One question that pops up again and again with young families is whether kids can fly with chickenpox. And one thing’s for sure — while this virus doesn’t usually cause any major problems for children, it’s bound to pop up at the most inconvenient time!
Chickenpox is a common illness which causes itchy spots to appear all over the body. It primarily targets young children, with most children catching it and developing a resistance to it before their teenage years.
Chickenpox, caused by the varicella-zoster virus, is a highly contagious disease, and while it can be extremely uncomfortable, it is not usually considered dangerous. It can, however, be dangerous to pregnant women, very young infants and people of any age with a compromised immune system.
Can kids fly with chickenpox? Whether or not you can board a plane with a child suffering from chickenpox is not entirely black and white. Let’s take a look at what you should do in this situation.
- Travelling With A Sick Infant
- Flying With Chickenpox
- Airline Policies
- Flying Home With Chickenpox
- Should Children Fly With Chickenpox?
- Travel Insurance Cover
- Final Thoughts
Travelling With A Sick Infant
Okay, so you’re all packed and ready to go when a slightly suspicious spot appears on your child’s skin. The first thing you should do is speak to a doctor to confirm it is chickenpox; then, you will want to give the airline a call.
Airline policies differ, but they will have the final say on whether or not your chickenpox problem will stop you from boarding the plane. Unless you want to get to the airport only to be turned away, make sure to call first and find out what regulations are in place.
Flying With Chickenpox
The trouble with chickenpox is that it is in its most contagious period before the first spot appears. Many parents can gauge if their child has caught chickenpox by whether they have been recently exposed to other children with a confirmed case.
You will not be allowed to fly with a child carrying this infectious disease while they still present active lesions. You can usually fly with your child when they are no longer contagious, which is only when all of the spots have crusted over. Many airlines may refuse entry even at this point unless you have a fit to fly note from a medical professional.
Furthermore, the customs officers in your destination country might not take too kindly if you get off the plane with a child still covered in spots. Some countries are stricter than others about admitting travellers with infectious diseases, so the best thing to do is check online about your destination country before getting on that plane.
Make sure you have a GP’s letter confirming that your child is no longer contagious and fit to fly to avoid unnecessary angst!
Whether or not you can fly with a child suffering from chickenpox depends on the airline. Many airline policies differ; let’s look at some major airlines flying out of London.
It goes without saying that this is for information only — it’s always worth double checking with your airline directly before your flight.
Virgin Atlantic passengers can fly with chickenpox seven days after the appearance of the last spot and if the existing crop of spots is scabbed or crusted over. The child must not have a fever.
BA requires infected people to postpone travelling for a minimum of six days after the appearance of the last spot. If spots are still visible, a letter from a doctor confirming the child is no longer contagious will be required.
The infected person must wait at least seven days after the appearance of the last spot for the safety of all other easyJet passengers.
Thomas Cook advises parents not to travel with children suffering from chickenpox. They request that passengers wait until no new spots appear and the existing spots have begun to turn to scabs.
Norwegian’s policies are quite clear: if any spots or scabs are visible during travel, you must have a letter from a doctor confirming that the child is no longer infectious and has been cleared to travel. Failure to proffer this letter will likely result in your being turned away.
Your child can fly with this airline seven days after the appearance of the first spot.
Ryanair passengers can only fly seven days after the last spot appears.
Passengers with Thomson must wait at least seven days after the last crop of spots appears on the skin.
If your child is suffering from chickenpox, you will need a doctor’s letter to confirm they are past the contagious stage of the disease. The GP must have issued the letter no more than six days before the flight date.
Another thing to consider is whether or not your chosen airline offers cancellation cover.
Flying Home With Chickenpox
Sometimes you reach your destination and have a fabulous few days of relaxation, only to find your child is showing signs of this infectious disease while you’re on holiday. It happens.
The first thing you need to do is stop your child from roaming. If you are staying in a hotel, your child should remain in the room while new spots are appearing.
Consult your travel insurance and get in touch with the airline. You will need to extend your stay and reschedule your flight until after the contagious period has passed. It may also be necessary to visit a local medical centre for advice.
Should Children Fly With Chickenpox?
If your child is still developing new or active spots or has active lesions, they are still contagious. If they are feverish, they are still contagious. Your child should not fly with chickenpox until after the contagious period has passed, and the remaining spots have crusted over.
Is it safe to let a child fly with chickenpox?
The bottom line is: no, it is not safe for a child to fly with chickenpox, and any reputable airline’s chickenpox policy will reflect this.
In most cases, your child will recover quickly and easily from chickenpox, but on some rare occasions, it can cause nausea and other unpleasant symptoms. You will not be able to get your child the medical attention they might need at 40,000 feet.
It is also unsafe to take a child with this common illness aboard a plane as they are likely to infect other passengers. It might seem like a harmless, spotty rash, but it is highly contagious and potentially very dangerous to pregnant women, newborn babies and people with a weakened immune system.
Is it fair to make a child travel with chickenpox?
Your child is not going to be comfortable. At best, they will be itchy and understandably irritable, but they can also experience nausea, headaches and feverish symptoms.
Regardless of whether or not your airline policy has denied boarding, it isn’t fair to put a child through a plane journey when they feel unwell unless unavoidable.
Travel Insurance Cover
Purchasing travel insurance can help you in several ways should you be forced to miss your flight or even if you make it to the airport and your child is denied boarding. A good travel insurance policy will help you to claim a portion of your expenses back or reschedule your flight if your child is close to recovering from chickenpox.
It is also advisable to purchase travel insurance in case your child needs medical attention while you are abroad. A good policy will support you in extending your stay and rearranging return flights if your child is required to quarantine on holiday until they are no longer contagious.
The bottom line is that your child cannot fly during the contagious period of chickenpox. Chickenpox is a common illness and is most often not dangerous; however, it is incredibly contagious. To prevent infection of other travellers, any reputable airline will not allow your child to travel until the spots have become scabs.
If you suspect your child might have contracted chickenpox, it is wise to check with a doctor; if they are coming to the tail end of the disease, ask for a fit to fly note. It would be best if you did not fly before the spots appear, as you risk infecting other people on the plane and finding yourself forced to quarantine abroad.
Chickenpox is one example of why travel insurance is a good idea, especially when travelling with children. A good insurance provider will help you to claim money back or rearrange flights you are forced to miss due to chickenpox. They can also support you abroad if your child contracts the disease during your holiday and you need to extend your stay.
Perhaps the most important part for any parent; if your child is unwell, keep them at home. Chickenpox is extremely uncomfortable and can be very upsetting for young children. Looking after your child at home, in a familiar environment, will help them feel safe and minimise the stress of the disease.