Is it safe to fly while pregnant?

It's normally safe to fly while you're pregnant. However, some airlines will not let you fly towards the end of your pregnancy, so you should check what your airline's policy is.

Blood clots (thrombosis)

Long distance travel (longer than five hours) carries an increased risk of blood clots (thrombosis), although it's not clear if the risk is higher if you're pregnant.

For most people, wearing correctly fitted compression stockings can reduce the risk. If you're pregnant, wearing these stockings will reduce leg swelling. You can buy these over the counter in a pharmacy.

When to travel

Some women prefer not to travel in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy because of the exhaustion and nausea they experience in this early stage. The risk of miscarriage is also higher in this stage of pregnancy.

However, if you feel well and have discussed it with your GP, there's no reason why you can't travel during this time. 

Most airlines will not allow you to travel after week 36 of pregnancy, or week 32 if you're pregnant with twins or multiples.

Before you travel

If you're planning on travelling by plane, you should discuss this with your midwife or GP.

Before you book your tickets, check with your airline and insurance company that they will allow you to travel while pregnant. After week 28 of the pregnancy, most airlines require a letter from your midwife or GP confirming:

  • that you're in good health
  • that you have a normal pregnancy
  • the expected date of delivery

Be aware that your GP may charge you for the letter. Your GP surgery can give you more information about what their charges are.

Some airlines may require medical clearance if:

  • your delivery date is less than four weeks after your departure date, or 
  • any complications are expected in your delivery

This may involve your GP or midwife filling in a form or an assessment by the airline staff. Check with your airline as the restrictions can vary. 

During your flight

Below are some tips to help you have a healthy and comfortable flight:

  • drink plenty of water to stay hydrated  
  • do calf exercises  most airlines provide information about these  
  • don't sit still for a long time  walk around the aircraft when possible    
  • wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes 
  • adjust your seatbelt so the strap lies below your bump

Your destination

If you're planning a trip abroad, you should think about your destination:

  • could you get medical help if you needed it  see healthcare abroad for more information 
  • do you need any vaccinations and are these safe to have while you're pregnant  see travel vaccinations for more information 
  • if you're travelling to Europe, make sure you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which entitles you to free treatment while abroad

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 07/03/2013

Next review due: 06/03/2015