This is an important topic where lots of pregnant women are confused about what to do and what not to. This write up might be useful to all the pregnant women who are considering air travel. 

Target audience:

Those who are planning to travel short haul of less than 4 hours or long haul of more than 4 hours.

Is air travel harmful to the baby?

  • It is not proven that changes in air pressure, traveling with jet speed or flying at the usual passenger aircraft altitude have any deleterious effect on the growing baby in your uterus. 
  • Cosmic radiation and ultraviolet radiation have not found to be adversely affecting mother or fetus in any way. 

Safest time to travel:

  • You can safely travel till 34 weeks of pregnancy; few airlines allow you to travel till 36 weeks also. If you have twin or triplet babies, it is generally considered safe to travel by air only till 32 to 34 weeks of pregnancy. 
  • These recommendations are meant for uncomplicated pregnancies. A gynaecologist should be consulted for complicated pregnancies. 

Important point to note here is that you should never get into any argument with the airline staff to travel beyond the allowed weeks of pregnancy as it depends upon their capability of responding to any kind of obstetric emergency, if needed.  

What can be problematic while I travel?     

  • Your morning sickness can aggravate, more so if you are on medication for the same.
  • Pedal swelling may appear or it may increase.
  • You may experience nasal stuffiness, blocked ears or dizziness at the time of landing or take off due changes in cabin pressure.
  • Humidity levels in flight are close to 15%. Though it cannot cause dehydration, but it is imperative to keep yourself hydrated while air travel.
  • Never use a tight safety belt. Always ask for an extension to accommodate your growing belly.

Concern of Deep Vein Thrombosis:

It is a well known fact that prolonged stagnation causes blood stasis and may cause clot formation in lower limbs. This phenomenon is exaggerated in pregnancy and in patients with history of deep vein thrombosis. But there is nothing to be worried about. Following precautions need to be taken:

  • Keep taking any medicines prescribed by your gynaecologist.
  • Preferably take an aisle seat to facilitate ease of movement.
  • Keep moving your arms, knees and feet at regular intervals.
  • Make a point to walk around the cabin frequently when the safety crew allows you to do so.       
  • Reduce coffee and tea intake.
  • You are recommended to wear graduated stockings over both lower limbs on long haul flights of more than 4 hours and if specially advised by your gynaecologist.  

Concern regarding body scanners and X-Rays in airports:

  • Body scanners are not harmful to the fetus or the mother and also, they do not increase risk of having any complication in pregnancy. 
  • Please tell the airport staff regarding your pregnancy if you are subjected to separate X-rays installed at some airports. Though they are not proven to cause any problems in mother or the baby as they contain very low dose of the radiation; but still it’s recommended to avoid them. 


RCOG scientific impact paper 2013

WHO safe air travels for pregnant women