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Flying with Cystic Fibrosis

Travelling with Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis shouldn't stop you from travelling and exploring the world - most people with CF are able to fly without any problems. But flying safely will likely require steps to be taken, from prepping and planning beforehand to travelling safely through the airport and on the plane. Let us explain how Alternative Airlines can help you understand understand airline policies with it comes to flying with medication for your cystic fibrosis.

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Flying with Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited lung condition, which can affect the whole body. Air pressure and oxygen concentration at high altitudes are much lower than on the ground. As a result, those with cystic fibrosis need to take precautions. For some, this might mean flying with oxygen.

It is important to speak to your doctor or cystic fibrosis care team before planning your holiday and booking your flights.

Top Tip:
 More flying advice can be found in our guide to flying with a lung condition

Important Considerations for those Flying with Cystic Fibrosis

Informing the Airline

In many instances, you may not be required to tell the airline beforehand. However, it is quite often a good idea to inform the airline in advance, depending on your circumstances. These circumstances include:

1. If you require an electric wheelchair or device with special batteries

2. If you will require oxygen during your flight

Top Tip: Alternative Airlines is an online travel agent. We can get in contact with your airline on your behalf - simply contact our expert customer service team to find out more.

Getting a Medical Certificate

A medical care certificate will be a written statement from your doctor or CF care center stating that you are healthy enough to fly. The need for a medical certificate will depend on the policies of each airline, but it is important to be aware that an airline may require a written medical statement if you meet these conditions:

1. If you will require oxygen during the flight.

2. If you have a medical condition that will cause the airline to have reasonable doubt about your safety during the flight. Remember that in most cases, an airline has the right to stop you from boarding if staff believe you may deteriorate during the flight or if you will be a risk to yourself.

If you have any doubt, it is always worth having a medical certificate with you, just in case.

Flying with Medication

Keep all medication in its original containers, with clear labels. It is a good idea to bring extra written prescriptions in case you lose supplies - but be aware that local pharmacies may need to order specific CF medications. If you're travelling internationally, your prescriptions may not be valid in some countries.

Make sure you are stocked up on medicines. As a travel agency, we have experience booking flights on over 600 airlines around the world, so we know how frustrating but common it is for flights to be cancelled, delayed, or have their schedules changed. Have extra medications on hand, and ensure you have at least 24 hours worth of extra medication before travelling.

Ensure you have any medication that you need to take with a meal, such as pancreatic enzymes or insulin, with you in your hand luggage, and have it to-hand during the flight, if you plan on eating during the flight.

For more information, visit our guide to flying with medication.

Exacerbation Medication

Flying can be stressful on the body, from navigating around the airport, passing through security and check-in. There are also a lot of intense changes in climate. The airport can be stuffy, and you might be leaving a cold and wet location for a warm and humid one. Consider travelling with antibiotics and prednisone, but speak to your doctor about this.

Flying with Oxygen

Your doctor might suggest a high-altitude test can be used to make sure you will be safe and comfortable to fly. If the test shows that your blood oxygen levels might be affected, you may need supplemental oxygen when flying.

If you need to fly with oxygen, it is important to understand airline policies. For more information, check out our guide to flying with oxygen.

Carrying your Medical Devices

Those with CF way require different medical equipment, including a vest, nebulizer, portable oxygen concentrator, insulin pump or other medical equipment. Hold baggage can go amis, so always carry your important medical devices, such as your airways clearance machine, onto the plane.

Powering your devices

Be aware that most planes do not have electrical outlets to charge electronic equipment.If you require you equipment in-flight, ensure they are adequately charged. Aim to have at least 50% more power than you are likely to need during your flight.

Pre-board the plane

Do not be afraid to ask the airline agent if you can pre-board the plane because you have cystic fibrosis, giving you time to get comfortable and sanitise your seat with wipes.

Stay hydrated

Low cabin humidity can result in dehydration, so replace lost fluids by drinking water. Dehydration can increase the risk of blood clotting and DVT. Ensure you get up, more about, and walk every hour or so. You can check out our guide to health and wellbeing while flying for some more top tips for keeping healthy and comfortable when flying!

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Can I get travel insurance if i have cystic fibrosis?

If you have CF, finding affordable travel insurance can be a challenge. The Cystic Fibrosis Trust publishes an up-to-date list of recommended travel insurers.

What holiday destinations are best if I have cystic fibrosis?

Some destinations will be less ideal travel destinations than others, as a result of the lack in resources that those with CF need in order to care for their disease. Talk to your doctor or care team about the destinations you are considering. If you plan on flying to an international destination, consider places with comprehensive Cystic Fibrosis care facilities. You can find our more by visiting the CF organization of the country you plan on travelling to. You should be aware that there are some specific health risks associated with particular countries or areas;speak to your doctor for more advice.