Can I travel on a plane if I have a plaster cast?

It's best to check with your travel operator or airline.

Some airlines require you to wait 24 hours after a plaster cast has been fitted for flights less than 2 hours, and 48 hours for longer flights.

This is because there's a risk of swelling after a plaster cast is first fitted, which can affect your circulation.

If you're planning to fly with a newly fitted plaster cast, you may need to have it split.

This is done to prevent swelling and reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and compartment syndrome, a potentially serious condition caused by swelling.

Make sure you tell the healthcare team treating you if you're going to be flying soon.

You may need to have your cast replaced when you reach your destination and split again before you fly home.

If both your legs are in plaster, it's unlikely that you'll be able to fly. Contact your travel operator or airline for advice.

Your seat on the plane

If you have an upper body cast or your leg is in a plaster cast below your knee and you can bend your knee, you'll be able to sit in a normal seat.

If your plaster cast covers your knee, you won't be able to bend it, so you'll need to make special seating arrangements with your airline.

Many airlines will require you to purchase additional seats in these circumstances.

You won't be able to sit by one of the emergency exits, where the seats have more leg room, unless you're able to move easily in an emergency.

Wheelchair help

If you have a cast on your leg and need a wheelchair to get around the airport and board the plane, tell your airline as soon as possible.

They can arrange for a wheelchair to meet you at both ends of your journey. There's usually no additional charge for this service.

Using crutches

If you're using crutches to support your weight, you need to tell your airline.

Most airlines will let you take your crutches on the plane, but they'll need to be stored in the hold during the flight.

Read the answers to more questions about travel health.

Further information

Page last reviewed: 24/09/2018
Next review due: 24/09/2021