General health

Could my medical conditions stop me from flying?

For some people it’s so easy to hop on a plane and venture off for a week of sun, but for those who have recently had medical treatment or living with a long-term condition it might not be as easy, but all is not lost.

We’ve teamed up with Just Travel Cover, experts in arranging Travel Insurance for pre-existing medical conditions, to explore some conditions that might prevent you from flying, alongside some alternative ways to make sure you still get your dream holiday.

Firstly we recommend that you always check with your GP and the airline you book with prior to air travel.

  1. COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Air pressure can vary on an aeroplane depending on its size, and the altitude you’re flying, but this can cause breathing difficulties if you are living with COPD as the air is less saturated with oxygen.

Many airlines recommend avoiding long-haul flights and we advise people with COPD to declare it when arranging travel insurance. Here are a few questions you might be expected to answer:

  • How many inhalers have been prescribed for your COPD?
  • If you have had any hospital admissions in the past year?
  • How short of breath you get when walking on the flat?
  1. Strokes

There can sometimes be an increased risk of developing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and suffering from blood clots if you plan on flying and have recently suffered from a stroke or mini-stroke (TIA – Transient Ischaemic Attack).

Your GP or consultant will be able to confirm exactly when you are fit to fly.

Be sure to mention your stroke when arranging holiday insurance and ensure you have the following information to hand:

  • How many stokes have you had in total?
  • How long ago was your last stoke?
  • Do you take medication to thin your blood?
  1. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Did you know that DVT affects around 1 person in every 1,000 in the UK? Your doctor will assess your individual circumstances and consider whether you are fit to fly, although it is recommended to avoid long haul flights if you have recently suffered from DVT.

Again it is important to mention DVT when arranging Travel Insurance. You can expect the following questions.

  • Did you have any clots in your lungs?
  • Are you taking blood-thinning medication for your DVT?
  • How many times have you had a clot?
  1. An infectious disease

If you have recently had “the flu” and you’re planning on flying you should obtain a “Fit to Fly” certificate from your GP and check your airline’s guidelines as they reserve the right to refuse travel.

While it’s important to declare anything you have suffered from before you take out Travel Insurance the questions will vary. It’s useful to have dates and medications to hand.

  1. Recent surgeries

Travelling by air will depend on the type of surgery you have had and the expected recovery time. For minor surgery you should be safe to travel after a week or two but for more complex surgery you may have to wait three months or more before travelling.

It is recommended to avoid long haul flights as this can increase discomfort, cause dehydration and/or restrict your blood flow (potentially leading to DVT).

When adding surgery to your policy please have the name of your procedure, dates and any medication you are taking to hand. This will help us to deal with your call efficiently.


Three alternatives to flying

Travelling by plane can often be seen as the most convenient way to travel, and short trips to Europe should not be a problem in most cases. However, if you can’t fly because you are suffering from a medical condition or have had surgery, you shouldn’t have to miss out on a holiday – here are some alternatives:

  • Go cruising

One of the most accessible forms of travel, cruise companies are becoming an increasingly friendly way of travelling. You’ll often find pool lifts, ramp-access balconies and superb facilities, especially for those with mobility issues. Don’t forget to mention you’re going on a cruise when arranging travel insurance, as not all companies cover cruises, with some offering additional benefits to a standard policy.

  • Train

Planes are fast, but they aren’t scenic – do you miss the best bits of the place you’re visiting or country you’re travelling through when you’re at 35,000 feet? Not on a train!

  • Coach trips

Whether you’d like to travel within the UK or head across to the continent you can get some great deals if your schedule is flexible.

Travel Insurance

Don’t forget to arrange your Travel Insurance as soon as you have booked your trip so that you’re covered for cancellation, should something happen meaning you can not longer make the trip.

Remember that some Travel Insurance policies will not pay out for pre-existing conditions so it’s essential that you declare these so you have additional cover if you need medical treatment when you’re on holiday.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition then you may already be aware of how difficult it can be to find the right level of insurance. Fortunately, we’ve teamed up with award-winning specialist provider Just Travel Cover to offer you just that.

Using their comparison tool you can compare prices from multiple companies in one place that cover hundreds of medical conditions.

You can get 10% off too with the code P2U. 

Use the links below or call the UK call centre for free on 0800 542 7169.

Get a quote

*We always recommend that you always check with your GP and the airline you book with prior to air travel.

Pharmacy2U By Pharmacy2U Published 17/01/2020