Most airlines won't let you onboard once you're past 34 weeks of pregnancy -- at least not without a special...
Most airlines won't let you onboard once you're past 34 weeks of pregnancy -- at least not without a special note from a doctor saying that you're in good shape to travel and/or that the situation is urgent. (Also remember that if you look huge, even at 28 weeks, you might be questioned by airline staff.) So what's the big deal? Mostly -- it's all about money. Lawsuit money and loss of revenue money. See, the odds of you going into labor naturally grow greater the closer you are to term. And a woman in labor constitutes a medical emergency... so if you go into labor while the plane is in the air, they might have to turn back or land somewhere else in order to get you to a hospital... and this means delays for everyone and lost revenue for the airline. Then, what if something happens on the flight when you're in labor... like you hit a patch of turbulence? The ambulance -- and the ambulance chasers -- will meet you at the gate, that's what. Here's how three different airlines explain their policies on expectant passengers:
American Airlines: A medical certificate is required if you will be traveling within 4 weeks of your delivery date in a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy. For domestic flights under 5 hours, travel is not permitted within 7 days before and after your delivery date.For international travel or any flights over the water, travel is not advised within 30 days of the due date, unless you are examined by an obstetrician within 48 hours of outbound departure and certified in writing as medically stable for flight. Travel within 10 days of the due date for International travel must have clearance from our Special Assistance Coordinators. Travel within 7 days after delivery requires clearance as well. Southwest Airlines: Strongly recommends against air travel after the 38th week of pregnancy. Depending on physical condition, strength, and agility, pregnant women may, in some cases, be asked not to sit in an emergency exit seat. Hawaiian Airlines: Will not transport a passenger expecting delivery within 7 days, unless the passenger has a doctor's certificate dated within 72 hours of the actual flight departure stating that the passenger has been examined and will not require any extraordinary medical attention during the flight. If, however, on the day of departure, Hawaiian Airlines feels that the passenger does not seem fit to fly, the decision to accept the passenger will be made only after medical personnel are contacted, the passenger is examined and cleared take the flight.As you can see, there isn't a universal standard set by the FAA, so you will want to check with the airline you're planning to fly about their pregnant passenger policy before you buy your ticket. One mom-to-be, Lori, wrote of traveling at 32 weeks:
In my case, my doctor approved the travel, but wasn't too thrilled about it and let me know that this was absoluely the last trip I could take until after the baby was born, with the exception of short car trips lasting no more than a couple of hours in duration, maximum. I also got hassled at the airport on my way back Sunday morning. Although I was allowed to pre-board Saturday night's flight, I don't think the crew at that particular airport was really paying enough attention to really see how far along I am in my pregnancy... or if they did, they weren't really all that concerned. At the airport in Kentucky, however, I had to sign a form stating that I was... ahem... only 7 months along (so I fudged a bit because I knew they might not let me on the plane otherwise without a doctor's note, which I didn't have because I forgot to ask for one at my appointment) and that if I went into labor on the plane and something happened I wouldn't sue the airline.Of course, we don't recommend evading the authorities. Do whatever you can to get your travel over with before the second trimester is up. Because when you go into labor, you will definitely want to be safe and sound and on the ground. Before you take off, here are some articles that may be of interest: