Air travel in pregnancy – airline policies

How late in pregnancy can you fly? And is it safe to fly when pregnant? We've rounded up the major airlines' policies for flying when pregnant

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Can I fly when I’m pregnant?

In most cases – yes, it is totally safe to fly during pregnancy. Lots of mums choose not to during the first 12 weeks because that’s usually when you’re most tired and nauseous – and when the risk of miscarriage is highest. But there is no reason not to, if you’ve discussed it with your midwife or doctor beforehand.

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If you’re having an uncomplicated pregnancy, most airlines will allow you to fly up to 36 weeks if you’re pregnant with 1 child. And if you’re pregnant with twins or more, 32 weeks. That means you’ll need to have flown home on your return flight while still 36 weeks (32 for twins or more). We’ve given an overview of major airlines’ requirements below.

And, after 28 weeks, most airlines will require you to have a doctor’s note, or to let customer services know when booking.

Is there a difference between how late in pregnancy you can fly on a short-haul flight compared to a long-haul?

The rule used to be different depending on your length of flight. And it still is for some airlines (see below). But now, most don’t differentiate between the two.

One thing to keep in mind is that long-haul flights carry a bigger risk of deep vein thrombosis, or blood clots. The NHS says it is unclear whether or not pregnant women are at higher risk or not – but advises that you wear compression stockings on flights.

Getting a doctor’s certificate

After you’re around 28 weeks, most airlines will want you to carry a note from your midwife, usually stating the following:

  • Your due date
  • That you have had an uncomplicated pregnancy
  • That you are fit to fly.

The letter usually has to be on hospital letterhead. Some airlines require this letter to be from a doctor – in that case, you can call your GP surgery and request one. Often, you don’t have to go in. Your GP will go off your notes and write the letter for you to collect from the surgery.

Some airlines have forms that you will need to print out and give to your medical practitioner to fill out. We’ve given an overview below to help you.

As with all this information, double-check with the airline before you book any tickets, as policies do change.

British Airways

Single pregnancy: In uncomplicated pregnancies, you can fly with BA up until you’re 36 weeks pregnant.

Multiple pregnancy: In uncomplicated pregnancies, up to 32 weeks.

Do I need a doctor’s note? After 28 weeks, the airline recommends you carry a letter from your doctor or midwife, dated as close to your flight as possible, confirming:

  • Whether your pregnancy is single or multiple
  • Estimated date of delivery
  • That there are no complications with the pregnancy and that you are in good health and fit to fly.

Ryanair

Single pregnancy: In uncomplicated pregnancies, you can fly with Ryanair up until you’re 36 weeks pregnant.

Multiple pregnancy: In uncomplicated pregnancies, up to 32 weeks.

Do I need a doctor’s note? Yes – from 28 weeks. You can download the form from Ryanair’s website for your doctor or midwife to fill out. You need to confirm:

  • The estimated date of delivery
  • That there are no complications with the pregnancy
  • That they are in good health and fit to fly.
  • This must be dated within 2 weeks of your booked flight.

EasyJet

Single pregnancy: In uncomplicated pregnancies, you can fly with EasyJet up to the end of your 35th week.

Multiple pregnancy: In uncomplicated pregnancies, you can fly until your 32nd week.

Do I need a doctor’s note? While Easyjet don’t require you to bring a doctor’s note or certificate, if you have experienced any complications in your pregnancy, it says you should consult your medical practitioner before flying.

TUI

Single pregnancy: In uncomplicated pregnancies, return travel with TUI must be completed by the time you’re 36 weeks pregnant.

Multiple pregnancy: If you’re pregnant with twins or more, the rule is that your return flight must be completed by 32 weeks.

Do I need a doctor’s note? If you’re planning to fly after 28 weeks – including your return flight – you’ll need to tell TUI’s customer services team. You’ll also need your doctor or midwife to write you a fit to fly letter, dated within 14 days before your departure date.

Virgin Atlantic

Single pregnancy: For uncomplicated pregnancies, your return flight must be completed by the time you’re 36 weeks pregnant. After this time, Virgin will only fly you for urgent or compassionate reasons and if their medical team approves.

Multiple pregnancy: For pregnancies with no complications, you need to have completed the return flight by your 32nd week of pregnancy. If you want to travel after that, you will need to contact Virgin, they will only allow it in a few cases.

Do I need a doctor’s note? Yes, from 28 weeks pregnant or more. You’ll need a certificate from your doctor stating you have had no complications and your due date.

Emirates

Single pregnancy: In an uncomplicated pregnancy, you can fly up to 36 weeks. In some cases, Emirates will let you fly after this time if you contact them in advance and they clear it with Emirates medical services.

Multiple pregnancy: In an uncomplicated pregnancy, you can fly up to 32 weeks. Like with a single pregnancy, if you want to fly after this time, you must contact Emirates and they may let some people in special circumstances.

Do I need a doctor’s note? From your 29th week, you’ll need a medical certificate or letter signed by a doctor or midwife is required, stating:

  • Whether it is a single or multiple pregnancy
  • That the pregnancy has no complications
  • Estimated due date
  • Date up to which you are fit to travel
  • That you are healthy
  • That the doctor / midwife knows no reason that you shouldn’t fly

If you don’t carry this note from your 29th week onward, Emirates won’t allow you to fly.

Qantas

Qantas has different rules depending on whether the flight is longer or shorter than 4 hours.

Single pregnancy: If you’re having an uncomplicated pregnancy, and the flight is less than 4 hours, you can fly until your 40th week. If the flight is longer than 4 hours, you can fly until your 36th week if your pregnancy has no complications.

Multiple pregnancy: If you’re having an uncomplicated pregnancy, and the flight is less than 4 hours, you can fly until your 36th week. If the flight is longer than 4 hours, you can fly until your 32nd week as long as your pregnancy has no complications.

Do I need a doctor’s note? From 28 weeks onward, you will need to carry a letter from a doctor or a midwife confirming:

  • Your estimated due date
  • Whether it is a single or multiple pregnancy
  • That your pregnancy has no complications.

If you do have complications with your pregnancy, the airline will have to clear you before you book your tickets.

Jet2

Single pregnancy: You can fly until the end of your 35th week.

Multiple pregnancy: You can fly until the end of your 33rd week.

Do I need a doctor’s note? Yes – from the end of your 27th week. It must be dated within 7 days of the outbound flight and 16 days of the inbound flight, and it must confirm:

  • The stage of your pregnancy
  • That you are fit to fly.

KLM

Single pregnancy: You can fly until your 36th week.

Multiple pregnancy: If you are expecting more than 1 baby, KLM requires you to contact your doctor first.

Do I need a doctor’s note? You need to have a doctor’s note – at any stage – if it is a multiple pregnancy. You will also need a note if you have had any complications during your pregnancy, single or multiple.

Etihad

Single pregnancy: Until 36 weeks.

Multiple pregnancy: Until 32 weeks.

Do I need a doctor’s note? In a single pregnancy, from weeks 29 to 36, you will require a medical certificate to fly. In a multiple, from weeks 29 to 32, you will require a medical certificate to fly. Etihad have created a form you can print and get filled out by your doctor or midwife. It should be given to staff at the airport and include the following information:

  • Whether the pregnancy is single or multiple
  • Be issued and signed by your doctor or midwife within the gestation period considered acceptable for travel
  • Be issued on clinic or hospital letter headed paper or stamped
  • Be valid for 3 weeks from the date of issue
  • Written clearly in English or Arabic (other languages are accepted but must be verified by Etihad Airways check-in staff).

Qatar Airways

Single pregnancy: You can fly up to 35 weeks, as long as you’re having an uncomplicated pregnancy.

Multiple pregnancy: You can fly up until 31 weeks, as long as your pregnancy has no complications.

Do I need a doctor’s note? Yes – from 28 weeks onward. It must be dated within 10 days of travel and include:

  • Your name and date of birth
  • Your estimated due date
  • Proposed dates of air travel
  • Confirmation of an uncomplicated single pregnancy or a multiple or complicated pregnancy
  • Confirmation that you are “fit to travel” for the entire journey, including the return
  • Date, stamp and contact details of a qualified doctor

Lufthansa

Single pregnancy: For uncomplicated pregnancies, you can fly up until the end of the 36th week of pregnancy – or 4 weeks before the baby’s due date.

Multiple pregnancy: You may fly up to the end of your 28th week of pregnancy.

Do I need a doctor’s note? Yes – your doctor will need to fill out this form. They want confirmation that:

  • The pregnancy has no complications
  • Your due date
  • That your doctor believes that your pregnancy shouldn’t prevent you from flying

Flybe

Single pregnancy: Up to 33 weeks

Multiple pregnancy: You need to contact specialassistance@flybe.com to get permission if you’re pregnant with twins or more.

Do I need a doctor’s note? After 28 weeks, you need a medical certificate. It will be valid for 3 weeks after you get it.

Sometimes you will be able to travel when you’re 34 weeks onward, on Blue Islands routes. You must contact specialassistance@flybe.com a minimum of 48 hours before you are due to fly to get permission.

Singapore Airlines

Single pregnancy: In uncomplicated pregnancies, up to 36 weeks.

Multiple pregnancy: In uncomplicated pregnancies, up to 32 weeks.

Do I need a doctor’s note? A medical certificate must be presented for your flight – outbound or inbound – if it is scheduled beyond the 28th week of your pregnancy.

Air Canada

Single pregnancy: If you are having a normal pregnancy and have no history of premature labour, Air Canada will let you fly up until and including your 36th week.

Do I need a doctor’s note? Air Canada doesn’t say so on its website, but it might be wise to have one if you’re over 28 weeks anyway, just in case.

Air France

Single /multiple pregnancy: No rules as such, but it says “Avoid travel starting from week 37 of your pregnancy and during the 7 days following childbirth.”

Do I need a doctor’s note? It doesn’t require one, but it might be wise to get one when you’re 28 weeks and over, just in case.

Aer Lingus

Single pregnancy: For flights within Europe, you can fly up until your 36th week. For international flights, your 34th week.

Multiple pregnancy: There isn’t a separate rule for women pregnant with multiples.

Do I need a doctor’s note? Yes – if you’re 28 weeks pregnant or more, download Aer Lingus’ form and give it to your doctor to fill out and then submit it here.

American Airlines

Single pregnancy: Until 36 weeks.

Multiple pregnancy: There is no separate rule for multiple pregnancies.

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Do I need a doctor’s note? If your due date is within 4 weeks of your flight, you must provide a doctor’s note saying that you’ve been recently examined and you’re fit to fly.

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