Can I fly with a broken leg, arm or other bone

Most broken limbs are treated with some form of cast – these can be plaster, fibreglass or resin, but anyone hoping to fly with a damaged bone should make sure they know the rules - or they could be face being banned from boarding the plane. 

I am not in pain, so will I be allowed to fly with my broken bone?

Checks are made when fitting casts to make sure they're not too tight and won't impede blood circulation to surrounding tissues and areas beyond the injury. However, tissue swelling can subsequently occur around the site of injury. Because of the increased risk to the vascular system – and possible DVTs – many airlines won't allow passengers to fly within 24 – 48hours of a cast being fitted.

I need to fly straight away – is there any way I can still travel by air?

For those who need to fly right away, airlines will usually require the cast to be split over its full length. This will help ensure any subsequent swelling won't affect circulation. Check this is acceptable with the airline, then visit a hospital to have the cast split. However, you’ll need to have it re-sealed when you arrive at your destination and that’s likely to cost you if it’s at your destination rather than returning home.

My broken bone is in a pneumatic splint – is that okay for flying?

Pneumatic splints are plastic sleeves or socks that can be placed over a broken limb and inflated to form a rigid splint. They are not suitable for air travel, because the pressure within is affected by changes in cabin pressure.

My injury happened a long time ago, so I will be fine to fly?

In order to avoid airline problems when boarding with an un-split cast, ask your medical team to provide a letter to confirm the date of your injury and when the cast was fitted. It could save problems at check-in.

Make sure you have cancellation cover

If an injury means you can’t travel, you could lose your money – that’s flights, hotels, trips and car hire etc. Airlines are not under any obligation to offer a refund. Cancellation cover will typically add a few pounds to your premium, but is likely to cover you for having to abandon a trip due to injury, illness and other factors. Check the small print.

Don’t leave your insurance to the day before you travel

Cancellation cover will only be of any use if you buy it before you’re injured – and research from insurance price comparison site,, has found that millions of Brit travellers are missing out on this cover because they’re leaving buying their travel insurance the last minute. A staggering 27% of us leave purchasing insurance until the day of departure. The majority of travel insurance policies offer cancellation cover from the date of purchase – not departure. Remember to read the terms and conditions to make sure cancellation cover is included.

Should book an extra-legroom seat to make the flight easier?

Anyone travelling with a broken bone may be tempted to spend a few pounds upgrading to an extra-legroom seat – just make sure you pick one you'll be allowed to sit in. Passengers with a broken arm or leg won't be allowed to occupy the roomy emergency exit-row seats – these are reserved for able-bodied travellers who could help others in the event of an emergency evacuation. Speak to the airline and explain your condition to see if they can help. 
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