Can You Fly With Bronchitis Or Pneumonia? What You Need To Know

Flying while sick can be an uncomfortable experience. If you’re wondering whether it’s safe to fly with bronchitis or pneumonia, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with deciding if air travel is possible when dealing with respiratory illnesses.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: you can fly with bronchitis or mild pneumonia if your symptoms are improving and your doctor approves. However, severe cases of pneumonia and contagious bronchitis may mean you need to postpone your travels.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about air travel with bronchitis and pneumonia. You’ll learn about how altitude affects these conditions, when it’s safe to fly, tips for making your journey more comfortable, and what to do if your symptoms worsen mid-flight.

How Altitude Impacts Bronchitis and Pneumonia

When it comes to flying with bronchitis or pneumonia, understanding how altitude can impact these respiratory conditions is crucial. The change in altitude can exacerbate symptoms and potentially lead to further complications. Here’s what you need to know:

Lower oxygen levels

At higher altitudes, the air becomes thinner, which means there is less oxygen available for you to breathe. This can be particularly challenging for individuals with bronchitis or pneumonia, as their lungs are already compromised.

The lack of oxygen can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, and difficulty in breathing, making it more difficult to recover from these conditions.

Dry air

The air inside an airplane cabin is known to be dry, and this can have a drying effect on the respiratory system. For individuals with bronchitis or pneumonia, this can further irritate the airways and worsen symptoms such as coughing, throat irritation, and congestion.

Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the flight is essential to counteract the dryness of the air.

Cabin pressure changes

During takeoff and landing, the cabin pressure changes rapidly. This can affect the eardrums and sinuses, causing discomfort and pain, especially for individuals with respiratory conditions. The pressure changes can also impact the lungs, potentially leading to increased inflammation and further compromising respiratory function.

It is important to note that each individual’s experience may vary, and some people with bronchitis or pneumonia may be able to fly without significant issues. However, it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions regarding air travel with these conditions.

For more information on flying with respiratory conditions, you can visit reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the American Lung Association.

When Is It Safe to Fly with Bronchitis or Pneumonia?

When dealing with respiratory illnesses like bronchitis or pneumonia, it is important to consider the potential risks and complications associated with flying. While there is no definitive answer to whether it is safe or not, several factors should be taken into account before making a decision.


Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to your lungs. It can be caused by either a viral or bacterial infection and is characterized by symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

When it comes to flying with bronchitis, it is generally recommended to avoid air travel until the symptoms have improved. The changes in air pressure during flights can exacerbate symptoms and potentially lead to further complications.

Additionally, the close proximity to other passengers may increase the risk of spreading the infection.

If you must fly with bronchitis, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider beforehand. They can provide personalized advice and may recommend measures such as taking medication to manage symptoms or using a mask to limit the spread of infection.


Pneumonia is a more serious respiratory infection that affects the lungs. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi and is characterized by symptoms such as fever, chest pain, and difficulty breathing.

When considering flying with pneumonia, it is generally not recommended, especially if you have a severe case. Pneumonia can weaken the immune system and make you more susceptible to complications during the flight.

The changes in air pressure and reduced oxygen levels in the cabin can put additional strain on your lungs and potentially worsen your condition.

If you have mild pneumonia and need to fly, it is crucial to consult with your healthcare provider first. They can assess your condition and determine whether it is safe for you to travel. They may also provide recommendations on managing symptoms and reducing the risk of spreading the infection to others.

In any case, it is important to prioritize your health and follow the guidance of your healthcare provider when deciding whether to fly with bronchitis or pneumonia.

Tips for a More Comfortable Flight

Stay hydrated

One of the most important things you can do when flying with bronchitis or pneumonia is to stay hydrated. The dry air in the cabin can exacerbate your symptoms and make you feel even more uncomfortable.

Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your flight can help prevent dehydration and keep your airways moist. Additionally, avoiding alcohol and caffeinated beverages, which can dehydrate you, is recommended.

Remember, staying hydrated is not only good for your overall health but can also help alleviate some of the discomfort associated with respiratory illnesses during air travel.

Use a humidifier

Another way to combat the dry air in the cabin is by using a portable humidifier. These devices can add moisture to the air around you, making it easier to breathe and reducing the irritation in your throat and lungs.

Some airlines may have restrictions on using personal humidifiers, so it’s essential to check with the airline beforehand. However, many airlines now offer humidified cabins on certain flights, which can greatly enhance your comfort during the journey.

Try over-the-counter medications

If your symptoms are mild and your doctor approves, you may consider taking over-the-counter medications before your flight. Decongestants and cough suppressants can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with bronchitis or pneumonia, making your flight more comfortable.

However, it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking any medications, as they can provide specific recommendations based on your condition and any other medications you may be taking.

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes

When flying with bronchitis or pneumonia, it’s essential to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes. Tight clothing can restrict your breathing and cause discomfort, especially if you’re already experiencing respiratory symptoms.

Opt for breathable fabrics that allow for ease of movement and avoid tight waistbands or constrictive clothing items. Dressing in layers is also a good idea, as it allows you to adjust your clothing to the temperature on the plane.

Bring cough drops

Cough drops can be a lifesaver during a flight when you have bronchitis or pneumonia. They can help soothe your throat, suppress coughing, and provide temporary relief from discomfort. Pack a few packs of your favorite cough drops in your carry-on bag, making them easily accessible throughout the flight.

Remember to choose sugar-free options if you have any dietary restrictions or concerns.

What to Do if Symptoms Worsen Mid-Flight

If you are flying with bronchitis or pneumonia and your symptoms worsen mid-flight, it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure your well-being. Here are some actions you can take:

Let the flight crew know

First and foremost, inform the flight crew of your condition and any worsening symptoms. They are trained to handle medical emergencies and can provide assistance or alert the appropriate medical professionals on the ground if necessary.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help as they are there to ensure your safety and comfort during the flight.

Use supplemental oxygen if available

If the flight offers supplemental oxygen, it can be beneficial to use it if your breathing becomes more difficult. Supplemental oxygen can help alleviate some of the respiratory distress associated with bronchitis or pneumonia.

Consult with the flight crew to see if this option is available to you and how to properly use it.

Try to stay calm and rest

While it can be distressing to experience worsening symptoms mid-flight, it is important to try and remain calm. Stress and anxiety can exacerbate respiratory symptoms, so finding ways to relax and rest can be helpful.

Take deep breaths, try relaxation techniques, or distract yourself with a good book or movie to help pass the time and keep your mind off the discomfort.

Remember, if you are unsure about your ability to fly with bronchitis or pneumonia, it is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before your trip. They can provide personalized guidance based on your specific condition and medical history.

When to Postpone Your Travels

When it comes to traveling, it’s important to prioritize your health. If you have bronchitis or pneumonia, you may be wondering if it’s safe to fly. While there is no definitive answer that applies to everyone, there are some factors to consider before making your decision.

Severity of Symptoms

The severity of your symptoms plays a significant role in determining whether or not you should postpone your travels. If you are experiencing severe coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, or high fever, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider before flying.

These symptoms may indicate a more serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Spread of Infection

Another important consideration is the risk of spreading the infection to other passengers. Bronchitis and pneumonia are both respiratory infections that can be contagious. If you have a contagious form of bronchitis or pneumonia, it’s best to avoid flying until you are no longer contagious.

This not only protects other passengers but also allows you to rest and recover without the added stress of travel.

Air Pressure and Cabin Conditions

The air pressure and cabin conditions during a flight can have an impact on your respiratory system. The low humidity in airplane cabins can cause dryness and irritation in the nose and throat, which can exacerbate symptoms of bronchitis or pneumonia.

Additionally, the changes in air pressure during takeoff and landing can affect your ears, making the flight uncomfortable and potentially worsening any congestion you may have.

Consult with Your Healthcare Provider

Ultimately, the decision to fly with bronchitis or pneumonia should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider. They can assess the severity of your condition, provide appropriate treatment, and offer guidance on whether it is safe for you to travel.

They may also recommend additional precautions, such as wearing a mask during the flight to reduce the risk of spreading the infection.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s situation is unique, and what might be safe for one person may not be for another. Prioritize your health and well-being, and always seek professional advice when making decisions about traveling with a respiratory illness.


Air travel with bronchitis or pneumonia can be challenging, but is often possible if you take the proper precautions. While mild-to-moderate cases can usually fly, severe pneumonia or contagious bronchitis likely means you should postpone your trip.

Be sure to consult with your doctor, stay hydrated, use medications as needed, and let the flight crew know if your symptoms worsen. With the right preparation, you can manage your respiratory illness and have a safe, comfortable flight.

Similar Posts