If you’re one of the many people in the USA or worldwide who lives with a pacemaker, you probably want to know if you can fly with a pacemaker or whether your travel plans will be affected.
Thankfully, yes, you can fly with a pacemaker, but there are a few additional things you should know, including what you should do if you have been fitted with a new pacemaker, how you should handle airport security, whether altitude, short haul and long haul flights make a difference, and more.
Table of Contents
Short Haul vs. Long Haul Flights
If you are fitted with a pacemaker, you will be pleased to know that you can fly both short haul and long haul. There are practically no limits to where you can fly too based on distance, either domestically or internationally.
The only thing to note is that you should have the device settings checked and then reset if necessary after travel, especially if you were flying long-haul. It can be a good idea to deactivate a programmed sleep rate when changing time zones, too.
You Can Go Through Airport Security With a Pacemaker
Every passenger will have to go through airport security before they are able to board their plane. If you have a pacemaker, there are a couple of things you should be aware of.
Firstly, to help make the process go as smoothly as possible, make sure that you bring your Medical Device ID Card and Patient Security Card with you, which identifies you as having a pacemaker and will make life easier when you have to explain why the metal detector alarm went off.
If a TSA agent wants to use a handheld security wand, be aware that if it is held over your pacemaker for too long, it may affect the device, though this would likely only be temporary. So politely ask the agent to pass over your device with the wand quickly. Full-body scanners are perfectly fine to go through.
Flying At High Altitudes Won’t Affect Pacemakers
Extremely high altitudes may have an effect on pacemakers, but when flying, the altitude will make no difference.
This is because despite commercial airliners like the Boeing 747 cruising at 35,000 feet, airplane cabins are pressurized to 8,000 feet, which isn’t high enough to have any kind of negative effect.
Can You Fly With a New Pacemaker?
According to a German study, “if necessary, flying is possible 2 days after an uncomplicated implantation if pneumothorax can be excluded”.
Of course, it would be best to ask and follow the recommendations of your cardiologist, though.
Check In With Your Doctor
One last thing we will say is that while it is perfectly safe to fly with a pacemaker in most circumstances, it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor.
If you’ve recently undergone surgery, an episode of ill health, or anything else has recently changed in your health, it’s best to get the all clear from your doctor before you fly.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).