Frequently asked questions about Medical Information
General questions about flying and health
There are hardly any technical measures to deal with the low air humidity. Tonnes of water would be needed to increase the humidity in the cabin even slightly. This would make flying uneconomical because corrosion damage to the aircraft would cause high maintenance costs.
You can offset the low humidity on board by drinking plenty of fluids (for example still water, tea and fruit juices).
The most important technique to equalise the pressure is the so-called Valsalva manoeuvre: Hold your nose, close your mouth and force air into the back of your throat. This opens the Eustachian tube and equalises the pressure.
As a precaution, you can use a nasal decongestant spray in both nostrils about half an hour before the aircraft leaves cruising altitude. This will free up the connecting passages between the sinuses and the middle ear, and equalise the pressure between the middle ear and the surrounding air.
You can also speed up the pressure equalisation by making chewing movements. It’s best to take a couple of pieces of chewing gum with you. You can also improve the pressure equalisation by making yourself yawn.
If you have a chronic inflammatory illness of the sinuses, you should visit your doctor before the flight.
General tips to prevent jet lag
During your flight
- Set the time of your watch to the time of the destination while you are in the aircraft. This way you can mentally adjust to the new time.
- Try to follow the rhythm of life in the destination, i.e. eat at local times at your destination and only go to bed when the sun sets.
- Try to get enough sleep the first night after you arrive.
- Wherever possible, avoid tiring activities on the first two days after landing so that your body has time to get used to the new rhythm.
- Try not to take sleeping pills and melatonin since these confuse the body.
- Spend as much time as possible outdoors – daylight helps you get used to the new time more quickly.
- For short trips, stick to the day-night rhythm at home – this way you avoid "double" jet lag.
- If possible, stay at home for one or two days after your trip so you can get back to your normal rhythm in your own time.
Before the trip
- Try to get used to the new daily routine partially a couple of days before the trip by going to bed one or two hours later.
- Plan to arrive where possible around lunchtime so that you can take advantage of the brightest hours of daylight.
- Plan important events or meetings in the destination country at a time of day when you feel most awake, i.e. in the morning after a flight westwards.
During your flight
- Try to stay awake during your flight.
- Move around and drink plenty of non-alcoholic drinks to fight the natural urge to sleep.
- Eat protein-rich foods (cheese, fish, meat, eggs and dairy products) as these help you to stay awake longer.
- Do not give in to the urge to sleep. Go to bed only after sunset in your destination country.
- Try to stay in daylight. Light inhibits the production of the hormone melatonin, which makes you tired and gets your body ready for sleep.
Before the trip
- Try to adapt to the new daily routine a few days before the trip, i.e. go to bed and get up earlier.
- Plan important activities at a time of day when you feel most awake, i.e. in the evening after a flight eastwards.
During your flight
- Try to sleep during the flight.
- Eat carbohydrate-rich food (e.g. vegetables, carrots, spaghetti, rice, yogurt and fruit juices) as they naturally stimulate the need to sleep.
- Fruit teas can also make you sleepy.
- Try autogenic training or relaxation exercises instead of sleeping pills.
- Avoid alcohol to make you tired; it works more quickly on board than on the ground, dehydrates the body and also prevents your metabolism from getting used to the new time zone.
Before the trip
- You can train your body for a difference in temperature by visiting saunas frequently before your trip.
- Intermittent hot and cold showers can also improve your circulation.
- Sunbeds can also prepare the skin for increased sunlight but do not affect your biorhythm.
- Wear clothes suitable for the climate at your destination when leaving the aircraft if possible. When travelling to sunny countries, think about a head covering as well.
- Heavily overweight travellers and those with a heart or lung condition should avoid strenuous physical activity for the first days after a flight.
- Depending on the expected humidity at the destination, you should make a conscious effort to drink fluids in order to help your body get used to the temperature. The rule is: The drier the air, the more you should drink.
The most frequent cause of pressure equalisation problems are infections with colds and inflammation of the tissues in the nose and throat. If you have pressure equalisation problems, you should consult an ENT specialist or your doctor.
After individual dives, you should wait 24 hours before flying. If you do multiple dives every day, you should not dive for 48 hours before departure.
On Austrian Airlines flights pregnant women may fly up to and including the 36th. week of pregnancy without any problems. The condition is that there must not have been any previous complications. Flying is absolutely not recommended with any risky pregnancy! Any flight during pregnancy should be discussed with your gynaecologist or doctor since there is an increased risk of deep-vein thrombosis (for more information please see Travel thrombosis).
We ask passengers to seek doctor’s advice about their fitness to fly after:
- severe illnesses/diseases
- hospital admissions
If you have any doubts, please write to the Special Cases Desk:
Fax: +43 5 1766 51043
No medical certificate is required
- for passengers with a disability which has been present from birth or which has not changed for a long time
- for passengers who need to use a wheelchair due to injury to the musculoskeletal system (inflammatory or degenerative) as a result of an illness (e.g. MS or brittle bone disease). You can find more information on our Barrier-free travelling page
- for passengers with mild forms of chronic obstructive bronchitis and asthma, without attacks, who are under treatment with their own medication and if the doctor does not consider it necessary for them to be provided with oxygen on board
- after a heart attack which took place several weeks ago and is now without complications, providing the treating cardiologist has not expressed any concerns.
Due to the security regulations in some countries, we recommend bringing a doctor’s certificate for pacemakers or implanted metal parts (e.g. artificial joints). Always make yourself known to security control staff in advance.
A medical fit to fly certificate from the medical service of Austrian Airlines is required:
- after major surgery
- in the first weeks after the onset of a severe illness
- for passengers who are transported on board lying down
- for passengers who require additional oxygen or other medical devices on board
- for passengers travelling for medical treatment
In these cases, it is essential that you write to our Special Cases Desk at email@example.com.
The Medical Care Form provides the basic information for a medical fit to fly certificate. Please have this completed by your doctor.
Make your flight easier with the Frequent Travellers Medical Card (FREMEC): All the important information about your treatment is on the card and it replaces the MEDIF Form you would otherwise fill in for every flight.
Tick the relevant tick box to save your requirements.
Our service package for passengers with restricted mobility or sensory perception on direct flights to or from the USA is compatible with Regulation 14 CFR, DOT382.
We have specially trained contact partners, Complaint Resolution Officials (CROs), in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Washington and Vienna.
How to contact our CROs
- Vienna: +43 5 1766 1000 (the call centre forwards your request to the CRO)
- Chicago, Miami, New York and Washington: +1 800-843-0002 (call centre)
You can find the Aviation Consumer Protection Division on http://www.dot.gov/airconsumer
Medical care on board
With the time difference, it can be more difficult to take medication that needs to be taken at regular intervals. If you have to take medication at regular intervals, we recommend you consult your doctor before a flight that crosses one or more time zones.
Medication in your hand luggage
Medication should be packed so as to resist impact and as far as possible your medication requirements should be distributed in different pieces of hand luggage. It is advisable to take one and a half to two times the medicine you need in your hand luggage. This is in case your flight is unexpectedly diverted or departure is delayed for a long time – even if you are already sitting in the aircraft. Please be aware that your medication cannot be refrigerated on board. It can be cooled on board with a cooling pack or with dry ice.
Going through customs with medication
When taking medication and syringes in your hand luggage, it is advisable to take a medical certificate with you to confirm that it is your essential personal medication.
If you lose your medication
In case your medication is lost on your trip or at your destination, you should get a note from your doctor with a summary of your blood type and other important health information, including the dosage of your medication and its generic name (non-patented, international name of the medication). Also take the documentation you need to obtain a prescription in a foreign country. Find out more about this from your doctor or health insurance provider.
To ensure adequate contraception you are safer taking an additional contraceptive pill when travelling westwards if there is a time difference of more than six hours. We recommend you speak to your doctor about this beforehand.
Travel sickness medication
As a preventative measure you can take non-prescription medication such as travel chewing gum which reduce the associated symptoms of travel sickness such as tiredness and loss of concentration. To suppress nausea there are also drugs which require a prescription because of their potential severe side effects.
MEDA is a term for illnesses from a wide range of causes for which medical authorisation is required from the airline’s medical team in accordance with international air transport rules.
There are standard recommendations for medical equipment on board throughout Europe (an Emergency Medical Kit – a type of doctor’s bag, a first aid kit and an on-board pharmacy which contains some helpful medication for every-day use).
Bottles with gaseous oxygen for medical purposes may be transported as hand luggage or checked baggage. The bottle may weigh a maximum of 5 kg gross and must not be used on board. The carriage of liquid oxygen is prohibited. Passengers may use their own POC (portable oxygen concentrator) on board under certain conditions, providing it has been checked and approved by an Austrian Airlines technician for flight safety. Please notify us if you plan to carry an oxygen bottle or portable oxygen concentrator by using our Contact form.
For additional medical oxygen on our flights we provide Wenoll, WS120. The charges per flight are EUR 175 on short and medium-haul routes and EUR 350 on long-haul flights.
Please note that WS120
- is not available for children under six and is not
- currently available in Business Class on B777 and B767
You can order your special menu (dietary menus, vegetarian menus, children’s menus etc.) either straight away when making your reservation or no later than 48 hours before departure. Online bookers have the option to enter their menu requests immediately upon booking completion.
You are not permitted to fly with any infectious diseases. Passengers with pressure equalisation problems in the ENT area caused by infection put their health at risk if the pressure equalisation is impaired or disrupted. If a swelling with pressure equalisation problems due to an infection occurs during the flight, you should take decongestant medications to prevent or relieve the symptoms.
Yes, unless the treating doctor advises against this and providing an anticoagulant “lege artis” (compliant with medical practice) has been carried out. The cast is set loosely in the first few days due to the swelling of the leg. Please inform us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a plaster cast or splint on your leg. If you cannot bend your leg because the cast or splint covers your knee, a “leg support” must be booked for safety reasons, which requires two additional seats to be reserved and paid for.
Passengers suffering from sleep apnoea require medical clearance.
In both cases a medical check-up and a detailed consultation with the treating doctor are required before the flight. You must be confirmed fit to fly by our medical service using the (MEDIF = Medical Fit to Fly Certificate) form. Parts 1 and 2 of the MEDIF must be completed by the treating doctor and sent to our Special Cases Desk (email@example.com). An additional oxygen supply must often be requested at the place of booking. Please include this information when making your reservation. The costs incurred will be added to your bill.
As a diabetic, you should create a personalised medication plan for your trip with your doctor, especially if it is a long-haul flight. We recommend you consult your doctor. As a diabetic, on flights that serve food you will receive food especially adapted to your diet, providing you inform us at least 24 hours before departure.
In principle, yes. It is recommended that you consult your cardiologist. You should always take your pacemaker ID with you.
Medical transport will be denied if
- medical complications for the sick person may be anticipated during the flight due to their poor general condition
- the passenger requires medical care and this cannot be provided
- the treating doctor refuses to provide any information about the illness
- infectious illnesses could be passed on to other passengers