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 information below 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

Step 1: Download our medical information form (pdf, 650kb, English only) and fill out part one.

Step 2: Ask your doctor to complete part two.

Step 3: Email the completed form (part one and part two) to pmcu.pmcu@ba.com. Our Passenger Medical Clearance Unit (PMCU) will be able to advise if you're fit to fly. Medical forms should be despatched to the medical clearance team a minimum of 7 days prior to departure. Contact details for our PMCU can be found below. 

Portable oxygen cylinder: If you are travelling 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. Email the completed form to pmcu.pmcu@ba.com Medical forms should be despatched to the medical clearance team a minimum of 7 days prior to departure. Contact details for our PMCU can be found below. 

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

Passenger Medical Clearance Unit (PMCU)

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

Office Opening Hours: Monday to Friday - 08:00 to 16:00, Closed - weekends and Bank Holidays

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

If you need to use medical equipment on board that contains batteries, there might be some restrictions. Please click the link for information regarding batteries; Liquids and Restrictions.

Travelling with other airlines

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:

We recommend you carry a letter or statement from your Doctor or Midwife confirming:

The letter should be dated as close to your travel date as possible and covers you for your entire journey (outbound and return), provided you do not require any medical care during your trip.

If you are travelling on a flight operated by Comair, you must carry this letter with you once your pregnancy has entered its 28th week.

It is not necessary to complete our medical form.

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.

Travel insurance

Our partner, Europ Assistance, offers COVID-19 travel insurance including medical emergencies and travel disruptions.

Find out more

Travel health information

Travelling with medicines, medical supplies or medical equipment

Here's some key information for travelling with medicines, medical supplies 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 needed to travel with or use a CPAP Machine for sleep apnoea on board our aircraft. However, we recommend that you carry a letter from a medical professional stating why you need the machine for your journey.
  • You can carry your device in the cabin as an extra piece of hand-baggage without charge.
  • If you don’t need to use your CPAP machine in the cabin, and you want to check it into the hold, it will be permitted in addition to your free baggage allowance without charge.
  • If you need to use your CPAP machine on board, you will need a DC adapter to plug into the in-seat power supply where installed. We recommend always carrying a dry cell battery for your device should seat power not be available.
  • The maximum output of our in-seat power supply is 75 watts. If your machine needs a stronger output, you will need to bring a dry cell battery to power it.

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 us to get 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.
  • If your reservation is booked through British Airways but is operated by another airline, please check their own criteria for accepting portable oxygen concentrators on-board.
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.

Food allergies

In-flight meals

We source food from all around the world and not every country considers the same food ingredients to be potential allergens. On UK-bound flights, allergen labelling on the packaging may not reflect all the allergens listed under UK legislation.

When booking travel, customers can order a special meal. However, note that staff (including call centre staff) are unable to share personal allergen information with cabin crew. When travelling with us, you must therefore inform your cabin crew of your food allergy upon boarding your flight.

To assist with food allergies

  1. If you have a food allergy, we can offer a range of special meals that exclude a variety of potential allergens e.g. seafood, dairy, eggs and gluten. Information on special meals can be found here.
  2. You can bring your own food on board.
  3. Upon request and following boarding, cabin crew will be able to provide information relating to the allergens contained within the meals served. In some instances, meal packaging will also provide this information.
  4. To allow for cleaning and inspection of seats, customers will be able to pre-board the aircraft following presentation of a medical letter for the epinephrine/adrenaline auto-injector to staff at the gate. Customers must bring their own suitable wipes.

Please note the following

  1. We cannot guarantee an allergen-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.
  2. We do not currently offer any special meals free from sesame, tree nuts, lupin, soya, sulphites, mustard or celery.
  3. For customers consuming food of their choice, not provided by the airline - we are unable to heat or refrigerate any food items you might bring with you. If you prefer to consume your own food, we suggest 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.

Guidance for Peanut, Tree Nut or Sesame allergy sufferers

  1. Our in-flight meals do not contain peanuts or peanut products. However, they may be produced at a facility that handles peanuts. We are unable to offer a peanut-free special meal.
  2. We do not provide a special meal option for customers with tree nut or sesame allergies.
  3. We cannot guarantee an allergen-free environment while travelling with us.
  4. Upon request, 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.

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.

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:

For flights to Australia, the aircraft must be sprayed prior to departure from Singapore with a Permethrin insecticide spray.

British Airways flights that require disinsection

BA Flights arriving into the UK which require disinsection
Country Flights departing from:
Algeria Algiers
Argentina Buenos Aires
Brazil Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo
China Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai
Costa Rica San Jose
Dominican Republic Punta Cana
Egypt Cairo
Ghana Accra
India Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai
Kenya Nairobi
Korea, Republic of Seoul
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur
Mexico Cancun, Mexico City
Nigeria Abuja, Lagos
Oman Muscat
Pakistan Islamabad
Peru Lima
Portugal Funchal*
Saudi Arabia Riyadh, Jeddah
South Africa Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg
Thailand Bangkok

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

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

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

Carriage of newborn and babies

Newborn with no medical complications

Normal Term: British Airways is able to carry new born children born at normal term (40 weeks) with no medical complications once they are more than 1 week old. These children need no prior medical clearance.

Premature Infants: British Airways is able to carry premature infants born at more than 37 weeks gestation, with no medical complications, once they have reached the normal delivery date (40 weeks) plus one week. These infants need no prior medical clearance.

Premature newborn and ex-premature infants

Children born at less than 37 weeks gestation that were born with no medical complications can be considered for carriage once they have reached normal term (40 weeks) plus one week, but they will require medical clearance until they reach 12 months old.

Children born at less than 37 weeks gestation that were born with any respiratory complications (e.g. neonatal chronic lung disease / bronchopulmonary dysplasia etc) cannot be considered for carriage until they have reached normal delivery date (40 weeks) plus 6 months. From normal term plus 6 months old until they reach their first birthday, they will require medical clearance.

In both cases please contact PMCU prior to booking.

Babies with medical conditions

Babies with any significant condition, such as cardiac disease, or any other condition requiring medical support, e.g. oxygen, medication, treatment during flight, should be discussed with PMCU prior to booking.

Please download the medical information form (pdf, 650kb, English only) and fill out.

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

10 days No
Appendectomy or abdominal keyhole surgery
5 days You should obtain a fit to fly letter from your treating doctor.
Heart conditions
Angioplasty If the procedure went well you can usually fly after 3 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 10 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 (14 days if traumatic pneumothorax). 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 5 - 14 days. If you had a stroke within 14 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 gas introduced into your eye 2-6 weeks to allow any gas to be reabsorbed) 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 8.5g/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.
Sickle cell disease 10 days
Contact PMCU

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

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.

Broken bone

Medical condition You can travel after: Do you need to contact us?
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

There are no restrictions travelling with a shoe boot.

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 (or seats) with moveable armrests so you can elevate your leg. Typically a child would require one extra seat, and an adult would require two extra seats.

In some circumstances these restrictions may not apply so please contact our PMCU to discuss your individual situation.

Communicable and contagious diseases

The following illnesses can be contagious, we’ve put together some guidance on when you can travel.

Chickenpox 6 days after the last crop of spots providing the spots have crusted/scabbed over and the passenger feels well and has no fever. You will require a letter from your Doctor confirming you are no longer contagious.
Cholera When your symptoms have settled, you feel well enough to travel and the public heath authority in your destination country agrees you are fit to travel.
Hepatitis A When you feel well enough to travel.
Measles 5 days after the rash first appeared - you will require a letter from your Doctor stating you are no longer contagious.
Mumps 8 days after the swelling began. You must feel well and have no fever.
Shingles If lesions are covered with a dressing. You must be well with no fever and any pain must be well controlled.
Tuberculosis If medical evidence proves you are not infectious.
Flu Once your symptoms have resolved.

In-flight oxygen

Short haul flights

(including connecting flights to and from long haul segments)

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 sent to the team a minimum of 7 days prior to departure.

Disposal of used medical supplies

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