tips for travelling by plane with an ostomy

Tips for flying

Advice for ostomates on what to be aware of when traveling by plane.

From blown-up pouches to hold ups in airport security. There are some scary stories going around when it comes to travelling by air with a stoma. But there is really no reason why your ostomy should keep you from flying - and no, nothing is going to blow up.

prepare for travelling with a stoma

What to do before you fly

Before you travel abroad, you need to check how your condition and circumstances are covered by your travel insurance policy. Maybe you need to look for additional insurance coverage – if so, make sure to declare your ostomy.

It shouldn't result in a large premium. The insurance company will probably be more concerned about the condition that lead to your ostomy surgery in the first place. In any case, be sure to ask more than one insurance provider, as specialist insurance companies might save you a lot of money on travel insurance.

Sometimes, crossing a certain threshold (e.g. 12 months since surgery) will make insurance significantly cheaper, so that could impact your travel plans.

Make sure to bring more supplies than you think you need, just in case you pick up a sickness bug or you are delayed somewhere without access to new supplies. Some delivery companies, such as Charter (0800 132787) offer emergency holiday cover.

Pre-cut your pouches

Divide your supplies between your hold luggage and your hand luggage, in case your hold luggage is lost or the flight is delayed.

Bring as much as you can in your hand luggage, but remember to pre-cut your ostomy baseplates, since you will not be allowed to have scissors in your hand luggage.

Bring wipes instead of liquids and sprays

Scissors are not the only things you can't bring on a plane. Liquids and aerosol cans might also be prohibited - that includes accessories such as adhesive removers and creams unless they are 100 ml or less. Luckily most accessories also come as wipes, so remember to bring lots of those in your hand luggage.

Travel certificate can be helpful at the airport security check

How to avoid trouble at the security check

In order to make things easier and quicker when going through the security check at the airport, it is recommended to bring with you a travel certificate. This is a document which explains your condition and why you are bringing your ostomy supplies with you, translated into several different languages.

You can download a free travel certificate through Coloplast Charter.

At the airport

Security checks should not be a worry. Take the time to empty your bag before going through security, and if a body search is required explain that you have a stoma and wear a bag. If they wish a visual check, it is reasonable to ask for this to be carried out privately.

ostomy pouch can balloon while travelling by plane

In the air

There is a slight risk that the change in cabin pressure will cause the pouch to balloon. If this should happen all you need to do is go to the toilet and release the air. If you use a drainable pouch, open the outlet and release the air that way. If you use a closed pouch, you can change your pouch, or you may also want to consider using a two-piece for when flying, as it is easier to let the air out without needing to remove the entire appliance.

And remember that ballooning is often caused by something you eat or drink – so when you're flying be extra careful with fizzy drinks and foods that cause gas.

How to avoid smell and sound

You may feel more comfortable if you book a seat which is near the toilets. This way you will be able to release wind in a private space if the pouch starts to balloon. Knowing you have this opportunity might help alleviate some of your concerns and make you feel more confident as well.

You might be a little self-conscious about sounds from the pouch. In that case you will be pleasantly surprised by how noisy an airplane cabin is. It is very unlikely that your pouch can make noises loud enough to be heard in the cabin.

Should you tell the cabin crew?

There's no need to tell the cabin crew about your ostomy in advance (unless you think it would make you feel more secure), and most likely they'll never notice.

To top