Too Sick to Fly? When to Put Yourself on the 'No Fly' List
She'd flown with a bad cold and sinus congestion, which made it difficult to equalize the pressure in her ears. After her doctor told her she'd nearly torn the lining between the inner and outer ear, and suggested she stay away from planes for a few weeks, she grounded herself.
"My hearing is too precious to risk," says Margolis, who runs a travel Web site in
Not everyone makes the same choice. A recent poll by TripAdvisor suggests 51 percent of air travelers say they'd rather fly while infected with the flu than pay a
That's something worth considering as we approach the peak of the flu season. For every Margolis, there's at least one other passenger who refuses to cancel. Like Amanda, who asked me not to reveal her last name. She flew with the flu, even though she didn't want to.
"I called Southwest to bump my flight by a day, and while the rep was kind, she couldn't do anything but offer me the opportunity to pay the
WHEN SHOULD YOU ADD YOURSELF TO THE "NO-FLY" LIST?
When Your Doctor Tells You To Stay Home
"Some symptoms are just too high-risk to consider flying at all," says
IF THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL SAYS SO
The CDC won't necessarily come out and say, "Don't fly if you have such-and-such," but it does publish a helpful page on infectious diseases it's trying to shield travelers from. Certainly, it's safe to assume that if you have something like Tuberculosis, you might want to check yourself into a hospital instead of board a plane. The CDC site has suggestions to help avoid the spread of Swine Flu that should also be heeded.
IF YOU'RE ON THE SICK LIST
The list comes to us courtesy of
IF YOU CAN'T GET AROUND MUCH ANYMORE
"Generally speaking, someone should not fly if they are unable to walk about 150 feet or climb one flight of stairs without becoming short of breath," says
IF YOU'RE REALLY NERVOUS
The worsening of an underlying anxiety condition can be a cause for cancellation, too, according to
Another thing to consider is the return trip. If you're feeling unwell now, and decide to fly anyway, could your condition worsen by the time you're ready to return?
"It is good practice to only travel when you are well," he says. "If you have a symptoms of illness, you should address these concerns prior to travel, particularly if you plan to travel internationally. It is important to consider that your symptoms may worsen while on a trip, and this may require you to seek medical attention locally."
That's all well and good, but it would help if the travel industry -- particularly airlines -- loosened their onerous change rules when a customer fell ill. On legacy carriers, change fees and fare differentials often exceed the value of the original ticket, forcing passengers to choose between flying sick or throwing a ticket away.
No one should have to make that choice.
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(c) 2010 Christopher Elliott
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