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My wife would like to travel a few days before Christmas; she will be 30 weeks pregnant (from last period) at that moment. The policy of most airlines is that women that are between 28 and 36 weeks pregnant are allowed to travel, but ONLY if they have a medical certificate. (I assume that the airlines count the number of week from the last period, and not from fertilization - if I am mistaken please correct me!) This certificate has to be recent (a few days), so waiting until we have the certificate before booking the flight (around Christmas!) is not really an option. So to decide whether to book the ticket or not, we would like to know:

How common is it, for pregnant women, to be unable to use previously-booked airline tickets (in Russia/Europe) because of not getting such a "fit-to-fly" letter in time (or the airline not accepting it)? Feel free to share your experiences. Note that comments of the form "I know N times when this was attempted and it always worked" are just as helpful as comments of the form "I know someone who had problems for such-and-such reason" (to avoid publication bias!)

There are two ways things could go awry:

  • The doctor refuses to provide the certificate for genuine medical reasons. If we had a list of the most common contraindications for flying, we could of course research how likely to develop each of them is, and get a reasonable overall estimate. However, we do not know this. The airlines' terms and conditions are not very helpful in this respect: they provide only generic language (see excerpt below).

  • We could fail to get this form for bureaucratic reasons: e.g. the airline refuses the doctor's letter because it fails to meet some formal criteria, or the doctor asks us to do a series of tests that we cannot complete in time, or refuses to provide the letter until we clarify the too-generic language, etc. (If it matters, we currently live in Russia.)

Here are the relevant passages from the terms and conditions of two of the airlines we are considering. (They also have clauses that forbid flying after 36 weeks; but this is outside the scope of this question.)

Pobeda:

Women after the 28th week of pregnancy are allowed on flights ONLY when providing a medical certificate authorizing air travel, as well as a completed guarantee obligation in the check-in process.

Ryanair:

Expectant mothers are free to fly up to 28 weeks of pregnancy. Once an uncomplicated pregnancy reaches its 28th week we require expectant mothers to carry a ‘fit to fly’ letter completed by their midwife or doctor.

Download the fit to fly template letter here.

(Their "fit to fly template letter" asks only for generic informations: expected due date, a single checkbox for "the pregnancy is uncomplicated" and a single checkbox "the patient is fit to fly").

closed as primarily opinion-based by Giorgio, Traveller, user 56513, Rory Alsop, Ali Awan Nov 4 '18 at 5:47

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • There's no way we can give a meaningful answer to this. Just because some percentage of women can be certified fit to fly, it doesn't mean that your wife falls into that group. You should be talking to your wife's doctor who can examine her, not a bunch of strangers on the internet. – user79658 Nov 3 '18 at 17:19
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    One detail, pregnancy is counted "from conception", NOT from the (cough) last period. OK? Pregnancy means "pregnant" - it's that simple. You can edit that other stuff out if you like ! – Fattie Nov 3 '18 at 17:45
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    So you want to fly at 28 weeks pregnant. Is your return flight how many days after that? – Fattie Nov 3 '18 at 17:47
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    @IliaSmilga Then woudln't it be easier to just go both ways by train? – David Richerby Nov 3 '18 at 20:34
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    One final comment. The absolute bottom line here which I would say if you couple were real life friends, is, you should just forget this ill-conceived idea! Nobody cares about Christmas, your family will want to see baby when she comes! The LAST thing you want to do, is rush around on a trip, in the last parts of pregnancy. You want to sit on your ass and relax. Certainly your family (all the female ones certainly) would just say "why do this?" Just relax instead, friends!! – Fattie Nov 4 '18 at 5:55
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You want to fly at 28 weeks ("7 months out of 9 months") pregant.

Your question is a bit confusing. To try provide some rough answers:

  1. Per se, it's no big deal to fly at 7 months pregnant. Humans are tough

  2. My good wife would do it all the time, but she's awesome She never once had any sort of letter, form, etc.

  3. That being said, does your wife really want such a hassle? Why? If you have to "see your cousins" or some such, it can wait. Being pregnant is a great time to sit around and relax.

  4. You mention "booking ahead" etc. Unfortunately, put that out of your mind. That luxury does not exist. So, that's done. You can't "book ahead" more than say, four hours, if you're 7 months pregnant. "Booking ahead" is for 19 year old single people. Forget it - unfortunately that's the reality.

  5. Short flights are hugely different from long flights.

  6. Your question about "what are the odds" is unanswerable. Yes, as you suspect, such a form is a bit of a formality. It's no big deal. So long as your good wife is reasonably fit and not too old, it's a rubber-stamp situation.

To repeat, the key info here is ( ... being a parent is shocking in many ways; wait until you realize you can, eg, "never go out again" .. and that you have to "save $300,000 for college" .. and that you have to "start planning the next kids the day you have the first" ... !), just utterly forget the 'booking ahead' aspect. The way to think of it is, that was just a cute thing that used to happen when you were young and single. :) If you can't afford to book at the last minute, unfortunately, just forget it. (Unless your wife is incredibly young and incredibly fit.) It's absolutely impossible to know how your good wife will feel at that time and she understandably has absolute priority; she may just quite reasonably say "Who the heck wants to fly anywhere, let's relax at home," all the nicer!

Hope these generalizations help.


Footnote - note that, indeed, it appears you want to fly at "28 weeks".

In fact, coincidentally, that is indeed the "nominal cutoff" for airlines. Up to 28 weeks they couldn't care less and don't even ask, you're just a human being who happens to be pregnant.

I say "nominal" because .. who ever knows? Your doctor only just estimates the two dates.

It's very likely you could just fly with this never being an issue or even being asked about it.

Hint: many women who are expert at flying around while heavily pregnant, and know what they're doing, just rock up to the counter, and if even asked, they will say "why yes, I'm 27 weeks pregnant!"

  • If you say it is indeed a pure formality, that the risk is low, then why not book ahead? It all depends on the situation. For example, it is more sensible to pay ahead 100€ for a flight, with a 10% risk of having to additionally pay 300€ for a last-minute train; instead of waiting until the last minute and paying at least 200€ no matter what happens. – Ilia Smilga Nov 3 '18 at 19:05
  • "Hint: many women who are expert at flying around while heavily pregnant, and know what they're doing, just rock up to the counter, and if even asked, they will say 'why yes, I'm 27 weeks pregnant!'" -> don't the airlines ask for a certificate in such a case? (If you have any first-hand experience in the matter, this is precisely what I am looking for!) – Ilia Smilga Nov 3 '18 at 19:10
  • @IliaSmilga - for sure, I can only make a judgement call. You seem nervous about it, and it seems to be first time, and it's right on the edge of the "nominal limit". If you asked my advice I'd say "wait until later to book". You seem to be resisting the idea that heavily pregnant women don't book ahead. I would encourage you to take the idea on board and not resist it. It is SOP. You're talking about a pregnant woman .... of course you're going to have 200, 300, 900 euro expenses left, right and center. If you're not "with that" idea yet: get prepared now :) – Fattie Nov 4 '18 at 5:48
  • "first-hand experience" purely my personal experience with my own good wife and all our friends in our time frame, is nobody has ever, at all, ever, been asked for such a certificate in reality. BUT REGIONS, TIME FRAMES and AIRLINES VARY. I absolutely cannot advise you on how it would be "today" in "your nation". Sorry! – Fattie Nov 4 '18 at 5:50
  • Yes, of course there are going to be unexpected and possibly large expenses. But should one give up even trying to minimize them? The reason I am "resisting the idea" is simply because in this particular case, it does not make financial sense for me. How exactly will I benefit by having to buy an expensive last-minute ticket, as compared to buying a cheap one in advance and throwing it away if necessary? – Ilia Smilga Nov 4 '18 at 7:28

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