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Medical Reasons For Not Fit To Fly Certificates: What You Need To Know

Planning a trip can be stressful, especially if you have health issues. Some airlines ask for a “fit to fly” note if you’re ill. This blog will guide you through getting that medical green light to travel.

Keep reading to make your journey smoother.

What Does “Fit to Fly” Mean?

Moving on from the introduction, “Fit to Fly” refers to medical approval for air travel. It means a doctor has checked you and found you healthy enough to fly on an airplane. Airlines often need this proof if you have a health issue.

They want to make sure your condition won’t get worse up in the air where it’s hard to get quick medical help.

Some health problems can be risky during flights because of cabin pressure and oxygen levels. If you have heart trouble, lung problems like asthma or COPD, are very pregnant, or just had major surgery, airlines might ask for a “Fit to Fly” certificate.

This document is your doctor’s way of saying you’re safe to travel by plane without needing extra medical care during the flight. Getting this certificate involves checking with your doctor and understanding airline rules about flying with medical conditions.

Medical Conditions That May Prevent You From Flying

Some medical conditions prevent flying due to health risks.

Conditions that may prevent flying include pulmonary disease, breathlessness, angina, chest pain, eye surgery within a specific timeframe before the flight, pregnancy complications like deep vein thrombosis or high blood pressure, heart attacks within a certain period before the flight, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) within a specified time frame prior to the flight.

Conditions aggravated by flying

Flying can make some medical conditions worse. Airlines often need a fit to fly certificate for these conditions.

  1. Heart conditions, like angina or a recent heart attack, feel more strain due to lower oxygen levels in the cabin.
  2. Lung problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, can lead to difficulty breathing when air pressure changes.
  3. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) risks increase with long periods of sitting. The cabin’s high altitude might make blood clot formation more likely.
  4. Pregnant passengers may face risks from reduced cabin pressure and oxygen levels, especially close to their delivery date.
  5. People with recent bone fractures might experience pain and swelling because of changing cabin pressure.
  6. Those who have had recent eye surgery could find that flying impacts their recovery due to pressure changes.
  7. Anaemia patients may suffer from breathlessness and fatigue as the reduced oxygen level in the aircraft makes it harder for them to get enough oxygen.
  8. Individuals with sickle cell disease are at higher risk of a sickling crisis caused by low oxygen levels on planes.
  9. Persons with an infectious disease might see their condition worsen, apart from posing a risk to other passengers.
  10. Diabetics need careful monitoring as flying can disrupt meal schedules and insulin management, potentially leading to hypoglycaemia.
  11. Flying soon after major surgery can increase the risk of complications like bleeding or deep vein thrombosis.
  12. Individuals fitted with pacemakers or implantable cardioverter defibrillators must check their devices’ security screening compatibility and how cabin pressures affect their function might be affected by security screenings and cabin pressures.

All these conditions require a doctor’s assessment before flying to ensure safety during travel.

Need for a fit to fly certificate

Airlines often ask for a fit to fly certificate to make sure you’re healthy enough for air travel. This document from your GP or healthcare provider proves you don’t have medical conditions that could get worse in the sky.

Air pressure changes or the act of sitting still for a long time can affect certain health issues like heart disease, breathing difficulties, or recent surgeries. Getting this certificate might also involve some costs.

For example, if you’ve had a recent heart attack but feel fine now, an airline might still want proof from your doctor that flying won’t put you at risk again. Or if you need extra help during the flight, like supplementary oxygen or special seating because of chronic illnesses such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), this certificate becomes essential.

It tells everyone involved – from cabin crew to airport security – that you’ve got the green light from medical professionals to be on board and what assistance you require for a safe trip.

Obtaining a fit to fly certificate

After understanding why you might need a certificate, let’s move on to how you get one. Obtaining a fit to fly certificate involves a few clear steps.

  1. Check the airline’s policy for medical conditions and flying. Each airline has its own set of rules about health and flying. You must know these before you book your ticket.
  2. Schedule an appointment with your GP or healthcare provider well in advance of your flight. This is crucial because some conditions require examination closer to your departure date.
  3. Discuss your travel plans and any health concerns with your doctor. They will assess whether your condition is stable and if it’s safe for you to fly.
  4. Your doctor may review medications or treatments you are receiving, especially if you have heart conditions, respiratory issues like COPD, or recent surgeries.
  5. If needed, undergo specific tests or assessments to prove stability in air pressure environments like those found at cabin altitude during flight.
  6. Medical professionals will then decide if you are fit to fly based on factors including risk of decompression sickness, ability to respond in an emergency, or potential need for supplemental oxygen.
  7. If approved, your GP or healthcare provider will issue the fit to fly certificate mentioning your medical condition and confirming that you’re stable for air travel.

    8.Explain any necessary precautions or care during the flight with your doctor, particularly if travelling with chronic conditions such as diabetes requiring continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices.

    9.Provide this certificate to the airline ahead of time as per their guidelines; some airlines ask for documents 48 hours before departure.

    10.Plan for assistance at the airport if needed, especially if mobility is an issue post-surgery or due to a broken leg or other immobilising condition.

    11.Consider purchasing travel insurance that covers medical conditions leading not fit to fly certificates might require special policies underwritten by entities regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

    12.Always carry copies of all relevant medical documentation with you while travelling, including prescription information and emergency contact details.

Following these steps ensures that both passengers with medical needs and airline staff are prepared for the journey ahead, making air travel safer and more comfortable for everyone involved.

Important Information for Those with Medical Conditions

If you have a medical condition, be sure to consider COVID-19 guidelines and consult your doctor for advice before flying. To learn more about obtaining a fit to fly certificate and traveling with medical conditions, read on.

COVID-19 considerations

Travel during COVID-19 requires careful planning, especially for those with medical conditions. Airlines might ask for a health certificate stating you’re free from the virus before flying.

This means getting tested for COVID-19 close to your departure date. Always check the latest travel advice and requirements of both your airline and destination regarding COVID-19.

Wearing masks, social distancing at airports, and on planes help keep everyone safe. Some people may feel anxious or stressed about flying during this time. Conditions like heart failure, high blood pressure, or diabetes mean you should take extra precautions.

Talk to your healthcare provider about your travel plans to ensure you have everything you need, such as medications or a new medical certificate if required by the airline.

Common fit to fly questions

Getting ready to fly comes with its questions, especially for those with health conditions. Here are the most common queries about being fit to fly.

  1. What health issues stop you from flying?

    Conditions like severe heart problems, recent lung surgery, and infectious diseases like chicken pox can prevent flying.

  2. How do heart attacks affect your ability to fly?

    If you’ve had a heart attack, airlines often require a period of stability and a doctor’s note confirming you’re safe to fly.

  3. Do I need proof of fitness for short flights?

    Yes, regardless of flight length, if you have a significant health condition, it’s best to have medical approval.

  4. Can pregnant women need fit to fly certificates?

    In later stages of pregnancy, airlines may ask for a certificate to ensure it’s safe for both mother and baby to travel.

  5. What about mental health?

    Anxiety or serious depression might require medical clearance just like physical conditions do.

  6. Is flying safe with a blocked artery or after bypass grafting?

    These conditions can impact your fitness to fly and usually need medical clearance before travel.

  7. Will my defibrillator set off airport security?

    While not directly related to flight safety, it’s wise to carry documentation about any implanted device when travelling.

  8. Can I carry blood-glucose monitoring devices on a plane?

    Yes, but inform security and show medical proof if necessary to avoid delays at checkpoints.

  9. How does travelling with oxygen work?

    If you need oxygen due to COPD or another condition, arrange this with the airline well before your trip as they have specific procedures.

  10. What should I know about flying after surgery?

    It’s crucial to wait until your doctor clears you as changes in air pressure might affect recovery.

  11. How do I get a fit-to-fly certificate?

    Your GP or specialist can provide this once they assess that it’s safe for you to travel by air without risking your health further.

12.Costs linked with obtaining these certificates.

Some healthcare providers may charge for issuing fit-to-fly documentation so check in advance what the fee will be.

13.What if my health condition changes last minute?

Contact the airline immediately; they can advise on steps taken next and whether new documentation is needed.

14.Looking into insurance – will it cover me if I’m not allowed to fly due to health reasons?

Invest in comprehensive travel insurance that covers cancellations due to medical issues ensuring peace of mind.

Travel insurance and medical conditions

Travel insurance is key if you have a medical condition. It covers costs if you get sick or need emergency help during your trip. Insurance companies often ask about your health before agreeing to cover you.

They might not cover all conditions, so it’s important to check what’s included in your policy. Some people with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or who’ve had strokes may need special coverage.

Before flying, always tell your insurance company about any medical issues like heart attacks or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This way, they can tailor your policy to fit your needs.

If you’re traveling for medical reasons, such as surgery abroad or using an air ambulance service, make sure these are also covered by your insurance plan.

Understanding fit-to-fly certificates

To ensure you’re fit to fly, some airlines may request a medical certificate confirming your stability and fitness to travel with a medical condition. Doctors will not issue a fit-to-fly certificate if the patient’s condition might worsen during the flight.

It’s crucial to understand specific airline policies and procedures for obtaining this certificate. Moreover, when seeking foreign repatriation or during pregnancy, there are distinct guidelines for these certificates.

Medical clearance may be required in certain situations, and it could involve associated costs from healthcare providers.

Obtaining a fit-to-fly certificate is often necessary for stable conditions that don’t require medical clearance but still need proof of fitness to travel. Fit-to-fly regulations aim at ensuring the safety of passengers with medical conditions while flying commercially.

Understanding these requirements becomes paramount as they impact various aspects of air travel, including international repatriation and pregnancies. The process usually involves communication between the passenger, their doctor or healthcare provider to obtain the necessary documentation as per airline policies.

Obtaining a Fit to Fly Certificate from Medicalcert. co. uk

If you have a medical condition and need a fit to fly certificate, can help. They provide specific guidelines for obtaining the necessary certification. It’s crucial to be aware of the airline’s policies as some flights may require this certificate from to prove your fitness for travel.

Be prepared that there may be associated costs when obtaining this document, usually from a GP or healthcare provider if required by the airline.

Alternative Options for Those with Medical Conditions

Consider medical air services for safe and comfortable travel, ensuring professional assistance. Read more to understand your options.

Medical flights and air ambulances

  • Medical flights and air ambulances provide crucial assistance for individuals with serious medical conditions who need transport by air to reach healthcare facilities or return home.
  1. These services are equipped with specialised medical equipment, trained personnel, and the capability to accommodate individuals with a wide range of medical needs during transit.
  2. Air ambulances are often used for patients requiring urgent medical attention in remote areas or those needing long-distance transportation for specialised treatment or repatriation.
  3. Medical flights and air ambulances offer a swift and efficient means of transportation, especially for patients requiring critical care or those with complex medical conditions that necessitate constant monitoring and support during travel.
  4. These services also cater to individuals with specific medical requirements such as those needing incubators, blood-thinning medication, or continuous blood glucose monitoring during transit.
  5. Furthermore, they play a vital role in facilitating the safe transport of individuals recovering from surgeries, suffering from chronic respiratory conditions like COPD, or undergoing treatment for heart-related issues such as coronary artery bypass grafting.
  6. Medical flights and air ambulances adhere to stringent safety standards and protocols to ensure the well-being of passengers throughout their journey, providing peace of mind for both patients and their families.

Risks of flying with medical conditions

Flying with medical conditions carries potential risks such as exacerbating existing health issues, discomfort due to changing cabin pressure, and difficulties in accessing prompt medical care during the flight.

Conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hypertension, or dehydration can be aggravated by flying, possibly leading to a medical emergency mid-air. Additionally, individuals with implantable defibrillators or recent heart surgeries may face increased security screening and potential interference from airport security equipment containing strong magnets.

Moreover, infections can spread easily within the confined space of an aircraft cabin, posing a higher risk to those already dealing with medical conditions.

Individuals traveling with medical conditions may encounter challenges including limited access to necessary medications onboard, restrictions on bringing certain supplies through security checkpoints, and uncertainties surrounding handling medical emergencies while airborne.

These factors should be carefully considered when evaluating the suitability of air travel for someone with a specific set of health concerns.

Moving on to “Obtaining a Fit to Fly Certificate from”…

Dangers of commercial air travel

When considering the risks of flying with medical conditions, it’s important to note the dangers inherent in commercial air travel. Commercial flights can pose a risk to individuals with certain medical conditions, especially those affected by changes in cabin pressure and limited access to medical care during flight.

For instance, passengers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hypertension (high blood pressure), or those who have undergone heart surgery are at higher risk due to potential complications arising from reduced oxygen levels and increased air pressure within the aircraft cabin.

Additionally, the constraints of a confined space can exacerbate existing health issues and increase discomfort for passengers with mobility limitations or respiratory problems. Understanding these hazards is crucial for individuals who may be contemplating commercial air travel while managing specific medical concerns.

Nowadays, emergency landings for medical reasons occur once every 604 flights on average across different airlines, highlighting the significance of addressing potential dangers associated with flying under specific health conditions.

Recognising that approximately 44% of airline industry accidents happen during approach and landing underscores the need for careful consideration when understanding how commercial air travel might impact individuals dealing with certain medical issues.

Benefits of using medical air services

Medical air services offer numerous benefits to individuals with medical conditions. Accessing specialised care during travel is crucial for those in need of urgent medical attention, such as individuals with heart conditions or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

These services ensure that patients receive the necessary care and equipment while being transported via ambulance planes equipped with essential lifesaving devices. Additionally, these air services provide a dedicated team of paramedics and healthcare professionals who are trained to handle specific medical conditions, offering peace of mind to patients and their families throughout the journey.

Furthermore, utilising medical air services can significantly reduce the risks associated with commercial air travel for individuals with complex health needs. The availability of bespoke medical flights tailored towards ensuring the well-being of passengers plays a vital role in offering safe transportation options, particularly for those unable to fly under standard conditions due to their critical health concerns.

In situations where prompt access to appropriate healthcare facilities is paramount – such as treating a mini-stroke or pneumothorax mid-air – these alternative transport options prove invaluable by providing swift and efficient solutions, ultimately improving patient outcomes.

Contacting a medical air service for assistance

  1. Air Ambulance Services: Medical air services offer specialised transport for patients with critical medical needs, including organ transplants, trauma, and long-distance travel.
  2. Coordination and Assessment: Upon contact, the medical air service will coordinate with healthcare providers to assess the patient’s condition and determine the appropriate mode of transportation.
  3. Specialised Medical Teams: These services provide highly trained medical teams and state-of-the-art equipment to ensure safe and efficient transfer of patients.
  4. Global Reach: Medical air services have a global reach, allowing them to facilitate international repatriation or transport to specialist facilities worldwide.
  5. Tailored Care Plans: Each patient receives a tailored care plan, addressing specific medical needs and ensuring continuity of care during transit.
  6. Rapid Response: Medical air services offer rapid response times, ensuring timely evacuation in emergency situations.
  7. Regulatory Compliance: These services adhere to strict regulatory standards, providing assurance of safe and compliant transport for patients with diverse medical conditions.
  8. 24/7 Availability: Medical air services are available 24/7, providing prompt assistance regardless of the time or location of the patient.
  9. Insurance Coordination: They assist in coordinating insurance requirements, ensuring smooth processing and coverage for medical air transport services as per the travel insurance policy.


Fitness to fly is crucial for individuals with medical conditions. Airlines often require fit-to-fly certificates to ensure stability while traveling. Obtaining these certificates entails understanding specific airline policies and consulting healthcare providers when needed.

Medical air services also offer alternative options for safe travel with medical conditions, ensuring a secure journey for those in need.


1. What medical conditions can stop you from flying?

Certain health issues like heart problems, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and recent surgeries might lead to a doctor giving a Not Fit to Fly Certificate. Other concerns include the risk of experiencing ‘the bends’, transient ischaemic attacks, or severe infections like the flu.

2. Why does having a recent surgical operation affect flying?

After surgery, flying in pressurised cabins can cause complications or slow down recovery due to changes in air pressure. It’s important to wait until your doctor says it’s safe.

3. Can fear of flying result in a Not Fit to Fly Certificate?

Yes, intense fear of flying that causes significant psychological stress might make one unable to travel by air. In such cases, doctors may issue Not Fit to Fly Certificates for mental well-being.

4. How do heart conditions impact fitness to fly?

Heart conditions, including a recent heart attack (myocardial infarction), pose risks during flights due to cabin pressure and potential emergency response limitations on board.

5. Is it okay to fly if I’m going abroad for medical treatment?

While many seek out medical tourism for various treatments abroad, it’s crucial first ensure no existing health condition like shortness of breath or any other listed could worsen by flying.