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If you’re pregnant and still want to travel, you’ll need to know the rules for traveling while pregnant — which can vary widely between airlines, from “fly whenever you want” to even “you must fly with an obstetrician” (I’m not kidding).

TPG has written about: planning trips if you are hoping to become pregnant in the relatively near future, traveling during your first trimester, traveling during your second trimester and traveling during your third trimester. But — even though some babies born on a plane do score some free flights, that’s probably the last place that most moms want to give birth.

Flying at 30 weeks pregnant
Mommy Points flying at 30 weeks pregnant

For the most part, the airline rules for traveling while pregnant don’t kick in until the third trimester in the 28th week; before then you are left to your own decision-making and the guidance of your medical team. However, once you hit the 28th week (or, potentially, look like you have hit the 28th week), some of the decisions on when and where you can fly are out of your hands, at least for international travel. US airlines typically do not require any documentation or have any restrictions until the last month of pregnancy, whereas many international airlines require medical clearance starting at 28 weeks.

Those pregnant with multiples will potentially have travel restrictions on some international airlines kick in earlier than those pregnant with one baby. Read this guide if you are pregnant or may become pregnant in the near term as you might be surprised at what some of the airlines do (and don’t) require.

Airline Rules for Traveling While Pregnant

Air Canada

Any woman with a normal pregnancy and no previous history of premature labor may travel up to and including her 36th week on Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express.

Air France

You do not need medical clearance to fly with Air France. However, the airline recommends you seek your doctor’s opinion before traveling. Pregnant women may not be seated in exit rows and women who are pregnant are told to avoid travel from the 37th week of pregnancy to 7 days following childbirth.

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand recommend that you discuss your travel plans with your doctor or midwife.

  • If you are carrying one baby and the pregnancy is uncomplicated, with medical clearance from your midwife or doctor you can travel up to the end of the 36th week for flights over four hours and to the end of the 40th week for flights under four hours.
  • For multiple uncomplicated pregnancies (e.g., twins), you can travel on flights longer than four hours up to the end of the 32nd week and on flights shorter than four hours you can fly up to the end of your 36th week.

A medical clearance is required by Air New Zealand if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have a complicated pregnancy such as placenta previa or bleeding
  • You have a multiple pregnancy such as twins/triplets and are traveling on a flight longer than four hours and you are beyond the start of the 32nd week
  • You have a history of premature labor
  • You are in the early stages of labor
  • You are traveling beyond the start of the 36th week of pregnancy on a flight longer than four hours
  • You are traveling beyond the start of the 38th week of pregnancy on any flight

If you are beyond your 28th week, the airline recommends you carry a letter from your doctor or midwife stating they believe you are fit for travel, confirming your pregnancy dates and that there are no complications.

Alaska Airlines

No restrictions or specifications for women traveling when pregnant. However, the airline suggests consulting a physician prior to any air travel.

American Airlines

  • A medical certificate is required if you will be traveling within four weeks of your delivery date in a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy.
  • For domestic flights under five hours (not including travel over water), travel is not permitted within seven days before and after your delivery date. If you should need to travel within seven days before or after delivery, a medical certificate must be completed by your physician and you must get clearance from American’s Special Assistance Coordinators.
  • For international travel or any flights over water, travel is not advised within four weeks of the due date, unless you are examined by an obstetrician within 48 hours of outbound departure and certified in writing as medically stable for flight. Travel within 10 days of the due date for international travel must have clearance from American’s Special Assistance Coordinators. Travel within seven days after delivery requires clearance as well.

British Airways

You cannot fly after:

  • the end of the 36th week if you are pregnant with one baby
  • the end of the 32nd week if you are pregnant with more than one baby

British Airways recommends that you carry a confirmation from your doctor or midwife that includes whether your pregnancy is single or multiple, your expected due date and confirmation that there are no complications.

Cathay Pacific

For all pregnancies after 28 weeks, a medical certificate in English, dated within 10 days of the initial outbound travel date, is required, stating:

  • whether it is a single or multiple pregnancy
  • the estimated week of pregnancy
  • the expected date of delivery (EDD)
  • that you are in good health and the pregnancy is progressing normally, without complications
  • that you are fit to travel

If you experience any medical complications during your travel, you must get medical clearance from Cathay Pacific’s medical team prior to your return journey. If you don’t have a medical certificate or if your medical certificate is outdated or if it does not contain the information required, Cathay Pacific Airways reserves the right to deny boarding.

The airline will accept passengers with uncomplicated multiple pregnancies up to 32 weeks. Passengers with uncomplicated multiple pregnancies who are past the 32-week mark can’t fly.

The airline will accept passengers with uncomplicated single pregnancies up to 36 weeks. Passengers with uncomplicated single pregnancies who are past the 36-week mark can’t fly.

Delta Air Lines

Delta does not impose restrictions on flying for pregnant women, so a medical certificate is not required to travel. However, they also a reminder that ticket change fees and penalties cannot be waived for pregnancy.

EVA

  • An expectant mother in the last four weeks of pregnancy (or eight weeks if a multiples pregnancy) or a mother within the first seven days after giving birth cannot fly.
  • An expectant mother during the last 12 to 4 weeks of pregnancy (last 12 to 8 weeks of multiple pregnancies) must obtain a medical information sheet (MEDIF) within 10 days prior to flight departure. Please contact the EVA Air reservation office at least 48 hours (two working days) before scheduled flight departure.
  • The airline recommends that pregnant travelers bring a Doctor’s Diagnostic Statement verifying the expected delivery date to prevent the possibility of being denied boarding by airport staff or barred from entering a destination country. Regulations vary from country to country. EVA recommends you check travel requirements with the local diplomatic mission of your destination country before you make a reservation.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier has no restrictions, but encourages women in their ninth month of pregnancy to obtain an examination from their physician shortly before flying to confirm that flying by air will be safe. And shares that women with a history of complications or premature delivery should not fly at all.

Hawaiian Airlines

  • If you’re 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 Hawaiian Airlines within Hawaii.
  • If you are not in good health or are in distress, then the airline 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 are traveling within 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 are traveling outside of Hawaii 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.

JAL

Here are the cases when a medical certificate is required for international routes (medical certificates are available here):

  • When the expected delivery date is in four weeks or less (36th week of pregnancy or after)
  • When the due date is not certain
  • When multiple births may be expected
  • When there were previous premature births
  • Also: When the due date is in 14 days or less, an obstetrician must accompany the expectant mother — see, we really weren’t kidding about that

JetBlue

Pregnant passengers expecting to deliver within seven days are prohibited from travel, unless the passenger provides a doctor’s certificate dated no more than 72 hours before 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.

Lufthansa

  • Expectant mothers with complication-free pregnancies can fly with Lufthansa until the end of the 36th week of pregnancy or up to 4 weeks before their expected due date without a medical certificate from a gynecologist. However, the airline recommends that expectant mothers beyond the 28th week of their pregnancies carry a current letter from a gynecologist that includes the following:
    • confirmation that the pregnancy is progressing without complications
    • the expected due date
    • a statement that the patient’s pregnancy does not prevent her from flying
  • In the case of an uncomplicated multiple pregnancy, mothers-to-be can fly until the end of the 28th week of pregnancy.

Qantas

  • Flights of four+ hours: For routine pregnancies, you can travel up to the end of the 36th week for single pregnancies and the end of the 32nd week for multiple pregnancies.
  • Flights less than four hours: For routine pregnancies, you can travel up to the end of the 40th week for single pregnancies and the end of the 36th week for multiple pregnancies.
  • Medical clearance is required if you are having complications and it is not a routine pregnancy.

After 28 weeks, you need to carry a certificate or letter from a registered medical practitioner or registered midwife confirming:

    • the estimated date of delivery
    • whether it is a single or multiple pregnancy
    • that the pregnancy is routine and that there are no complications
    • The certificate or letter must be available on request and be carried with you at the airport and during the flight in your cabin baggage

The certificate or letter must be available on request and be carried with you at the airport and during the flight in your cabin baggage

Singapore Airlines

  • For uncomplicated single pregnancies, expectant mothers cannot fly beyond the 36th week of pregnancy.
  • For uncomplicated multiple pregnancies, expectant mothers cannot fly beyond the 32nd week of pregnancy.
  • For uncomplicated single pregnancies between 29 weeks and 36 weeks of pregnancy, expectant mothers are required to provide a medical certificate stating the following: (1) fitness to travel, (2) number of weeks of pregnancy and (3) estimated date of delivery. The certificate should be dated within 10 days of the date of the first flight exceeding 28 weeks of pregnancy. This certificate will have to be presented at check-in when requested.
  • For uncomplicated multiple pregnancies, you need to present the medical certificate if you are traveling between the 29th and 32nd week of pregnancy (calculated based on the expected date of delivery).
  • You need not present any medical certificate if you are traveling within the 28th week of pregnancy. But if any of your return flight exceeds 28 weeks of pregnancy, you will need to present a medical certificate.

Southwest Airlines

The airline has no firm restrictions, but recommends that women 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.

Spirit Airlines

The airline has no firm restrictions but recommends that women in their eight month of pregnancy obtain an examination from a physician shortly before flying to confirm it is safe to travel.

Swiss

Mothers-to-be whose pregnancy has had no complications can travel on Swiss flights up to the end of the 36th week of pregnancy (i.e., up until four weeks before their scheduled delivery date). If you are expecting a multiple birth and the pregnancy proceeds without complications, you can travel on Swiss flights up to the end of the 32nd week of pregnancy.

The airline recommends expectant mothers beyond the 28th week of their pregnancies carry a current letter from a physician stating that the pregnancy is uncomplicated and confirming the expected date of delivery. The physician should state that the patient’s pregnancy does not prevent her from traveling by air.

Turkish Airlines

  • Pregnant women can fly up to their 28th weeks of pregnancies without a doctor’s letter.
  • Pregnant women expecting one baby can fly with doctor’s letter stating they are fit to fly between 28–35 weeks. After that, they are no longer allowed to fly even with medical clearance.
  • Pregnant women expecting multiples can fly during weeks 28–31 of the pregnancy with a doctor’s letter stating they are fit to fly. After that, they are no longer allowed to fly even with medical clearance.
  • Medical clearance must be dated seven days or less prior to the flight.
  • The clearance must contain the doctor’s full name, diploma number and signature.
  • The report should be issued in English or Turkish.

United Airlines

  • Women traveling 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) of her flight departure. It is preferable to have a certificate dated within one day of flight departure.
  • The certificate must state that the obstetrician has examined the mother-to-be 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.

Virgin Australia

If you are 28 weeks pregnant or more, you will be required to carry a letter from your doctor or midwife, dated no more than 10 days prior to travel, outlining the estimated due date, single or multiple pregnancies, the absence of complications, and your fitness to fly for the duration of the flight(s) booked.

You can ask request to Virgin Australia to consider your pregnancy and relevant medical condition on a case-by-case basis by contacting our Guest Contact Centre.

The airline requires you to travel with medical clearance (PDF, 331KB) during pregnancy if the following applies:

You cannot travel on flights greater than four hours if any of the following apply:

  • Single pregnancy: after the 36th week
  • Multiple pregnancy: after the 32nd week
  • Within 48 hours of normal delivery

You cannot travel on flights of less than four hours in the following cases:

  • Single pregnancy: after the 40th week
  • Multiple pregnancy: after the 36th week
  • Within 48 hours of normal delivery

Virgin Atlantic

  • If you’re expecting one baby and want to travel between your 28th and 36th weeks, the airline needs you to travel with a certificate from your doctor. The certificate should state that you have had no complications and your estimated delivery date. Travel may be delayed or denied if you do not have this form, if asked.
  • After your 36th week, you cannot fly unless there are mitigating circumstances.
  • If you’re expecting more than one baby and you want to travel between your 28th and 32nd weeks, you’ll need to travel with a doctor’s certificate stating you’ve had no complications and your estimated delivery date. Travel may be delayed or denied if you do not have this document, if asked.
  • For travel after the cutoff dates for single or multiple pregnancies, you can fly only for urgent medical or compassionate reasons, and only on approval from Virgin Atlantic’s medical advisors. The airline may also ask that a suitable medical attendant accompany you.
  • Contact Virgin Atlantic’s Special Assistance team on 0844 412 4455 for more details.

Bottom Line

My last flight when I was pregnant with my first daughter was a short Southwest Airlines flight at about 35 or 36 weeks to attend a funeral. With my second pregnancy, my final flight was at about 31 – 32 weeks, and that was enough airline travel for me because it simply was not remotely comfortable at that point. Just because an airline permits you to fly until right before your due date, doesn’t mean you actually will want to. See: Traveling during your third trimester.
Travel in the Third Trimester
Photo taken one day before my final flight home at 32 weeks pregnant – it was less than comfortable flying like this.
Have you had any experience submitting documentation to an airline in order to fly while pregnant?
Featured image by Nadezhda1906/Getty Images

 

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