Five Tips for Flying with Cystic Fibrosis

Reid D'Amico avatar

by Reid D'Amico |

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Airports can be stressful. With the unpredictable delays, cancellations, and upsets of travel, it’s only natural to take some precautions before going on a business trip or vacation. However, preparing for travel becomes inherently more complicated when the traveler has a chronic illness like cystic fibrosis.

I wish to share some of the traveling tips and tricks I’ve picked up the past few years. I find myself taking dozens of flights a year, so at this point, I’ve experienced it all. There’s nothing more nerve-racking than being unprepared before boarding a plane or finding yourself sick from lack of preparation.

  1. A week before you leave, make sure you have all your medicines stocked up. We all know the days leading up to leaving can be hectic. We’re trying to get work squared away, pet arrangements made, and making sure we have our other transportation needs set. Because of this, I aim to get my medicines organized a week in advance. Often, I’ll find that I’ll need my refill in the middle of my trip, or soon upon arriving. Prescriptions can be filled days before you run out, so make sure to have all medications on hand both before and after traveling.
  2. Following up with point one, I always make sure I have extra medications on hand. I’ve had flights canceled, delayed, or an impromptu change in plans. Because of this, I always shoot to be prepared. I recommend bringing at least 24 hours worth of extra medication before traveling in order to have an emergency buffer before returning home.
  3. Have emergency exacerbation medication on hand. Traveling via airplane is stressful for the body, especially when you have cystic fibrosis. I always travel with some antibiotics and prednisone just in case I start to get sick mid-trip. However, this policy of handing out antibiotics ranges from clinic to clinic. Check with your physician to see what their policy may be.
  4. Pre-board the plane! This has been one of my favorite and most important travel tricks. When you arrive at the gate, ask the airline agent if you can pre-board the plane because you have cystic fibrosis. I have never had a problem with being denied this courtesy. You will be among the first to get on the plane, so you’ll have added time, which can be used to wipe down your seat with sanitizing wipes and put your mask on. When wiping down your area on the plane, remember to wipe down not only the seat, but also the tray table, the back of the seat where the tray table touches, the seat belt, the arm rests, the window, and the overhead controls.
  5. Lastly, never put medical devices or medications in your checked baggage. I always travel with a roller bag with my airways clearance machine, and have a personal items duffle bag. This allows me to maximize what I bring onto the plane. Also, if you pre-board the plane, you won’t have to worry about not having enough room for your luggage.

Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.


Tom avatar


When you write "put your mask on"... are you saying you wear something like a Vog mask for the duration of the flight?

Also, would you ask to move seat if someone nearby seems to have a cough/cold? Have airlines typically been accommodating with that?


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