If you have concerns about flying when pregnant, rest assured that you need not be restricted from flying. Most pregnant women travel without any problems. That said, it's always wise to chat to your doctor or midwife to let them know of your plans. If any concerns arise, they can suggest the best plan of action.
Most airlines allow pregnant women to fly until the 36th week of pregnancy on shorter flights (less than four hours), and usually request a medical clearance certificate. You can usually obtain a medical clearance certificate from their respective websites.
Tips for Flying While Pregnant
If you are flying while pregnant, here are some tips to help you have a more comfortable flight.
- If you can, plan any travel in your second trimester. The main reason being you’ll likely be much more comfortable, without worrying about morning sickness or going into labour
- To avoid dehydration on a flight (which can occur due to cabin pressure), keep up your intake of water and avoid caffeine
- Try to get up and move around when you can — every 30 minutes, get up and walk the isle
- During pregnancy you are more at risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis). Wear some properly fitted DVT preventative in-flight socks
- Book an isle seat near the toilet to make those frequent toilet breaks easier. You wont have to worry about struggling to get past other passengers sitting next to you
- Think about spoiling yourself to an upgraded ticket allowing for more space, especially for a longer flight. Leg rests aid better circulation, and more leg room will enable greater comfort than the more cramped economy class
- When booking a flight where meals will be served, add in a note that you’re pregnant. You want to ensure you wont have any unsafe foods served to you. For example, uncooked meats
- Wear your seatbelt low around your pelvis
- Try and do some stretches in your seat
- Instead of taking sleeping tablets to help with the flight or jetlag, try other methods to naturally realign your sleep. Speak to your naturopath for more advice
- Have you organised travel insurance? Its something you should seriously consider, especially now that you’re pregnant. If you need to hurry home or need health care, its best to be covered.
If you’re going overseas and will be using an overseas airline, be sure to check their guidelines for carriage before you book your initial flight. You don't want to be caught out! Every airline is different as to what they permit and disallow, so make sure you contact the airlines in advance or see if the information can be found on their website.
Below are the pregnancy guidelines from some of Australia’s leading airlines. Please note that these airline guidelines were correct at the time of publishing this article (reviewed and updated in March 2013) and may change at any time.
Singapore Airlines & Pregnancy
For uncomplicated single pregnancies, Singapore Airlines will allow you to travel until 36 weeks of pregnancy. For uncomplicated multiple pregnancies, you may travel until the 32nd week of pregnancy.
If you are between 29 weeks and 36 weeks of pregnancy (free from any complications), you will be required to provide a medical certificate stating your fitness to travel, the number of weeks of pregnancy and the baby's estimated date of birth. The certificate needs to be dated within ten days of the date of the first flight, exceeding 28 weeks of pregnancy. You'll need to present the certificate at check-in when requested.
For uncomplicated multiple pregnancies travelling between the 29th and 32nd week of pregnancy, you will also need to present a medical certificate.
For more information, see Singapore Airlines Expectant Mothers information.
Virgin Australia & Pregnancy
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 make a direct request to Virgin Australia to consider your pregnancy and relevant medical condition on a case by case basis by contacting their Guest Contact Centre.
Virgin Australia requires you to travel with medical clearance during pregnancy if the following applies:
- Any pregnancy with complications
- Within 5 days of normal vaginal birth, longer for caesarean section (unacceptable within 10 days, clearance within 11-14 days or if complications persist).
For flights greater than 4 hours, if you have a single pregnancy, you may not travel after the 36th week. For multiple pregnancies, you cannot travel after the 32nd week.
For flights less than 4 hours, if you have a single pregnancy, you may not travel after the 38th week. For multiple pregnancies, you cannot travel after the 36th week.
For more information, see Virgin Australia's flying while pregnant policy.
Qantas & Pregnancy
If you wish to fly for four hours or longer, the following applies:
- For normal 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 (e.g. twins).
If you wish to fly for less than four hours, the following applies:
- For normal 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.
In all cases, a medical clearance is required if your pregnancy is not normal, or if you are having complications with your pregnancy.
A medical certificate is required after 28 weeks. It must confirm your baby's estimated date of birth, whether it's a single or multiple pregnancy, and that your pregnancy is normal with no complications. You must have your medical certificate in your possession at all times for inspection.
For more information, see the Qantas pregnancy guidelines.
Jetstar & Pregnancy
Pregnancy travel on Jetstar (JQ) and Jetstar Japan (GK) flights:
For all pregnancies, there must be 7 days between the date travel is completed and the date on which you are due to give birth. After 28 weeks of pregnancy, must carry a letter from a registered/licensed medical practitioner or registered/licensed midwife confirming the baby's estimated date of birth, whether it's a single or multiple pregnancy and that the pregnancy is normal with no complications.
If you are pregnant and your travel is less than 4 hours duration:
- You have a normal pregnancy, all of your travel must be completed by the end of the 40th week of your pregnancy and no medical clearance is required
- You have a complicated pregnancy, medical clearance is required
- You have an uncomplicated multiple pregnancy, medical clearance is not required provided travel is completed by the end of the 36th week of pregnancy
If you are pregnant and your travel is 4 hours duration or greater:
- You have a normal pregnancy, all of your travel must be completed by the end of the 36th week of your pregnancy
- You have a complicated pregnancy, medical clearance is required
- You have an uncomplicated multiple pregnancy, medical clearance is not required provided travel is completed by the end of the 32nd week of pregnancy
Pregnancy travel on Jetstar Asia (3K, VF) and Jetstar Pacific (BL) flights
For a normal pregnancy with no complications, Jetstar will carry you on their services up to 27 weeks of pregnancy without a doctors certificate. Between 28 to 35 weeks of pregnancy, you may travel with a doctor's clearance certificate. If you are 36 weeks or beyond, you may not travel.
For more information, see Jetstar’s pregnancy guidelines.