Air travel

Latest update: - Authors: Mieke Croughs, Ula Maniewski-Kelner

The air pressure in an aeroplane decreases when the aeroplane climbs to altitude and increases again when the aeroplane descends. During the flight, the pressure in an aeroplane is about the same as at an altitude of 1400 to 2000 metres. These pressure changes often cause ear or sinus problems. Sitting for prolonged periods can cause oedema and deep vein thrombosis
The low oxygen pressure can cause problems in individuals with conditions affecting the heart, lungs or blood (vessels).


COVID-19 measures

Tourist air travel is allowed, but measures have been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These may vary from country to country and airline to airline. Check the travel advice for each country and the updates of the airline you are flying with.

Health problems?

Discuss with your doctor whether special measures are required. If there are any doubts, your doctor can consult with the medical advisor of the airline in question.  

The airline can provide a wheelchair or oxygen supply. This must be arranged at least 48 hours prior to departure, with the airline that you are travelling with.

Do not sit still for long periods

Move your feet often, get up regularly and walk around.

Also check our advice to prevent deep vein thrombosis.


Wear loose clothing and loose, comfortable shoes or slippers.

Ear and sinus problems

The pressure changes while ascending and descending can cause ear and sinus problems.


After a long flight across different time zones you may suffer from jet lag.

Decompression sickness

In order to prevent decompression sickness, you must not dive within twelve hours after a flight and you must not fly within 24 hours after a decompression dive (or twelve hours after a non-decompression dive).


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