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Air travel after a stroke

Deciding to fly after having a stroke is a very individual decision to make. You might want to discuss any potential risks with your doctor. You will also need to consider any practical issues, insurance and airline regulations.

When can I fly after a stroke?

It is recommended that you do not fly for the first 2-3 weeks after your stroke. After that it is best to get advice from your doctor about whether it is safe for you to fly. Check with your airline before you book to see what they recommend.

What help can I get when travelling with mobility difficulties?

Airport operators are required to provide assistance to allow anyone travelling with reduced mobility to board, get off and transfer between flights. Let the airline know in advance what help you are likely to need.

What help can I get if I have communication difficulties?

Understanding how your ability to communicate has been affected and the ways you use to communicate will help to identify what support you may need when flying.

  • Contact CHSS for a free ‘Aphasia Friendly’ wallet-sized card. This will alert airport staff and airline crews to the nature of your communication difficulty, and encourage others to speak slowly and clearly and to give you time to respond to any questions.
  • Take a written copy of your travel itinerary with you. This can be referred to by anyone you meet as you make your way through the airport.
  • If you are travelling alone take the contact details of someone close to you who can be called if any difficulties arise.
  • Transport or assistance within the airport can be provided for you if you arrange it in advance with the airline.

Can I take medical equipment on board?

Speak to your airline about taking items of medical equipment (such as oxygen) on board. Some airlines will not allow you to take your own oxygen supply on board, but they will provide this on request – there may be a charge for this.

  • Most airlines will carry medical equipment and up to two pieces of mobility equipment free of charge. Check this with your airline beforehand.
  • Let your airline know in advance if you are likely to exceed your hand luggage allowance by carrying medication or medical equipment. You may need to provide a doctor’s letter to support this.
  • Airline staff will provide some help whilst you are on board. However they are not able to provide individual personal care, and you may need to travel with a companion.

More information

The Airport Guides Network provide information to travellers who use the UK’s many airports, the Heathrow Airport Guide supplies information on what to consider if you are flying with a medical condition.