Air Travel with Asthma
If you are physically fit and your asthma is well managed, you should have no problem flying. However, if your asthma is more serious, you may experience difficulties and there are a few more things to consider before booking your flights.
This is usually the result of reduced air pressure in the airplane cabin. When travelling in an aircraft you will experience a drop in the amount of oxygen within your blood, although most are unlikely to feel any different. But when you have a chronic lung condition such as asthma, flying can make your symptoms worse - you may feel more breathless, and your chest might feel tighter, for example. But by taking precautions and travelling with the right medicine, most are able to fly without any problems.
Fit to fly
Everyone with asthma should speak to their GP or asthma nurse to ensure their personal action plan is updated. If your asthma is more serious, speak to your GP before you book your flights. They might ask you about your previous flying experience how long the flight is, and how your asthma has been recently.
If your GP is concerned that your asthma could get worse when flying, they may ask you to undertake a walk test, as part of a ‘fitness to fly assessment’. Alternatively, you may be referred for a 'hypoxic challenge' test, which is used to predict how you might cope with the conditions in an aircraft cabin. Depending on the results, your GP might advice you that you should fly with oxygen.
Not everyone will need a medical assessment before flying. But if you have asthma it is important to be aware that if you meet a few conditions, your airline may require you to get medical clearance. If you have any questions or concerns, it is important to speak to your GP before you book a flight.
Medical clearance will usually be required if you meet these conditions:
If you have an unstable medical condition
Have a respiratory or heart condition
If you use medical equipment, such as oxygen, which will be needed onboard
If you have had a recent illness, surgery, or hospitalisation