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Middle ear surgery and air travel

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

The following table is provided as a guide only to the timeframe that should elapse between a medical event and the intended flight. The timeframes may be changed following considered medical assessment of a specific case (2):


Assessment required by a doctor with aviation medicine experience

Accept as fit to fly if:


Otitis media and sinusitis

Acute illness or with loss of Eustachian function

If able to clear ears


10 days or less

Although it may be ok to fly between day 3 and 6, there is a significant risk of bleeding between day 1 and 2 and between day 7 and 10

Middle ear surgery

9 days or less

>= 10 days with medical certificate from treating ENT

Ex: Stapedectomy

For up to date advice then check current guidance (1,2).

Upper respiratory tract infection - relative contraindication to flying (3)

Dental surgery - flying is contraindicated for 2 to 5 days (4)


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


  • Civil Aviation Authority. Fitness to Fly (Accessed 1/8/19)
  • International Air Transport Association. Medical Manual 11th Edition (2018).
  • Doctor (April 2005). Ready Reckoner - fitness to fly.
  • 'Medical guidelines for air travel', Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, October 1996, 67, 10, 11.

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