With the end of Covid-19 lockdowns around the country, millions of children are being exposed to chicken pox (or chickenpox as some call it) for the first time – but will they be allowed on flights if infected ahead of going on a family holiday or other trip?
Here we take a look at what popular airlines flying from the UK say about passengers – young and old – who are suffering from chicken pox and the risk they may spread the virus to other passengers while on a plane.
Find out if you or your child can fly with chicken pox (Credit: Pixabay)
Can I be stopped from flying with chicken pox on airlines like easyjet?
It is true that airlines have the right to stop anyone that they, or their airport agents, believe to be unwell and posing a risk to other passengers - such as showing fluid-filled blisters.
However, if the sufferer is still showing signs of chicken pox, but has passed the contagious stage, it is likely they will be allowed to fly.
Airlines have policies covering how they interpret this advice, so read below to ensure you’re aware of what your carrier is likely to require before letting a traveller with the virus join a flight.
If you or the child has already had chicken pox but have similar blisters, you could be suffering from shingles - we have information on this condition here.
Our information is for guidance, only.
What airlines say about passengers who have chicken pox
Here are what popular airlines flying from the UK say about allowing children and adults with chicken pox fly on their planes...
Air New Zealand
Any passengers, child or adult, will need medical clearance from the airline's Aviation Medical team.
Travel is permitted 6 days after final crop of spots providing all have crusted/scabbed over and the passenger feels well and has no fever. A letter from your Doctor confirming you are no longer contagious will also be required.
Passengers will be permitted to travel 7 days after the appearance of the last new spot.
Jet2 requires that at least 7 days must have passed since the first spots appeared, with no more forming, before it is able to consider carrying anyone with the virus. Jet2 will also need a Fit to Fly certificate from your doctor to confirm this.
If symptoms of chicken pox are visible at the time of departure, passengers must provide a medical certificate which states their condition is not infectious.
When it comes to chicken pox, passengers can be accepted for travel 7 days after the appearance of the last new spot.
Like many airlines, TUI says Chicken pox sufferers can fly 7 days after the last new spot appears.
Virgin Atlantic says the passenger affected by chicken pox can fly "7 days after the last crop of spots providing the spots have crusted/scabbed over and the passenger feels well and has no fever".
If you have a contagious disease - such as chicken pox - you will need a medical certificate confirming your fitness to travel by air. This must be issued within 6 days of your flight’s departure date.
Can I get my money back if chicken pox means we can't fly?
The airline you are travelling with will not need to refund you if you, or one of your party cannot fly due to illness, such as chicken pox.
However, if you have travel insurance with cancellation cover, it is likely that you will be able to claim the money back for the flight, or entire trip if it is a package holiday.
You must mention any pre-existing conditions when buying travel insurance, otherwise your claim is likely to to be refused.
What is chicken pox or chickenpox as some call it?
Chicken pox causes an itchy, spotty rash and typically is most prevalent in children – but not exclusively.
Who can catch chicken pox?
Most children will catch chicken pox during their infancy – but it can be more unpleasant and harmful for adults who did not have it as a child.
It is largely harmless – aside from unpleasant symptoms, for kids, but can be dangerous to some people, such as pregnant women, new-born babies and people with a weakened immune system.
Typically, people become immune after suffering a bout of chicken pox.
When is chicken pox contagious?
Chicken pox sufferers are contagious 1-2 days before the first spots/blisters appear and then until all the resulting lesions have scabbed or crusted. This is usually around five days after the final spot appears.
How is chicken pox spread?
The infection is spread in the fluid found in blisters and sneezes and coughs of someone who has the infection.
Chicken pox can be caught from:
- Contaminated surfaces
- Contaminated objects
- Touching the blisters caused by chicken pox
- 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 chicken pox?
- Use paracetamol to relieve fever and discomfort – use the correct age-appropriate products such as Calpol for children. Do not exceed stated dosage
- Moisturising creams will help ease severe itching
- Do not scratch the skin, tap or pat it instead to help reduce complications.
- Stay hydrated
Can I prevent my child getting chicken pox with a vaccine?
There is an vaccine that can prevent children from catching chicken pox and ensuring there is no risk to your holiday, but it is not free to patients in the UK without specific medical need.
Examples of children who would likely be able to get a chickenpox jab on the NHS include siblings of a child with leukaemia, or whose parent is undergoing chemotherapy.
The vaccine can be obtained for children at a number of private travel clinics, but is likely to cost you around £140 for the two jabs at a pharmacy such as Boots the Chemist.
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