neurological disorders and flying

Last edited 08/2019 and last reviewed 09/2022

  • epilepsy - contraindications to flying include frequent or uncontrolled fits, or a within 24 hours of a grand mal fit. Passengers with a history of a loss of consciousness or infrequent fits should be accompanied by a responsible companion. The patient should be advised that air travel may precipitate fits due to a variety of reasons e.g. fatigue, disturbance of circadian rhythm

  • skull fracture or brain surgery - flying should be avoided for 10 to 14 days to allow absorption of any air that may be inside the skull due to trauma or surgery

  • stroke - in general, flying is contraindicated for 7 to 10 days following a ischaemic stroke (2). Flying is contraindicated for 14 days following a haemorrhagic stroke (2). Oxygen may be required

  • TIA - may be accepted as fit to fly if
    • after 2 days and proper investigation (3)

Note that these are only guidelines and each airline has its own regulations and medical standards.


  1. 'Medical guidelines for air travel', Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, October 1996, 67, 10, 11.
  2. Doctor (April 2005). Ready Reckoner - fitness to fly.
  3. International Air Transport Association. Medical Manual 11th Edition (2018).