The Rules Airlines Follow for Pregnant Passengers
Six months into pregnancy and I am ready for a vacation. As my husband and I started thinking about our last trip as a kid-free couple, I realized that the rules on booking a flight during my third trimester were not as simple as asking my doctor’s permission—I had to get my airline’s blessing as well. It turns out some airlines are surprisingly lenient while others err on the side of caution. Sure, there are some annoying airline policies out there, but when it comes to the safety of my unborn baby I don’t mind playing by the rules.
But if there isn’t a set of airline guidelines for pregnant travelers, how can we mothers-to-be know which ones are right for us and our little buns in the oven?
To make it easy we’ve broken the policies down for you, airline by airline, below. These rules cover restrictions for expectant mothers who are pregnant with one child and traveling either within the U.S. or internationally.
As with any pregnancy-related activity, please talk to your doctor before booking any trips.
While Air France suggests that expectant mothers avoid travel during the final month of pregnancy, the airline has no restrictions for pregnant travelers. In fact the airline's website even encourages traveling while pregnant, offering helpful suggestions on how to stay comfortable during your journey including reserving an aisle seat and wearing your seatbelt below your abdomen.
Alitalia asks all expectant mothers to fill out the standard Medical Information Form, section E, pages 1 and 3, and carry it with them when they fly. The airline advises pregnant women not to fly after their 8th month of pregnancy, but will allow them onboard if they have a medical note in addition to their Medical Information Form.
Whether she is traveling within the U.S., or to Canada, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Airlines will not allow a pregnant woman to board one of their aircrafts if she’s within seven days of her baby’s due date.
When flying internationally, AA doesn’t advise expectant mothers to fly within 30 days (approximately 4 weeks) of their due date. If they need to travel during that time, they will be required to visit their doctor less than 48 hours before their flight and obtain a letter that states they are medically fit for flying. If a pregnant woman needs to travel within 10 days of her baby’s due date, she must receive authorization from AA’s Special Assistance Team in addition to a letter from her doctor.
After 28 weeks of pregnancy, British Airways requires expectant mothers to carry a medical certificate (including a letter and pregnancy record) confirming her due date and a note saying that it’s safe to fly. Pregnant women will not be allowed to board a BA flight after 36 weeks of pregnancy.
At 29 weeks of pregnancy and beyond, Cathay Pacific requires a doctor’s note dated no more than 10 days before an expectant mother’s first flight. The note should state whether it’s a single or multiple pregnancy, her estimated week of pregnancy, her estimated due date, and that she is in good health and fit to travel. Pregnant women are not allowed to fly after the 36th week of pregnancy.
Whether flying internationally or within the U.S., Delta imposes no restrictions on pregnant travelers. The airline’s website cautions however that ticket change fees apply to everyone, including expectant mothers.
JetBlue allows expectant mothers to fly up to seven days before baby’s due date, no questions asked. After that, they must have a medical note from their doctor stating that it’s safe for them to fly. All notes must be dated within 72 hours of flight departure.
After their 28th week of pregnancy, Lufthansa asks expectant mothers to carry a doctor’s note stating their due date, confirming that they’ve had no complications with pregnancy, and noting that it is safe for them to fly. Lufthansa advises all pregnant women to wear compression socks to prevent thrombosis while aboard all flights, and won’t allow them to fly past the end of their 36th week of pregnancy.
After 28 weeks of pregnancy, Singapore Airlines requires a doctor’s note dated no more than 10 days before an expectant mother’s first flight. The note must state how far along she is, her estimated due date, and that she is fit to travel. After 36 weeks, pregnant women will not be allowed to fly.
Southwest doesn’t restrict travel for pregnant women, but may ask expectant mothers sitting in an exit row to switch seats with someone more “agile” (according to their website).
If traveling during her ninth month of pregnancy, an expectant mother will need a doctor’s note—plus two photocopies—stating that it’s safe for her to fly and specifying both her baby’s due date and the date of the last flight on her itinerary. United asks that the note be dated within 72 hours of flight departure.
As with JetBlue, Virgin America will allow you to fly until seven days before baby’s due date. After that, you will be asked to provide a medical note from your doctor dated within 72 hours of your departure.
Between 28 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, expectant mothers are asked to carry a doctor’s note that states their estimated delivery date, and confirms that they have no complications with pregnancy and are safe to fly. After 36 weeks, Virgin Atlantic will only allow you on board if you’re traveling for urgent or compassionate reasons, at which time you will need to seek approval from Virgin’s medical advisors as well as from your doctor.