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Can pregnant women travel on airplanes? A quick guide for mothers in the UK and alternative flying options to consider.

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Can pregnant women travel on airplanes? A quick guide for mothers in the UK and alternative flying options to consider.

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Pregnancy is wonderful news for many parents. However, along with the excitement comes a whole new set of responsibilities. With this huge change in their body, expectant mothers have to be more careful to protect both themselves and the baby. Is it possible to travel in such conditions?

As a general rule, flying before the 36th week of pregnancy is allowed provided that the pregnancy is a healthy one. Nonetheless, there are more variables that must be taken into consideration. Are you travelling long haul or short haul? What is your medical condition? What about airline regulations?

Understanding Commercial airline regulations for pregnant women

Before making any travel plans, it is important to consult your doctor and apprise him of the situation. Based on your condition, he will advise you as to whether the journey will be safe for you. It is strongly recommended to take your doctor’s advice into consideration and to request a note certifying that it is safe for you to travel if that is the case. Depending on the airlines via which you will be travelling, this note might be mandatory. 

pregnant woman in airplane

Commercial airlines have varying regulations when it comes to flying while pregnant. If you are travelling with British Airways, you will not be able to fly after the 36th week if you are carrying one baby and after the 32nd week if twins are on the way. Moreover, a medical certificate is required from the 28th week. Emirates has similar rules with the medical certificate being requested after the 29th week. A letter signed by the doctor is accepted, subject to it indicating that the pregnancy is either simple or multiple, a healthy one and that the mother is fit-to-fly. Nonetheless, the airline company reserves the right to refuse access if it has any doubt about the mother’s condition. 

Disclaimer: This article was written in the month of April 2022 at which time, the above-mentioned regulations were effective. These are subject to change depending on the airline company. As such it is advised to always look into your commercial airline company’s regulations about travelling while being pregnant before booking a ticket. 

Are there any risks when flying while pregnant? 

Even after the approval of their doctor, pregnant women must take into consideration certain risks while flying. The following are some concerns: 

  • Body scan: The scanning technology used in airports is generally considered to be safe during pregnancy. However, you can request a hand or wand search if you are concerned. 
  • Radiation might become a problem if you are a frequent flyer. Ask your doctor about the radiation limit for a safe pregnancy. 
  • Blood pressure and heart rate: An increase in blood pressure and heart rate might occur during the flight. However, experts advance that it is not a serious threat. 
  • Blood clots and DVT: Sitting still for a long period of time, combined with the recirculated cabin air and low humidity will increase the risk of blood clots occurring, which can lead to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). The risk is exacerbated if you are flying long-distance.
  • Complications occurring mid-air: In case of an emergency occurring during the flight, a specialist will not be available to provide the appropriate treatment. 

pregnant woman in airplane

Flying during high-risk pregnancies is not advised in certain conditions

There are certain conditions that preclude expectant mothers from travelling. High-risk pregnancies and other complications would result in a dangerous airplane trip that doctors advise against. A long-haul flight is discouraged in the case of:

  • Vaginal bleeding,
  • High blood pressure,
  • Cervical problems,
  • Gestational diabetes,
  • pre-eclampsia,
  • a prior miscarriage,
  • a prior ectopic pregnancy,
  • a prior premature labour,
  • Placental abnormalities.

It is also advised not to fly if you are expecting more than one baby or if you are 35 years or above and pregnant for the first time. 

So what options are available for pregnant passengers? 

Medical Repatriation UK offers a medical escort for pregnant women

To reduce the risks and stress of flying while being pregnant, expectant mothers can fly with one of Medical Repatriation UK’s medical escorts. Being a medical flight service provider, we give those who are allowed to fly on a scheduled airliner the opportunity to be accompanied by a doctor or paramedic to make sure that their flight during their pregnancy is completely safe. 

Our medical escort is a trained physician and an expert in delivering care and treatment mid-air. For pregnant women, we are going to make sure that the traveller is accompanied by a physician specialising in the area of obstetrics. As such, he will be able to supervise the mother’s condition and provide emergency care and treatment in case complications arise. 

A medical escort is perfect for pregnant women who have apprehensions about flying. Stress and the strains of travelling can cause their blood pressure to increase, leading to other complications. A medical escort will offer the necessary reassurances needed to keep the traveller relaxed throughout the flight. 

Air ambulances enable flying during high-risk pregnancies 

In many cases, UK citizens and residents find themselves being stuck abroad while being pregnant. Some case scenarios might be: an unexpected complication occurring while you were on a holiday or business trip, being unable to travel because of airline regulations, not being fit enough to fly on a commercial plane or even not feeling strong enough to endure the stress of waiting for hours to check-in, board the plane and wait during transits. 

ambulance jet

Getting back home to the UK where you can obtain first-class treatment might be essential depending on your condition. In this situation, you can opt for medical repatriation and travel via the air ambulances of Medical Repatriation UK. These are medical flights that are fitted with state-of-the-art medical equipment to provide necessary care and treatment to pregnant mothers en route. They will be accompanied by doctors and paramedics who are experts in the field to ensure their safety. 

Medical Repatriation UK can even cater to the demands of high-risk pregnancies. Enable to transport ICU patients, we can customise our aircraft based on your situation to ensure your safety and get you back to your loved ones and to quality medical care quickly. Our air ambulances can usually be made available on the same or following day of the booking being made. As such, there are no constraints of flight availability or waiting for days before the departure date. 

Our air ambulances can pick you from or take you to any country across the globe, even the most remote locations. 

Contact us if you need to fly while being pregnant

If you need to travel while pregnant, get in touch with us. We have a team of aviation experts available round the clock to advise you. Whether you need a medical escort to accompany you on a commercial flight, or air ambulance in the case of a high-risk pregnancy, we will devise a solution for you and offer a free non-binding quotation. Get in touch with them by: