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Is air travel safe in pregnancy?

Updated: Apr 24, 2019

If your pregnancy is smooth sailing, plane travel is safe.

This must be the most frequent question that my patient asks me. Can I fly in pregnancy?

The answer is not straight forward though. A lot depends on your gestation period and pregnancy history. After 12 weeks, flying is not contraindicated in an uncomplicated pregnancy. However, air travel entails certain risks and should only be undertaken with proper planning and the approval of your obstetrician. So, do check with your doctor who would need to issue an air-travel letter to state that you are safe for air-travel till 35 weeks.

Domestic travel is usually permitted by the airline till 36 weeks gestation whereas international travel may be curtailed after 34 weeks. This is due to the risk of preterm delivery at that gestation which may be induced by air-travel.

If your pregnancy is complicated with problems like bleeding, low placenta or twin, I would advise against air travel if possible. It is also better to err on side of caution. So do a staycation instead.

Traveling should be done mostly in the second trimester when the pregnant woman is more comfortable and the risk of miscarriage and preterm delivery are lowest. Discuss your trip plans with your doctor before booking your flight.

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