Official reprint from UpToDate®
www.uptodate.com ©2016 UpToDate®

Assessment of adult patients for air travel

Paulo M Alves, MD, MSc, FasMA
Section Editor
Mark D Aronson, MD
Deputy Editor
H Nancy Sokol, MD


In the United States, the Department of Transportation has issued specific regulations to prevent discrimination of passengers based on disability and requires airline carriers to accommodate patients with disabilities [1]. Similar regulations exist in Europe and many other countries.

Clinicians are frequently asked to make recommendations to patients about travel safety. Air travel exposes people to different factors that could have impact in their health status. This topic review will present an overview of issues for clinicians to consider when evaluating the risks posed by commercial air travel.

Multiple topics in UpToDate discuss specific aspects of air travel. Related topics include:

(See "Jet lag".)

(See "High altitude, air travel, and heart disease".)


Subscribers log in here

To continue reading this article, you must log in with your personal, hospital, or group practice subscription. For more information or to purchase a personal subscription, click below on the option that best describes you:
Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Nov 18, 2015.
The content on the UpToDate website is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions. The use of this website is governed by the UpToDate Terms of Use ©2016 UpToDate, Inc.
  1. http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title14/14cfr382_main_02.tpl (Accessed on November 17, 2015).
  2. http://www.asma.org/publications/medical-publications-for-airline-travel/medical-guidelines-for-airline-travel (Accessed on March 02, 2015).
  3. Gendreau MA, DeJohn C. Responding to medical events during commercial airline flights. N Engl J Med 2002; 346:1067.
  4. Possick SE, Barry M. Evaluation and management of the cardiovascular patient embarking on air travel. Ann Intern Med 2004; 141:148.
  5. Johnson AO. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease * 11: fitness to fly with COPD. Thorax 2003; 58:729.
  6. Evans RW, Purdy RA, Goodman SH. Airplane descent headaches. Headache 2007; 47:719.
  7. Ahmedzai S, Balfour-Lynn IM, Bewick T, et al. Managing passengers with stable respiratory disease planning air travel: British Thoracic Society recommendations. Thorax 2011; 66 Suppl 1:i1.
  8. Walker J, Kelly PT, Beckert L. Airline policies for passengers with obstructive sleep apnoea who require in-flight continuous positive airways pressure. Respirology 2010; 15:556.
  9. Johnston RV, Hudson MF, Aerospace Medical Association Air Transport Medicine Committe. Travelers' thrombosis. Aviat Space Environ Med 2014; 85:191.
  10. Tuberculosis and air travel: Guidelines for prevention and control. World Health Organization. 3rd ed. 2008. Available at: http://www.who.int/tb/publications/2008/WHO_HTM_TB_2008.399_eng.pdf (Accessed on March 13, 2012).
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Federal air travel restrictions for public health purposes--United States, June 2007-May 2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2008; 57:1009.
  12. Mirza S, Richardson H. Otic barotrauma from air travel. J Laryngol Otol 2005; 119:366.
  13. Jones JS, Sheffield W, White LJ, Bloom MA. A double-blind comparison between oral pseudoephedrine and topical oxymetazoline in the prevention of barotrauma during air travel. Am J Emerg Med 1998; 16:262.
  14. Aerospace Medical Association Medical Guidelines Task Force. Medical Guidelines for Airline Travel, 2nd ed. Aviat Space Environ Med 2003; 74:A1.
  15. Vacanti JJ. Post-spinal headache and air travel. Anesthesiology 1972; 37:358.
  16. Bettes TN, McKenas DK. Medical advice for commercial air travelers. Am Fam Physician 1999; 60:801.
  17. Sheffield PJ. Flying after diving guidelines: a review. Aviat Space Environ Med 1990; 61:1130.
  18. Freiberger JJ, Denoble PJ, Pieper CF, et al. The relative risk of decompression sickness during and after air travel following diving. Aviat Space Environ Med 2002; 73:980.