What every mum (or mum-to-be) needs to know about flying while pregnant

Woman taking a selfie

Yes! Hurrah! Of course you can travel while you are pregnant! There’s just a few rules you need to take note of before you take to the friendly skies and head somewhere to sun yourself and scoff a mocktail. Here’s more about those:

Fly free, pregnant lady!

If a pregnancy is complication free, flying is generally not harmful to a woman or her baby at all. There is no evidence that the changes in air pressure and/or the decrease in humidity are harmful to women and babies – and no evidence that flying causes waters to break, miscarriage or early labour.

That said, a woman should always chat to her doctor or midwife about travel plans. They can advise on what’s safe for mum and baby, and ensure all relevant paperwork is in order, too.

It’s important to check in with potential airlines to confirm their flying while pregnant rules (scroll down for rules from Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar).

Pregnant woman on plane

When is the safest time for pregnant women to fly

The UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says the safest time to fly is:

  • Before 37 weeks, if a woman is carrying one baby.
  • Before 32 weeks, if you are carrying an uncomplicated twin pregnancy.

But again, women should chat to their doctor or midwife about their own suitability to fly. Generally the second trimester – after morning sickness, but before those much-needed weekly check-ups – work best.

It’s also worth noting that falsifying your dates to fit a very last-minute babymoon in could end badly for everyone. We know you won’t do that. Some women have, though. So it’s good to mention it.

pregnant mama hands

Have a healthy flight!

For women on the move with a baby on board, the experts recommend booking an aisle seat to allow movement AND easy access to the loo. They also suggest:

  • Wear comfy clothing and comfy shoes.
  • Doing leg exercises to keep things moving whilst on the plane.
  • Discuss support stockings with your doctor or midwife, to keep your legs comfortable and circulation optimal.
  • Walking or moving around in the cabin during the flight, if there’s no turbulence.
  • Drinking plenty of water.
  • Check with the airline about taking healthy snacks on board – to help avoid salty or sugary flight food.
  • Avoiding alcohol and caffeine.
  • Wearing the provided seatbelt during the flight, positioning it under the baby bump.
  • Scope out the best health facilities where you are headed – and the best procedure to make contact with your insurer – in case you need to get medical assistance far from home.

One in 1000 pregnant women will develop Deep Vein Thrombosis on a flight, so adhering to these guidelines might help women avoid being that (unfortunate) statistical one.

pregnant woman

Fly smart

To ensure trips run smoothly and feel stress free, mums should note:

  • Women should have all their pregnancy paperwork with them in the cabin (see individual airline requirements below).
  • Women should have any required medication with them in their carry-on luggage, in case of lost or delayed luggage.
  • Women should ensure their travel insurance covers any pregnancy related complications.
  • Plan way ahead and beef up your health insurance, too.

pregnant mum in overalls


What are the airlines’ rules about flying while pregnant?

At time of publication, the following rules were in place to protect flying ladies and their babies:

Flying with Qantas during pregnancy

Qantas has the following policies to keep women and babies safe during pregnancy.

From 28 weeks: Women need to carry a letter from a registered midwife or medical practitioner confirming: their due date, whether its a single or multiple pregnancy and that the pregnancy is routine and complication-free. Women need to keep this letter with them at all times, including during the flight.
If you have pregnancy complications you need medical clearance to fly. This means your medical practitioner will need to complete a Travel Clearance Form and send it on to Qantas.

Long flights: Women can travel on Qantas flights that are 4 hours or longer until the end of the 36th week for single pregnancies, or the end of the 32nd week for multiple pregnancies.

Short flights: Women can travel on Qantas fights that are less than 4 hours in duration up until the end of the 40th week for single pregnancies and up until the end of the 32nd week for multiples.

Flying with Virgin during pregnancy

Virgin’s rules for flying whilst pregnant are fairly similar to Qantas, but importantly require a recently dated letter from a health practitioner. Virgin allow a bit more leeway on short flights for women carrying multiple babies.

From 28 weeks: Expectant mums need to carry a letter from a midwife or doctor confirming: their due date, whether its a single or multiple pregnancy and that the pregnancy is routine and complication-free – and that the woman is fit to fly. NOTE that this letter must be dated no more than 10 days prior to the travel date. If a woman has pregnancy complications they will need a medical clearance to fly. This means your medical practitioner should complete this Travel Clearance Form and send it back to Virgin.

Long flights: Women can travel on Virgin flights that are 4 hours or longer until the 36th week for single pregnancies, or the 32nd week for multiple pregnancies.

Short flights: Women can travel on Qantas fights that are less than 4 hours in duration up until the 40th week for single pregnancies and up until the 36th week for multiples.

Flying with Jetstar during pregnancy

Jetstar’s rules for flying whilst pregnant are a lot like Qantas’, but they require a medical clearance if a woman is carrying multiple babies. Women in their third trimester are not permitted to sit in an exit row seat on board any Jetstar aircraft, so don’t choose those seats. (See final paragraph for rules on Jetstar International flights.)

From 28 weeks: Expectant mums need to carry a letter from a midwife or doctor confirming: their due date, whether its a single or multiple pregnancy and that the pregnancy is routine and complication-free – and that the woman is fit to fly. If a woman has pregnancy complications or is expecting more than one baby, they will need a medical clearance to fly. This means your medical practitioner should complete this Travel Clearance Form and send it back to Jetstar.

Long flights: Women can travel on Jetstar flights that are 4 hours or longer until the 36th week for single pregnancies, or the 32nd week for multiple pregnancies. (See final paragraph for rules on Jetstar International flights.)

Short flights: Women can travel on Jetstar fights that are less than 4 hours in duration up until the 40th week for single pregnancies and up until the 36th week for multiples.

If you’re travelling on Jetstar Pacific, Jetstar Asia or Jetstar Japan, from 28 weeks you need a letter from your health practitioner confirming: their due date, whether its a single or multiple pregnancy and that the pregnancy is routine and complication free – and that the woman is fit to fly. NOTE that this letter must be dated no more than 10 days prior to the travel date. Jetstar Pacific doesn’t allow women to fly past their 35th week of pregnancy.


Pregnant woman on beach

Good to note:

  • Travel to high altitude areas is not recommended for pregnant women.
  • Scuba diving, water skiing, spas and saunas also pose risks to pregnant women.
  • Pregnant women should be especially vigilant when choosing food and drinks while travelling too.
  • Avoid destinations that have been flagged as high risk for contracting the Zika virus.

International flights

It’s important to note that if you are flying internationally, you need to check if the country you are entering has any rules about the entry of non-national pregnant passengers. Contact your travel agent or the appropriate embassy or consulate before you book your tickets, to be sure.

Airlines will have differing policies when it comes to flying whilst pregnant, so check with the relevant carrier before you book and pay for your tickets.

It’s really not recommended that pregnant women travel to developing countries, if they can help it, due to the risk of disease and possible sub-standard medical facilities. Many vaccines pose a risk to unborn babies, so women may be especially vulnerable to disease.

What if a woman goes into labour during a flight?

There is a small chance of going into labour early during a flight. The pilot may divert the flight to allow the woman to deliver. Crew/passengers will care for the woman until the plane lands.

Don’t panic though! This can almost always be avoided by following the above sensible guidelines and making allowances for the extra little traveller who’s tucked away on your trip!

Happy (pregnant) flying!

Subscribe to Babyology

Our email newsletters keep you up to date with what’s happening on Babyology.

We also have special newsletter-only offers and competitions that are exclusive to Babyology subscribers.

Sign up below:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.