Medical conditions and pregnancy

White cross on green background.

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.

Medical clearance - am I fit to fly?

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

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.

If you are travelling after 1 February 2018, on a short-haul European flight, and require the use of your own portable oxygen cylinder (weighing less than 5kgs) you also need to download and complete the attached form (pdf, 25kb, English only). Then return this together with your medical information form to the Passenger Medical Clearance Unit.

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.

Contact the Passenger Medical Clearance Unit (PMCU)

British Airways and OpenSkies have a dedicated Passenger Medical Clearance team who process all completed medical paperwork. They will assess your fitness to fly and advise accordingly.

Passenger Medical Clearance Unit contact details
Telephone + 44 (0) 20 8738 5444
Fax + 44 (0) 20 8738 9644
Email Email the Passenger Medical Clearance Unit

Contact the British Airways Safety team

If your medical equipment contains batteries there may be restrictions that apply. British Airways has a dedicated Safety Team that will advise whether your electrical medical equipment can be carried on the aircraft. If you're flying on OpenSkies, please contact OpenSkies direct.

Safety team contact details
Telephone + 44 (0) 20 8738 8357
Fax + 44 (0) 20 8738 9313
Email

Email the Safety team

Travel health information

Flying 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 If you had surgery within 4 weeks of travel contact PMCU.

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.

Travellers' 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:

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:

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.

Diabetes

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.

Travel advice from Diabetes UK

Travelling 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.

Medical equipment Notes
Asthma inhalers
  • You can take asthma inhalers in your hand or checked baggage.
CPAP machines
  • Medical clearance is not required to travel with or use a CPAP Machine for sleep apnoea. The device can be carried in your hand-luggage, and forms part of your two-piece hand baggage allowance.
  • You will require an adapter to plug your machine into the in-seat power supply where available. However, we recommend using a dry cell battery for any critical medical equipment in case the power point near your seat is not working.
  • The maximum output of our in-seat power supply is 75watts. If your machine needs a stronger output the power supply will automatically switch off.
  • If using your CPAP machine on-board (and you have the appropriate battery, or access to in-seat power) this can be carried in the cabin in addition to your two-piece hand baggage allowance. If you won't be using your machine, and want to carry it on-board then it forms part of your two-piece hand baggage allowance.
  • If you wish to check-in your CPAP machine, you'll need to present your doctor's letter, which describes what you are carrying, to airport check-in staff to avoid excess charges.

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

Gas cylinders for mechanical limbs
  • You can take non-flammable, non-toxic gas cylinders worn for the operation of mechanical limbs in either your hand or your checked baggage. If required, you can also take spare cylinders of a similar size to ensure you have an adequate supply during your journey.
Epipens and hypodermic needles
  • You can take epipens and hypodermic needles in your hand baggage (with a doctor's note/prescription) or in your checked baggage.
Liquid medication
  • You can take liquid medication in your hand or checked baggage.

  • If you might need it during your journey, place it in your hand baggage. You can then carry as much as you need for your trip, even if this exceeds the usual limit on liquids, provided you have a supporting prescription or doctor’s note. The medicine does not need to fit in the transparent bag but you should have it ready for inspection by airport security.

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.
Oxygen cylinders
  • We will only carry personal oxygen or air, gaseous, cylinders required for medical use if we're unable to provide the required flow rate on board. To take these items with you, you need to get medical clearance before you fly.

  • If you'd like to take oxygen cylinders for use at your destination, you will need to contact our Safety Team for approval.

  • Once approved, you can carry oxygen or air cylinders of max. 5kg gross weight in your hand or checked baggage.

  • Liquid oxygen systems are forbidden for transport.

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 medical electronic devices containing lithium ion/metal batteries (e.g. defibrillators)

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.
Radioisotopic cardiac pacemakers and radiopharmaceuticals
  • You can only carry radioisotopic cardiac pacemakers or other devices (incl. those powered by lithium batteries) when implanted into your person or fitted externally, or radiopharmaceuticals contained within your body as the result of medical treatment. It is not possible to carry these items separately in your hand or checked baggage.

Tablets and capsules

  •  You can take tablets and capsules in your hand baggage (with a doctor's note/prescription) or in your checked baggage.

Disposal 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.

In-flight oxygen

Short haul flights

(including connecting flights to and from long haul segments)

 

Short haul flights departing before 1 February 2018:

 

We can provide in-flight therapeutic 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.

There is no charge for in-flight therapeutic oxygen.

If therapeutic oxygen is required, customers will need to obtain medical clearance in advance to fly. Medical forms should be despatched to the team a minimum of 7 days prior to departure.

Short haul flights departing on or after 1 February 2018:

British Airways will no longer be able to provide therapeutic oxygen on short-haul flights for flights departing on or after 1 February 2018. This also includes short haul segments connecting to and from long haul flights.

Customers requiring therapeutic oxygen on short haul flights will be required to make their own provisions for all short haul segments of their itinerary. Acceptable therapeutic oxygen provisions are outlined below. Customers need to obtain medical clearance for approval of their own therapeutic oxygen provisions. Medical forms should be despatched to the medical clearance team a minimum of 7 days prior to departure.

Acceptable therapeutic oxygen provisions:

Portable Oxygen Concentrators

Oxygen Cylinders

Long haul flights

We can only provide in-flight therapeutic 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: Oxygen is provided ‘on demand’ and your Doctor will need to confirm that you can use this.

There is no charge for in-flight therapeutic oxygen.

If therapeutic oxygen is required, you will need medical clearance to fly. Please allow the medical clearance team 48 hours to process your request. Medical forms should be despatched to the team a minimum of 7 days prior to departure.

Food 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:

Anaphylaxis campaign website

Spraying 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:

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

BA Flights arriving into the UK which require disinsection
Country Flights departing from:
Algeria Algiers
Angola Luanda
Argentina Buenos Aires
Brazil Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo
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
Kenya Nairobi
Korea, Republic of Seoul
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur
Mexico Cancun, Mexico City
Nigeria Abuja, Lagos
Oman Muscat
Peru Lima
Portugal Funchal*
Saudi Arabia Riyadh, Jeddah
South Africa Cape Town, Johannesburg
Thailand Bangkok

* Request from Madeira health authorities (2015) due possible Dengue fever risk

BA Flights departing from the UK which require disinsection
Flights to: Flights arriving at:
Angola Luanda
Argentina Buenos Aires
Barbados Barbados
India Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai
Jamaica Kingston
Kenya Nairobi
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur
BA Shuttle routes outside the UK which require disinsection
Flights departing from: Flights arriving at:
Antigua Tobago
Grenada St Lucia
Port of Spain St Lucia
Singapore Sydney
St Lucia Grenada
St Lucia Port of Spain

Travel 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