabia Riyadh, Jeddah
South Africa Cape Town, Johannesburg
St Lucia St Lucia**
Thailand Bangkok
British Airways flights to:
Country Flights arriving into
Angola Luanda
Argentina Buenos Aires
Barbados Barbados
India Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai
Jamaica Kingston
Kenya Nairobi
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur
British Airways shuttle routes:
From To
Antigua Tobago
Grenada St Lucia
Muscat Abu Dhabi
Port of Spain St Lucia
Singapore Sydney
St Lucia Grenada
St Lucia Port of Spain
Tobago** Antigua

* Request from Madeira health authorities (2015) due possible Dengue fever risk
** Introduced due to the Zika virus risk (WHO guidance)

collapsedshowTravel vaccinations

Please check if you need any travel vaccinations for your destination before you travel. You can find more information about your country of travel and any medical information on the IATA Travel Centre.

In the UK, our preferred travel partner for health services is MASTA (Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad). They have the largest network of travel clinics across the UK and offer expert travel medicine advice and treatment, including a comprehensive immunisation service and a wide range of anti-malarial drugs.

MASTA website

BA Travel Clinics vaccination records

If you were vaccinated at one of our BA Travel Clinics before they closed in August 2006 and need a letter confirming your vaccination or a duplicate certificate of your Yellow Fever vaccination, please write to British Airways Health Services (see below address). Please note that we can only trace back vaccination information as far as 2002.

Please provide the following information:

For a letter confirming your vaccination: For a duplicate certificate of your Yellow Fever vaccination:
  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Contact number
  • Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope
  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Contact number
  • Month and year of your Yellow Fever vaccination
  • Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope

There's an administrative charge of £10 for this service,
which you need to pay by cheque made payable to
British Airways Health Services.

Address:

British Airways Health Services - Travel Clinic records
British Airways Plc
Waterside (HMAG)
PO Box 365
Harmondsworth
UB7 0GB