Flying While Pregnant

Pregnant woman looking at departure monitor

There are a lot of things you’re not allowed to do when you’re pregnant; drink alcohol, eat sushi, or change the kitty litter, just to name a few. Air travel places a couple more restrictions on pregnancy, but airlines are always willing to accommodate a pregnant traveler the best they can. There are certainly precautions that the mother-to-be can take as well.

The Mayo Clinic has a number of suggestions, a number of which experienced mothers would likely know but is nonetheless good information, especially for first-timers.

  • During the trip, fasten the lap belt under your abdomen.
  • Take occasional walks up and down the aisle. If you must remain seated, flex and extend your ankles often. Also, avoid wearing restrictive clothing. Use of compression stockings might help prevent blood clots.
  • Low humidity in the cabin can lead to dehydration, so drink plenty of fluids, even though this likely means you’ll have to get up often.
  • Entrapped gases expand at altitude, which can cause discomfort, so avoid gassy foods and drinks.

If you are beyond 30 weeks, it’s a good idea to have a contingency plan just in case medical care becomes necessary while on your trip. Many doctors recommend no travel after 32 weeks, but every woman is different and some may be able to travel into their ninth month. Each pregnancy is unique, however, so it’s a good idea to buy trip insurance if you’re traveling close to the due date.

what are the airline’s rules for Flying while pregnant?

Around the seven month mark is when mothers can expect to have to fly with a “permission slip” from their doctor, especially if your tummy gets big quicker than usual.

While similar, every airline has a slightly different policy when it comes to pregnant passengers. So here are the 15 most traveled airlines in North America, and each of their rules and regulations when it comes to traveling while pregnant.

  1. American Airlines – “Please remember that wheelchair assistance is at hand if you need additional help at the airport. International Flights: Please note that travel is not advised within 30 days of your due date. If you need to travel within 30 days of your baby’s due date, you will need to visit your doctor 48 hours or less prior to your flight to obtain written certification that you are medically fit for flying. The certificate will need to be presented at check-in. In addition, if you need to travel within 10 days of your baby’s due date, authorization from our Special Assistance Team must be obtained. North American Flights: Travel is permitted up to 7 days before your baby’s delivery date. A medical certificate is not necessary in an uncomplicated pregnancy. Please note that travel is not permitted within 7 days before or after your baby’s delivery date.”
  2. Delta Airlines – “Delta does not impose restrictions on flying for pregnant women, so a medical certificate is not required to travel. Keep in mind, however, that ticket change fees and penalties cannot be waived for pregnancy. If you’re traveling after your eight month, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to be sure travel is not restricted.”
  3. Southwest Airlines – “While air travel does not usually cause problems during pregnancy unless delivery is expected within 14 days or less, in some cases, traveling by air has been known to cause complications or premature labor. Female Customers at any stage of pregnancy should consult with their physicians prior to air travel. Southwest Airlines recommends against air travel beginning at the 38th week of pregnancy. Depending on their physical condition, strength, and agility, pregnant women may, in some cases, be asked not to sit in the emergency exit row.”
  4. United Airlines – “Any woman in the first eight months of pregnancy will be allowed to travel on a United flight without medical documentation. A woman traveling during her ninth month of pregnancy must have the original and two copies of an obstetrician’s certificate, which must be dated within three days (72 hours) prior to her flight departure. To best assure the pregnant traveler’s safety, it is preferable to have a certificate dated within one day of flight departure. The certificate must state that the obstetrician has examined the customer and found her to be physically fit for air travel between the specified dates. The estimated birth date of the baby must be after the date of the last flight on the itinerary. The customer should provide the original certificate to a United Representative at check-in. The remaining copies are for reference during air travel.”
  5. Air Canada – “Any woman with a normal pregnancy and no previous history of premature labour may travel up to and including her 36th week on Air Canada, Jazz and Air Canada coded flights operated by Tier 3 carriers.”
  6. JetBlue – JetBlue has no official information on their site regarding pregnant traveler policy. However, Kids On a Plane has this to say: Pregnant Passengers expecting to deliver within seven days are prohibited from travel, unless such Passenger provides a doctor’s certificate dated no more than seventy-two (72) hours prior to departure stating that the Doctor has examined and found the Passenger to be physically fit for air travel to and from the destinations requested on the date of the flight and that the estimated date of delivery is after the date of the last flight.
  7. Alaska Airlines – Alaska Airlines has no official information on their site regarding pregnant traveler policy. However, BabyCenter had this to say: No restrictions, but passengers are advised to consult a doctor.
  8. WestJet – “If you are an expectant mother more than 36 weeks into your pregnancy, we recommend that you check with your physician or midwife before travelling. We want you to be as safe and comfortable as possible during your journey with us — here are a few tips that we hope will help: You may select your seat in advance for a fee. Many expectant mothers reserve an aisle seat to easily access the lavatory and to allow movement during the flight. If you require a seat belt extender for comfort, just ask your flight attendant and they will provide one for you.”
  9. AeroMexico – “Medical Certificate or permission-to-travel dated within five days prior to flight for women traveling during the third trimester (30-37 weeks or seven months) or with a pregnancy considered high risk. Aeromexico does not accept passengers after the 38th week of pregnancy. Visibly pregnant women (regardless of the month of pregnancy) must sign a disclaimer at check-in.”
  10. Spirit Airlines – “Customers who are pregnant are urged to consult with their physician on whether it is safe to travel by air, including with due consideration the possibility of turbulence, cabin pressurization, significantly increased risk of deep vein thrombosis associated with pregnancy, and lack of ready access to medical care. This is particularly important for women in their ninth month of pregnancy, who are urged to obtain an examination from her physician shortly before flying to confirm that flying by air will be safe. Women with a history of complications or premature delivery should not fly at all. By travelling with Spirit, pregnant women acknowledge and accept these risks.”
  11. Frontier – lThe exact same wording as Spirit’s regulations.
  12. Volaris – “Traveling after 7 months (28 weeks) of pregnancy, or 7 days before your delivery, is not recommended. If you are traveling after 28 weeks of pregnancy, you must submit a medical certificate from your physician including the following: An authorization from your physician to travel during your flight dates. If not included, the letter is only valid up to 5 days after it was written. Your full name. Full name, professional license and telephone number of your physician.
  13. Hawaiian Airlines – ” If you are pregnant and in good health, not experiencing medical complications or distress and not planning to travel within seven days of your due date, then you’re good to fly with us. If you are not in good health or are in distress, then for your safety we may not allow you to board your flight. A Hawaiian Airlines airport customer service agent may consult our medical advisor to determine whether you’re fit to travel. If you’re traveling within the state of Hawaii and your travel date is within seven days of your due date, OR your baby is less than seven days old, you’ll need a medical certificate from your doctor to be permitted to fly on Hawaiian Airlines. If you’re traveling between Hawaii and North America or internationally and your travel date is within 30 days of your due date, your obstetrician will need to examine you within 48 hours of your scheduled departure and provide a written certification that you’re medically fit to travel. If your baby is less than seven days old, we’ll ask you to bring a medical certificate from your doctor.
  14. Allegiant Air – “We recommend that pregnant passengers consult a physician before flying. If pregnant passenger’s due date is within forty-five (45) days of travel, Allegiant requires a note from a physician. A woman who is pregnant will not necessarily need to occupy two seats if she can lower the armrest.”
  15. Virgin America – “If you’re expecting one baby and want to travel between your 28th and 36th weeks, we’ll need you to travel with a certificate from your Doctor. If you’re expecting more than one baby and want to travel between your 28th and 32nd weeks, again you’ll need to travel with Doctor’s certificate stating you’ve had no complications and your estimated delivery date. Either way the certificate should state that you have had no complications and your estimated delivery date. We don’t need to see this in advance, but it might be asked for at the airport or onboard. Travel may be delayed or denied if you don’t have your certificate available if asked.”

In addition to these airline policies, the TSA knows that X-rays of any sort are generally to be refrained from while pregnant. In order to ease concern, they have many rules and recommendations when it comes to going through security as an expectant mother. Their blog states that, “TSA’s Advanced Imaging Technology and walk through metal detector systems do not use X-rays to produce the image, but instead use non-ionizing electromagnetic waves that are reflected off the body.” If you are still concerned, they give the option of requesting a pat-down rather than going through the machine. If you have any further questions, the gate agent should be able to provide assistance.

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