Flying with chickenpox – airline policies reveal if you or your child will be allowed to board your flight this summer
Has chickenpox (chicken pox) struck just days before your holiday? Read on to find out what to do next and if it could impact your ability to fly with the UK’s busiest airlines.
Suspicious blister appeared? Don’t panic just yet – here’s our at-a-glance guide to finding out the implications for your travel plans. Find out what your airline’s chickenpox policy is right here.
What the airlines say about flying with chickenpox
At-a-glance guide to flying with chickenpox
Here’s all you need to know about what happens next when the ‘spots’ strike as you prepare to head off on your hols.
Can I fly with chickenpox?
Airlines have the right to refuse travel to anyone who is unwell, or who its agents suspect may be contagious.
Sufferers who’ve passed the contagious stage, but are still showing signs of ‘infection’ such as spots, should carry a letter from their doctor confirming they are no longer at risk of spreading the disease.
Typically, if you or your child has chickenpox, you could be barred from boarding unless all your blisters have turned to scabs. However guidelines differ widely across major airlines.
Use our list of airline policies for guidance, but we’d advise calling your carrier for advice ahead of departure day.
Here are the all-important airline policies you’ll need to check if chickenpox strikes one of your party.
Sufferers are allowed to fly seven days after the appearance of first spot.
BA advises no travel until six days after the last spot appears. Sufferers will also need a GP’s letter stating they’re no longer infectious.
Sufferers will need to wait seven days after the last spot appears.
Travel ‘unacceptable’ if active lesions are present. Passengers can fly six days after last blister/spot appears with all remaining eruptions crusted and dried.
Anyone suffering from chickenpox will be asked to complete a ‘Meda’ form and wait for a decision from the airline. Those with active spots are unlikely to be given permission to fly.
Jet2 Passengers must wait seven days after first spot appeared to be considered for boarding. They’ll also need a ‘Fit to Fly’ letter from their GP.
You’ll be fit to board if all scabs are dry and you have a GP’s letter to confirm you’re not contagious.
If any spots are visible at the time of travel, you’ll need a doctor’s letter to confirm you or the child are no longer contagious – or face being refused permission to board.
Don’t expect permission to board if you have active lesions – all must be dried and crusted. Doctor’s letter is advised.
Passengers will only be allowed to travel seven days after the appearance of the last new blister/spot.
Passengers are ‘advised’ not to travel during the infectious stage. The airline’s advice on this is: “Once the rash begins to dry-up and the blisters form dry scabs the patient is no longer infectious.”
Travellers with Thomson will need to wait seven days from the appearance of their last new spot.
Passengers are fine to fly if it has been seven days since the last new spots, the existing crop are crusted/scabbed and they don’t have a fever.
Anyone with chickenpox will need a letter from their doctor confirming they are no longer contagious. This must have been issued within six days of the flight date. Call 03309770444 for more.
What about getting into your destination country?
Passing customs checks at the destination could also prove problematic for chickenpox sufferers. Countries, such as America, have strict policies governing arrivals with contagious diseases. Check with the destination country before you fly and see what stipulations it might enforce. Travelling with a GP’s letter confirming you, or a child, is no longer infectious should help your case in most destinations.
Use this list of contact numbers for international embassies in the UK to find information on entry restrictions for your destination country. Find the list here.
Take out travel insurance with cancellation cover – when you book
Leaving travel insurance until the day before you fly makes no sense and could cost thousands. Buy cover when you book and it’s likely you’ll be covered for the cost of cancellation due to chickenpox, should the virus strike a member of your party. Cancellation cover usually has a period of time before protection becomes active, so getting it at the time of booking is the only way to ensure your trip is underwritten.
Your at-a-glance guide to chickenpox
Here’s a quick guide to how the infection is spread and how to ease the symptoms.
What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox causes an itchy, spotty rash and is a common illness that predominantly targets children.
Who can get chickenpox?
Most children will catch chickenpox at some point – and many parents actively encourage this at an early age – but it can also occur in adults who did not have it as a child.
It can be dangerous for some people, such as pregnant women, newborn babies and people with a weakened immune system.
Most people will become immune to it after one attack.
When is chickenpox contagious?
Those infected with chickenpox are contagious 1-2 days before the first spots/blisters appear and then until all the resulting lesions have scabbed or crusted over. This is usually around five days after the last spot appears.
How is chickenpox spread?
The infection is spread in the fluid found in the chickenpox blisters and droplets in sneezes and coughs of someone with the infection.
Chickenpox can be caught from:
- Contaminated surfaces
- Contaminated objects
- Touching the blisters caused by chickenpox
- Face-to-face contact with an infected person – this includes having a conversation
- Being in the same area/room as an infected person for 15 minutes or more.
How can I ease the symptoms of chickenpox?
Having chickenpox will leave you or your child feeling uncomfortable but there are a few at-home treatments that can help relieve the symptoms:
- Use paracetamol to relieve fever and discomfort – make sure you use age-appropriate products such as Calpol for children, and do not exceed stated dosage
- Use moisturising creams to ease itching
- Do not scratch the skin – instead tap or pat – scratching can lead to further problems
- Stay hydrated – drink plenty of fluids
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