Are you an expecting mother? Here's all you need to know about air travel

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While most Indian airlines will have similar rules and policies in place for expecting mothers, there are a few changes based on the week of the pregnancy

Planning a babymoon can be quite exciting. This is the time to relax and enjoy some 'me' time before your little one arrives. So whether you plan a beach holiday in Goa or chilly vacation in Gulmarg, we suggest you do not leave it to the last minute.

Try to travel before the 28th week of your pregnancy, because once you cross this milestone, it may get complicated and difficult for you to travel. And that is primarily because airlines and travel insurers may be reluctant to have you on board.

Things to do before you book a flight

The only way to solve this problem of "whether you are suitable to fly" is by following a few simple rules.

  • Check with your OB-GYN for clearance to fly, especially if you have crossed 27 or 28 weeks of pregnancy. That's because after the 28th week, the chances of labour increase and most airlines demand a 'fit to fly' letter from the doctor.
  • If you are booking via a travel agent, make sure to inform him of your pregnancy and current medical state. This will help him get an approval from the airlines who may otherwise refuse to carry you on board.
  • If you are booking domestic tickets online, check the airline policy. Most airline policies require a clearance letter from the doctor. They may also have limitations on what you can carry with you on the plane and special assistance or care.
  • If you are booking international tickets online, make sure to furnish the doctor's letter. Also, if you have a transit flight to your final destination, make sure to inform the travel agent. This way the transit airline is aware of your situation and can provide assistance if needed.
  • If you are travelling with family on a package tour, inform your agent, airline and even your tour operator about the same.

Indian airlines and their rules for expecting mothers

While most Indian airlines will have similar rules and policies in place for expecting mothers, there are a few changes here and there.

#1 Air India

  • The international carrier allows women to travel till their 32nd week of pregnancy, if they have no prior complications.
  • In fact, they also accommodate expecting mothers who are beyond the 32nd week and well into their 35th week of pregnancy. On their website, they state, "A medical certificate from the attending obstetrician must be obtained stating that she is fit to travel."
  • In case the pregnancy is beyond the 35th week, the airlines accommodates the expecting mother albeit "On urgent or compassionate grounds, with the authority of the Executive Director - Medical Services, after filling the MEDIF form."

Continue reading to see the rules applicable in other popular Indian airlines.

#2 Jet Airways

  • This international carrier also allows women to travel till their 32nd week of pregnancy, if they have no prior complications.
  • For pregnancy between 33 and 36 weeks, the expecting mothers must have a single pregnancy, and obtain a 'fitness to fly' certificate.
  • For pregnancy between 37 and 38 weeks, the airlines can accommodate the expecting mother albeit she had no prior medical complications. In addition, a 'fitness to fly' certificate will be required, specifying the number of weeks of pregnancy and she should also be accompanied by at least an MBBS doctor. "The Company Medical Department clearance is also required," their official information document states.
  • Women in their 38th week of pregnancy will not be allowed to fly.

#3 Spice Jet

  • This particular airlines accommodates expecting without any certificate upto their 27th week of pregnancy.
  • Women who are between 28 up to 36 weeks of their pregnancy need a 'fitness to fly certificate' from the treating doctor. In addition, it should not be a multiple pregnancy or previously complicated.
  • Women in their 37th week of pregnancy will not be accommodated by the airlines.

#4 Indigo Airlines

  • This international carrier allows expecting mothers to travel with a 'fitness to fly' certificate.
  • If the expecting mother can fly till her 36th week of pregnancy, post which, she will need the certificate. This certificate should be issued 7 days before she is to travel.
  • If there is multiple pregnancy or complication, then the expecting mother can travel only upto her 32nd week of pregnancy.

Continue reading to see how you should apply for travel insurance when travelling during your pregnancy.  

#5 Standard International airlines

  • The British Airways allows an expecting mother to travel (even with multiple pregnancies) till the 32nd week. You can also travel in your 36th week if you have a single pregnancy. In both cases, you will need a 'fitness to fly' certificate.
  • The Lufthansa airlines allows expecting mothers to travel upto their 36th week of pregnancy without a medical certificate. However, they do advise that expectant mothers beyond the 28th week of their pregnancy carry a current letter from the gyneacologist. It should include the due date, a confirmation that pregnancy is progressing and that the mother can travel.
  • The Emirates airlines allows expecting mothers to travel without certificate till their 28th week. If they are beyond the 29th week of pregnancy, they have to furnish a certificate. And for multiple pregnancies, expecting mothers can travel only upto their 31st week of pregnancy.

Apart from the certificate, you would also need a travel insurance.

Travel insurance for expecting mothers

If you are currently planning to book your tickets, first make sure that you have charted a travel insurance plan. Keep a few things in mind when you buy travel insurance.

  • Many travel insurers consider expecting mothers as high risk, so make sure that you reveal your actual week of pregnancy to the agent.
  • Some insurers only provide travel insurance upto 26th or 27th week of pregnancy. So confirm before booking your tickets.
  • If you are on a multi-travel plan, then discuss with your insurer about the same. Because you may have to take a separate single plan.
  • Make sure your policy covers medical care incase of early labour, medical assistance and expenses in case you go into labour abroad.

Remember that the cost of this insurance may vary depending upon the place you are travelling to and your status of pregnancy. So discuss all your queries about the travel before you actually book your tickets.

Hopefully, you can now make an informed decision and travel safely!

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(Image courtesy: Thomas)

Written by

Deepshikha Punj