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British Lung Foundation
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Flying with bronchiectasis

I have recently been diagnosed with bronchiectasis and have a holiday booked in August. Has anyone who suffers from this experienced had any problems when flying? Do the travel insurance companies still cover you?

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I fly twice a year and I also have severe copd. I was last hospitalised in 2011 and my insurance is quite low. I go to Crete in may and paid just under £50.


How did you get insurance so low? , I have tried to get insurance for my husband and I to Spain in May for a week, and I could not get a quote for under £200, my husband is on ambulatory oxygen.

I dont use oxygen, but I paid over £100 2 years ago and it just comes down.

I think you can still fly - my husband has severe COPD but he chooses not to fly. He didn't like it without the excuse of COPD!! You may want to talk to your Doctor as I have heard others talk about a "fit to fly" test. As far as insurance is concerned we went to France a couple of years ago and he was covered by our travel insurance without any fuss. The BLF helpline (click on the red balloon) maybe able to give you more specific advise. TAD xx

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I have RLD and pulmonary hypertension and have been told I have to have a test to see if I can fly without oxygen before I fly but I did not ask if I needed to do that for the fight back too. I cannot go up mountains either without a test ( I wish)

You should inform your Travel Insurance Company. You should also obtain medical advice about flying.

Thanks for all your advice. I will chat with the doctor first.

Hi Scrag ...I have bronchietasis an emypshema both mild ...I'm actually a flight attendant an it has no affect on me... depending on what level you are if your mod or mild I can't see any probs ..best to check your GP though ...cheers Wes

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I have broncicatasis too. My consultant will not let me fly long haul. Nothing over 4 hours. Its worth ringing round various insurance companys I think. A lot of it depends on what stage your at re flying.

If you are only recently diagnosed then you are probably ok for flying but you must make sure your insurance company know. They will have a lot of questions about the when and what of your diagnosis and it can be difficult if you are still waiting from test results. I am insured with a very helpful company called 'insurancewith.com' who cover all sorts of medical conditions. Good luck.

hi, Scrag, When I was having to use Oxygen for active things like Pulmonary Rehabilitation or gardening, I had to have a Flight Assessment carried at the Hospital Chest Clinic, and that was all I needed to do. My Travel Insurer had to carry out an annual medical check over the phone with me before booking any travel arrangements.

Since the effect of PR has been so successful for me, I now no longer use Supplementary Oxygen at all. However, I do some form of PR 4 or 5 times per week and feel better in myself than I have for several years. I am 77 years old. Hope you find my message helpful. Tets

Tets I am really interested in how you have improved since attending PR...can you sat what you think caused this improvement? was it one particular aspect of the PR do you think or just the general knowledge about COPD that the PR gave you

Do you know what level of COPD you had before attending the PR and what level you are now?

Thanks Sohara

Regular exercise (to the point of moderate breathlessness) will condition your body to use oxygen more efficiently . . .

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Hi Tets would be interesting to know what level you were before and what exercise do you do 5 times a week,may just kick my bottom into gear.

Hi,junespoon, I go to the local Gym twice and I do the NHS Home Rehabilitation Programme at last 3 times per week.

Before I went on the NHS PR programme I needed Oxygen to work in the garden, walk and to do the PR itself. I don't have any sat readings but my peak flow meter readings were generally around 250 litres per/min but sometimes are as much as 290 now. I still use inhalers etc. but my body is in a better condition and I don't use supplementary Oxygen.

Regards Tets

Hi, Sohara, The benefit from PR comes as you continue doing similar exercises after completion of PR Programme and do them at least 5 times per week, every week whilst you are at your normal health level. That is all there is to it. For any scientific reasons for this happening you need to contact a specialist Physiotherapist who is trained in this aspect of PR.I hope you try it and get the same long term benefit that I've got.

Regards Tets

I was diagnosed last year with Bronchiectasis and have flown a couple of times since.

I informed my Travel insurance company ( I have an annual one with the Bank) and they had no problem covering me, for no extra charge. They asked how far I could walk etc, but as I am still quite active I passed all their criterior. I took my inhaler on board and used that when I felt a bit breathless, and because I also suffer from Nasel drip, I used my nose spray just before boarding and also took a decongestant in the morning. So far so good, I am flying again on Monday, on a longer flight so I am hoping all this works again.

I used to get really bad problems with my sinuses when i flew but this seems to be getting a bit better with taking these precautions. Good luck, hope you can get away too. PTxx

I think you have to have a fit to fly test from your doctor. It's just the pulse meter they put on your finger when measuring you pulse and oxygen level. I think if your over 74% oxygen your okay to fly. That's because the airlines only generate 75% oxygen to the cabin and recycle it as well. Hope this has been helpful, happy holiday fingers crossed.x

I have bronchiecstasis, I had a flight assessment and was told I couldn't fly for more than two hours (there must be a joke in there somewhere about my arms being tired) which meant I could get to Europe. I have insurance through my bank but when I told them about my condition they referred me to a specialist insurer and I paid about £25.00 for insurance that lasts as long as I am a member of the bank. Hope this is helpful and that you have a happy holiday. Take care. Lizzy.

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Thank you all SO much for your advice and comments. I am so glad that I found this forum x

Just to add my penny's worth! My great Uncle used to come out to Aus.to see us every 2-3 years,going long haul,without any problems.He had bronchiecatas,since quite young,his last trip,before he passed away,was on his 84 th birthday bless him! xx

Wow! I was only diagnosed about a month ago and haven't managed to understand yet how this will affect me long term. I see the consultant again in May and have lots of questions! Last time he just gave me the diagnosis and I then went home and started researching. It is so great when I hear stories such as this. Gives me hope that I can live a fairly normal life. X

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Ive only been diagnosed with this about 6 weeks ago

My specialst gave me a 6 week course of Mucadyne 3x1 per day

He said if they worked I would stay on them, he seemed confidant they would work

No such luck

I have since had another infection and am on yet another course of antibiotics

I do not see the specialist until June

Going to see my GP seems such a waste of time as all they do is give course after course of antibiotics

I'm feeling really down at the moment as I've had the awful cough for nearly 2 years

I thought that now I've been diagnosed it would be a simple matter of prescribings mes and I would be ok

Very naive of me

Sorry for the rant

I am meant to be going to Vegas at Easter but the way I feel at the moment it would be a waste of money

My husband is losing patience with me as he just doesn't undrerstand how awful I feel ALL the time

Hadn't even thought about insurance

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Scrag I have had Broch since a baby...had 2 lower lobes of my lungs out at 15yrs old but have lived a LONG and very active life...without any help really from medical people , was never even under a chest clinic or chest doctor....just got anti biotics through the years when I had chest infections

If you have just been diagnosed you have every chance of living a very long life especially with all the help available now..via the internet and forums like this one

I still fly and although now I have some serious breathing issues, and still get the chest infections etc I am hopeful I will life many more years yet

Nearly everyone gets some health issue as they get older...the trick is to learn how to manage your health issue, and take care to limit the effects of it on your life


Hi Scrag

Just to add my experience to all the other replies you received.

I have Bronchiectasis since I was ten years old and am now 71. I won't bore you with the details, suffice to say that I have had many infections. However, what I really want to say to you is that I took a long haul flight to Australia in January last and with a FEV of 47% , I had no problems whatsoever with breathing. It was twenty years or so since I had last been on long haul and was a little apprehensive about how I would cope with my breathing, but thankfully I did not experience any problems and cannot wait to fly to far off places again. Go for it and enjoy your holiday


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