Flying with asthma: Travel tips

Posted on April 8, 2013 by Guest Writer
Passport at the airport

Everyone should enjoy their holiday no matter their medical conditions, however a little extra planning is required when it comes to flying if you have asthma.

Asthma shouldn’t keep you grounded and prevent you from travelling – if the condition is under control, you’re physically fit and well prepared then flying should be just another part of your holiday.

A trip to your GP or asthma nurse and a plan to manage your medication and any equipment are the first steps to ensuring you have a good journey and a relaxing break. The following tips should help you put the finishing touches to your preparation for flying with asthma.

Before you fly

Reduced air pressure in aircraft cabins can cause breathing difficulties for some people with asthma. Depending on how severe your asthma is your doctor may arrange a ‘hypoxic challenge’ test, which will help determine how well you could cope with reduced air pressure on a plane.

If you require oxygen to travel then your airline can arrange this, but there may be a charge – mention rental when you purchase your ticket as most airlines only carry emergency supplies.

Finally, getting an asthma attack card will ensure strangers know what to do if you have an asthma attack and putting together a personal asthma action plan will help you recognise if your symptoms are worsening and alter your management accordingly.

At the airport

If you have severe asthma or breathing difficulties then extra assistance can be requested to travel around the airport and on the plane. Check with your airline at least 48 hours before you travel.

Carry your reliever inhaler with you and bring a spare one in case anything happens. Security staff may ask you to ‘taste’ your asthma medicine.

Departures Information Board

Medication

Pack all your medicines into a clear plastic bag in your hand luggage and have a copy of a prescription for each of them in case you are questioned at security. Inhalers are usually around 15-20ml, so are well within the 100ml allowance, and therefore can be taken into the cabin.

All asthma medication taken on board must be in its original packaging, with the prescription label and the contact details of the pharmacy clearly visible.

Carry all your asthma medication as hand luggage in case you’re checked luggage goes missing or is damaged in the baggage hold and bring spare inhalers. If for any reason you have to pack your inhaler in your checked luggage, make sure the crew put it in the heated area of the hold as the medicine could freeze in cold temperatures.

Equipment

Depending on how you manage your asthma, you may need to take certain equipment with you on holiday. Asthma UK offers the following advice when it comes to flying with asthma equipment:

If you use a peak flow meter take it with you so you can monitor your symptoms while you’re away. When flying, pack it in your checked luggage unless you’re only taking hand luggage in which case you may need to get the airline’s permission in advance to take a peak flow meter into the cabin.

While most people with asthma don’t require a nebuliser those that do need to remember that differing power points and voltages abroad will mean you’ll either need an adaptor, or a battery-powered nebuliser. You’ll also need to talk to the airline before you board if you’re likely to need to use your nebuliser while flying. Some airlines require printed information on the flight safety of a device, which the manufacturer can provide, and you won’t be able to use a nebuliser during take-off and landing.

Travel insurance with asthma

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