You are in a plaster cast and you are planning to travel by plane. Remember that flying with a plaster cast is not allowed. There are international rules about flying with a cast and under what circumstances you can and cannot fly with a cast. Read what you need to know if you are wearing or need to wear a cast.
Cast may pinch due to swelling
Because you are in an aircraft cabin, the part of your body covered by a plaster cast may swell. This can cause the cast to pinch and squeeze blood vessels. This can increase the risk of thrombosis or compartment syndrome. It can also be very painful.
Cast should be removable
If the cast becomes trapped during flight, it should be possible to remove it to restore blood flow. A circular cast cannot be removed without the correct tools. It may be necessary to split the cast before the flight. The cast will then be cut open beforehand, making it easier to remove if it starts to pinch.
Splint, brace or removable cast
If you need to wear a plaster cast and you are going to be flying, tell the doctor when the cast is applied. If the injury allows, other methods can be used if flying is an option. For example, a splint, brace or removable cast may be used instead of a full cast.
If a circular cast is still needed, it can be split before flying. However, you will probably need to have a new cast made at your destination and have it split again for the return journey.
You can also get a cast record form from the hospital. This will show the type of cast you have and any other medication you have been prescribed. The airline may ask for this before you can board the plane.
Flying with a newly applied cast
Because swelling can cause circulatory problems, many airlines do not allow you to fly for less than 2 hours within a 24-hour period. Is your flight longer than 2 hours? If so, many airlines do not allow you to fly within 48 hours of the cast being applied.
Rules vary between airlines
If you have a cast and need to fly, check with the airline before you go. The exact rules on what is and is not allowed vary from airline to airline.
Do you need extra space because you have a plaster cast?
If you need extra space because you are unable to sit in a normal seat due to your plaster cast, it is likely that you will need to book an extra seat. Usually you will not have to pay the full price for the extra seat, but you will get a discount on a second seat.
Also, if you have a cast on your leg, you are often not allowed to sit near the emergency exit. Although you will often have more legroom, you will need to be mobile to avoid blocking the emergency exit in an emergency.
Travelling on a stretcher
If your leg is in a cast above the knee or you have broken both legs, the airline may require you to travel lying down on a stretcher. If you lie down, there is less pressure on the cast and less chance of swelling.
However, not all airlines allow this. Also remember that you may be charged for the extra space you need if you are transported lying down. The airline may also require you to be accompanied by a medical professional.
If you are immobile and require a wheelchair, inform the airline in advance. Most airlines offer a wheelchair service. A wheelchair will be waiting for you at the check-in counter and at your destination when you disembark.
If you have your own wheelchair that you would like to take with you, it will preferably be transported in the baggage hold. You can leave your wheelchair at check-in and use the wheelchair service. When you arrive at your destination, the wheelchair service will take you to the baggage carousel where you can use your own wheelchair again.
You can usually take crutches with you to the gate. However, you will need to inform the airline. Some airlines also transport crutches in the baggage compartment. In this case, you can use the wheelchair service.
More bad luck?
Did you comply with the airline’s rules and were able to fly with your cast, but a flight delay or cancellation, for example, got in the way of a smooth journey? In many cases you are entitled to compensation and you can make a claim through EUclaim.