A pregnant mother forked out £1,000 on new tickets to fly home from her holiday after Jet2 refused her doctor's note as she'd flown out with another airline. If you're planning to fly while pregnant, here's what you need to check.
Nicola Handley flew to Malaga in Spain with Ryanair while 30 weeks pregnant, but was not allowed to board her Jet2 flight home to the UK, as her 'fitness to fly' certificate was more than seven days old.
She had expected the flight to be classed as inbound, meaning the certificate could be dated up to 16 days prior to the flight, under Jet2's rules. Instead, her journey was classed as an outbound flight as she'd flown out with another airline – meaning the certificate could not be more than seven days old.
Jet2 says its staff followed the correct procedure, but has now agreed to reimburse Nicola as a gesture of goodwill. There aren't industry-wide rules on this, so if you're flying while pregnant, it's worth double-checking your airline's stance. See each of the major airline's rules below.
'We made a mad dash to get a new letter, but we ran out of time'
Nicola, whose baby Lucy was born on 15 September, eventually opted to fly back to Gatwick with another airline after missing her Jet2 flight to Manchester in July.
She recently contacted MoneySavingExpert.com, saying she initially failed to get anywhere with Jet2.
She said: "When I arrived at Malaga Airport, I was told my flight home was classed as an outbound flight because I had flown out with a different airline.
"I was with my boyfriend and 18-month-old and we made a mad dash to two different clinics to get a new letter, but we ran out of time and the flight left.
"I can't fault the Jet2 staff – they were lovely – but it was a technicality they couldn't budge on.
"Eventually we managed to get on a flight [with another airline] to Gatwick using the original letter but you can imagine the stress and expense we have suffered."
A Jet2 spokesperson said: "Our team in Malaga followed the correct procedure as per our terms and conditions, which state that pregnant passengers must provide a valid fit to fly letter issued within seven days of the intended date to travel.
"As Ms Handley's flight was booked one-way, it was deemed an outbound flight, meaning that the customer couldn't be boarded. However, as a gesture of goodwill we have reviewed our procedures and are reimbursing her expenses."
What are different airlines' policies?
Airlines have a range of policies when it comes to flying while pregnant, so it's worth checking each airline's rules before you depart.
Here are the major airlines' rules, with links to their policies:
Major airlines' policies
|Airline||What's the latest you can fly while pregnant?||Do you need 'fit to fly' proof?||For what period do you need it?||When does your documentation need to have been signed?|
|British Airways||Up to the end of your 36th week (or 32nd if expecting more than one baby)||Yes and pregnancy record||Between the 28th and 36th week of pregnancy (or 32nd if expecting more than one baby)||Within 7-10 days of your outbound flight, which is your first flight with British Airways|
|Easyjet||Up to end of 35th week||No||N/A||N/A|
|Flybe||Up to end of 33rd week||Yes||Between 28th and 33rd week of pregnancy||No specific deadline|
|Jet2||Up to end of 33rd week||Yes||Between 28th and 33rd week of pregnancy||Within seven days of the outbound leg and 16 days of the inbound leg – as above, one-way flights are always deemed as outbound|
|Ryanair||Up to end of 36th week (or 32nd if expecting more than one baby)||Yes||Between 28th and 36th week of pregnancy (or 32nd if expecting more than one baby)||Within 14 days of your outbound leg. If your outbound flight is with another airline, and you are returning with Ryanair, Ryanair says it will accept the letter|
On its website the regulator the Civil Aviation Authority says: "Most airlines do not allow travel after 36 weeks for a single pregnancy and after 32 weeks for multiple pregnancies.
"Most airlines require a certificate after 28 weeks, confirming that the pregnancy is progressing normally, that there are no complications and the expected date of delivery."