Flying Home

This information is sourced from Hospice UK and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

Most patients will be able to fly safely. The key requirement is to be able to transfer from a wheelchair to a seat, to sit upright for take-off and landing and to be able to disembark the airline (with the support of a travelling companion if required).

Some people may require additional measures such as in-flight supplementary oxygen.

Health professionals may be asked to complete a MEDIF form which allows the medical information to be considered by the airline medical advisors who provide advice and “clear” passengers as 'fit to fly'.

The key information they require is:

  • the nature of the individual’s condition and its severity/stability,
  • medication being taken and oxygen needs
  • information about mobility.
  • CPR status - i.e. will the plane need diverting in an emergency

The majority of in-flight emergencies occur when an individual's medical condition is unknown to the airline.

If the patient is in the terminal phase of an illness, the airline medical advisor will require an estimate of prognosis. Airlines have protocols for deaths in flight and most airlines are prepared to take the risk if the patient and their carers are prepared to agree to these plans.

The final decision whether to carry a passenger is that of the airline, but the more information that is provided, the more likely it is that a reasonable decision can be made.

The publication Flying Home from Hospice UK was originally written to help with arrangements for ‘final journeys’. However, much of the information also applies to those who would like to take a holiday when seriously ill. It contains useful checklists towards the back of the publication.

The Aviation Health Unit (AHU) does offer advice to UK doctors and other health professionals who have queries about individual patients.

Flying back to the country of birth is often a spiritual journey for many.


Hospice UK: Flying home

Published 13th September 2017

UK Civil Aviation Authority - Guidance for health professionals

Published 1st April 2022


Related Articles

28th December 2023

Discussing CPR with patients