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Flying with an Ear Infection

Is it Safe? | Tips & Advice

Man holding his head while waiting in an airport lounge

Flying with an Ear Infection

If you've landed on this page, you're probably wondering if it's safe to fly with an ear infection. Well, the truth is that it's not advised to fly with an ear infection as it may cause serious problems. Travellers with an ear infection should alter the dates of travel to ensure full safety. However, if you need to travel urgently with an ear infection then you can reduce the risk of worsening by following the tips below.

Is it safe to fly with an ear infection?

If you can, it's best to avoid flying whilst you have an ear infection or a sinus infection. Flying with ear infections causes a blockage to the eustachian tubes, placing additional pressure on the eardrum. When the aircraft ascends and prepares for landing the air pressure changes quickly and the eustachian tubes cannot react quick enough. When there is continuous increased pressure on the eardrum it can rupture. Although flying with an ear infection doesn't always rupture the eardrum, it can be agonizing and uncomfortable.

Tips For Flying with an Ear Infection

Flying with an ear infection is not advised, however, if you have to travel we recommend following the tips below to reduce the risk of worsening the ear infection.

Speak to your doctor

The first and most important tip is to speak to your doctor! Ask for advice. Should you really be flying whilst having an ear infection? Is it really worth it? Your doctor will give you professional advice and may give you medication to ease the pain of an ear infection.

Chew gum

Stock up on some chewing gum. Chewing gum opens the Eustachian Tubes in the ears and allows the air with the new atmospheric pressure to reach the inner ear. We recommend that you chew gum before takeoff and during landing to avoid uncomfortable pressure in the ears.


Yawning helps reduce the risk of the ear rapturing as it opens the eustachian tube and lets the middle ear get more air, creating equilibrium with the air pressure. It's most important to yawn when the plane is ascending and descending.

Take Medication

In order to avoid worsening the ear infection we advise you to take all the medication recommended by your doctor. To treat a bacterial infection you may be given antibiotic eardrops, Amoxicillin or Ciprofloxacin.

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Flying with an Ear Infection FAQs

Is it safe to fly with an ear infection?

Flying with an ear infection is not advised, if you have a flight booked you should reevaluate what is more important. After all, you don't want to risk your health. If you must travel follow our tips from above.

When you book flights through Alternative Airlines we recommend adding Cancellation Protection to your booking for a small extra cost to protect your money if you cannot make your flight due to emergency circumstances e.g. illness.

What is an ear infection?

Ear infections also known as Otitis are infections that affect the inner, middle and outer ears. Symptoms of an ear infection may include difficulty hearing, discharge running out of the ear, and a feeling of pressure or itching inside the ear. In order to avoid ear infections worsening avoid putting water in your ears and putting cotton wool buds in your ears.

How to help children when flying with an ear infection?

If your child is flying with an ear infection, encourage them to swallow. By giving a baby a bottle to suck on during take-off and landing encourages frequent swallowing. Swallowing helps open the eustachian tube and reduces the risk of the pain of ear infection. Children over 5 should try to suck on sweets or chew gum.

Why do ears pop on a plane?

The high air pressure when the plane is ascending and descending causes ears to pop. The inner ear has air trapped in it and as the pressure in the atmosphere changes, it causes pressure on your ear drum.

Do earplugs help whilst flying with an ear infection?

There are earplugs that are made especially for flying which you might find helpful in order to avoid the ear infection worsening. These earplugs have designed filters that help the ears adjust to changing pressure in a plane cabin. Therefore, if you need to fly and you are experiencing an ear infection we recommend investing in earplugs.