Fitness to Fly

Air travel and your health.

Flying with a medical condition? You may need to apply for medical clearance, or a MEDIF form.

Traveling with children will require extra thought and planning. Many travel-related vaccinations and preventive medicines that are used for adults are not recommended for young children.

Talk with your child’s doctor about your travel plans.
Although air travel is safe for healthy newborns, infants, and children, a few issues should be considered in preparation for travel. Children with chronic heart or lung problems may be at risk for hypoxia during flight, and a clinician should be consulted before travel. Making sure that children can be safely restrained during a flight is a safety consideration. Severe turbulence or a crash can create enough momentum that a parent cannot hold onto a child:
•    Children should be placed in a rear-facing Federal Aviation Authority–approved child-safety seat until they are aged ≥1 year and weigh ≥20 lb (9 kg).
•    Children aged ≥1 year and 20–40 lb (9–18 kg) should use a forward-facing Federal Aviation Authority–approved child-safety seat.
•    Children who weigh >40 lb (18 kg) can be secured in the aircraft seat belt.
Ear pain can be troublesome for infants and children during descent. Pressure in the middle ear can be equalized by swallowing or chewing:
•    Infants should nurse or suck on a bottle.
•    Older children can try chewing gum.
•    Antihistamines and decongestants have not been shown to be of benefit.
There is no evidence that air travel exacerbates the symptoms or complications associated with otitis media. Travel to different time zones, jet lag, and schedule disruptions can disturb sleep patterns in infants and children, as well as in adults.