International travel and health

Contraindications to air travel

Travel by air is normally contraindicated in the following cases:

  • Infants less than 48 h old.
  • Women after the 36th week of pregnancy (32nd week for multiple pregnancies).
  • Those suffering from:
    • angina pectoris or chest pain at rest;
    • any active communicable disease;
    • decompression sickness after diving;
    • increased intracranial pressure due to haemorrhage, trauma or infection;
    • infections of the sinuses or of the ear and nose, particularly if the Eustachian tube is blocked;
    • recent myocardial infarction and stroke (elapsed time since the event depending on severity of illness and duration of travel);
    • recent surgery or injury where trapped air or gas may be present, especially abdominal trauma and gastrointestinal surgery, craniofacial and ocular injuries, brain operations, and eye operations involving penetration of the eyeball;
    • severe chronic respiratory disease, breathlessness at rest, or unresolved pneumothorax;
    • sickle-cell anaemia;
    • psychotic illness, except when fully controlled.

The above list is not comprehensive, and fitness for travel should be decided on a case-by-case basis.