Understanding Airline Policies for Pregnant Passengers

07 March 2017

Are you an expectant mother and planning air travel? Not aware of the “Fit to Fly” written consent from a doctor prior traveling? This is an easily confusable subject since each and every airline has a unique set of protocols and limitations when it comes to air travel while being pregnant.

For example, if an airline staff questioned you if you were pregnant, don’t get offended, instead be grateful, for it means that they are practicing procedures in line with airline industry safety standards. Why? Because pregnant passengers require additional care and attention anywhere from the airline check-in counters through immigration, customs and up to the flight and into arrival at the intended destination airport. This is the only concern that the airline carriers are trying to address.

Certain pregnant passengers, those with other ailments cannot walk long distances or climb stairs-cases. Just imagine getting to gate D1 or D2 at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok. There can be many more examples, but even if a pregnant passenger is allowed on a flight in her condition, they may have to be prepared for her safety, comfort and convenience. Like what? Providing her wheelchairs or helping her pass through other unchallenging passages not commonly used by ordinary passengers, and even preparing the nurse’s station at the destination airport.

During pregnancy it’s common to experience Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT), the development of a blood clot in a deep vein and up to 80 percent of DVTs occur in the left leg. Now note that the air is thinner inside the plane than the normal air we breathe on ground. Especially for pregnant women, it could also lead to blood clotting, slow blood circulation and even far worse conditions.

The point I am trying to make is: Don’t wait until the airline staff finds out and apprehend you. It is only for your personal safety, comfort and convenience that they are after, while you’re at the airport or even on-board the aircraft. It’s not because they love you, they are trying to avoid the hassle they’ll have to run into in case something happens to you, that they are more concerned with. Having to divert a plane due to someone going into labor in midair is huge. You should also keep in mind that cabin crews are not doctors, nurses, and not even midwives. By any chance if you get to go into labor in mid-air, good luck. Don’t be too excited with those moms who have given birth in mid-air, they probably were just very lucky.

You may be surprised to know these pregnancy travel regulations differ from airline to airline, one carrier may casually note the number of months you have been pregnant then allow you to fly, while the other maybe specific as to the number of weeks, your last pregnancy experiences, if any, considering many other factors that you should be prepared with a doctor’s “Fit to Fly” certificate.

This certificate can certainly get you flying even through your ninth month. But Is it Worth it? Well, the crew will probably do the necessary as to cover your lifeless body with a blanket and prop you on a seat as if you were still sitting alive, and ask other passengers who don’t like sitting beside a corpse to move to other vacant seats, etc. Next, the airline will go through the trouble of being investigated and accountable by the authorities why they allowed you to fly, end up paying some hefty fines. That is if you ever would go that way anyway!

I have gathered regulations with regard to flying while pregnant from three major airline carriers that operate into the Maldives.

SriLankan Airlines

Before bookings flights with SriLankan Airlines, please consider the following rules:

Expectant mothers need to produce a “Fit to Fly” written consent from a doctor confirming the expected date of delivery and the passenger may be accepted for transportation with the authority of the airline, along with a filled and signed MEDA form.

For uncomplicated pregnancies it is not permitted to travel beyond the following dates:

For single pregnancies, it is not permitted to travel after the end of the 34th week

For multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.) it is not permitted to travel after the end of the 32nd week

Air India

Before bookings flights with Air India expectant mothers need to keep in mind the following rules:

Expectant mothers need to carry a “Fit to Fly” written consent from a doctor confirming the expected date of delivery.

For uncomplicated pregnancies it is not permitted to travel beyond the following dates:

For single pregnancies, it is not permitted to travel after the end of the 32nd week

For multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.) it is not permitted to travel after the end of the 32nd week

In case of the pregnancy beyond 35 weeks, passenger may be accepted for transportation only on urgent or compassionate grounds, with the authority of the Executive Director – Medical Services, after filling the MEDIF form.

Emirates

Before bookings flights with Emirates expectant mothers need to keep in mind the following rules:

Expectant mothers need to carry a “Fit to Fly” written consent from a doctor confirming the expected date of delivery.

For uncomplicated pregnancies it is not permitted to travel beyond the following dates:

For single pregnancies, it is not permitted to travel after the end of the 29th week, unless a medical certificate or letter signed by an appropriately qualified doctor or midwife is required, stating:
– the confirmation of a singleton or multiple pregnancy
– the pregnancy is progressing without complications
– the estimated date of delivery
– the date up to which you are expected to be fit to travel
– that you are in good health
– that there is no reason known to them that would prevent you from flying

For multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.) it is not permitted to travel after the end of the 32nd week

In case of the pregnancy beyond 36 weeks, may be accepted for transportation after prior clearance is granted by the Emirates medical department. A medical information form (MEDIF) will need to be submitted for clearance purposes.