Medical Needs and Clearance

Medical Needs and Clearance Requirements

Do you require medical assistance on your upcoming flight with us? We have got you covered. Learn more about what to do if a passenger requires medical assistance or has special needs and mobility aids that needs to be taken onboard.

Care in the Air 

Although rare, a medical incident in the air is always a possibility. As your safety is our priority, our cabin crew has been trained in advanced first aid and life support. Our medical kits are recognised and approved as per international medical guidelines, which can be administered by our cabin crew and by a doctor or nurse, who may be on board, and willing to assist if the situation demands. 

Medical Clearance

Most passengers with a medical condition can fly with Air India. All you need to do is fill out the Medical Information Form (MEDIF) while booking your flight with us. 

On the flight, the cabin air is pressurised, and precautions must be taken if a passenger has a respiratory or cardiac condition. Medical clearance is required if: 

  • The passenger's fitness to travel is doubtful due to recent illness, hospitalisation, injury or surgery.
  • The passenger has an existing medical condition. 
  • The passenger needs special services such as oxygen or medical equipment on board. 
  • The passenger is flying for medical reasons or treatment. 

If you're flying to an international destination, it is recommended that you check any vaccination requirements at least six weeks prior to your departure and carry adequate travel insurance to cover any medical costs incurred abroad. Most medical cases are straightforward, but others require individual assessment. Sometimes, you may be asked to travel with a medical escort or supplementary oxygen. Your fitness to fly is based on internationally accepted criteria to ensure a safe, comfortable, and uneventful journey. 

If you have a condition that may affect you in-flight, please get in touch with the nearest Air India office or your travel agent. They will provide the required assistance in obtaining medical clearance. You can only board the flight after we receive and evaluate your MEDIF form. 

Cabin Pressure

The cabin air pressure could cause a drop in oxygen in the blood. This could affect a passenger with respiratory problems (such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)) who may need to book supplementary oxygen.  

A request for supplementary oxygen needs to be made while booking your flight. 

Post-Operative Care 

Flying after an operation or a serious illness can be stressful. It is wise not to travel during this period. However, if you need to travel post-surgery, please read the points below: 

  • Carrying the medication, you may need during the flight in your cabin baggage is advisable with the prescription. 
  • Medication cannot be refrigerated on board. Please carry a cool bag or vacuum flask if your medicines need to be kept cool. Kindly discuss options with your pharmacist. 
  • If you're travelling with medical equipment, please inform Air India in advance, as clearance will depend on the type of equipment. 
  • Medical clearance is required for most medical equipment, including nebulisers and ventilators. 
  • The equipment must be capable of being battery-operated. We cannot guarantee a power supply onboard our aircraft. 
  • Medical equipment which has been authorised cannot be used during taxi, take-off, approach, and landing. 

Nebulisers and Oxygen masks 

Only battery-operated nebulisers can be used in flight, except during take-off and landing. 

Passengers travelling with a medical requirement for an oxygen mask and cylinder will be charged separately. Revised charges effective 21 November 2022:

  • Oxygen Mask per unit: US$ 275 (all-inclusive charges). The charge is for the mask only. Masks are single use, so passengers with through flights will require a change of mask and an additional charge will apply. 
  • Oxygen bottles are not included with an oxygen mask. They are available separately.
  • Oxygen Cylinder per bottle: US$ 50 (all-inclusive charges).

In-flight Seating

Safety regulations stipulate that passengers with medical needs should not be seated at emergency exits or in cross aisles that are a part of the emergency exit routes. Only suitable seats will be allocated to the passenger.

Service Dogs for the Blind or Passengers with Impaired Vision 

  • A service dog can fly free of charge if it is trained to lead a passenger with impaired vision. If properly harnessed and muzzled, the dog may be permitted to enter the cabin but cannot occupy a seat. A request must be made at the time of booking. All individual country regulations for carriage of a dog must be met.
  • If a passenger has impaired hearing and depends on a service dog, they can fly with the dog only after providing medically established or supported documents. If properly harnessed and muzzled, the dog may be permitted to enter the cabin but cannot occupy a seat. A request must be made at the time of booking. All individual country regulations for carriage of a dog must be met. 
  • Air India provides a meet-and-assist service upon request during the departure and arrival of your flight. 
  • If you cannot take care of your physical needs on the flight, we request you travel with a companion who can assist you. 
  • Air India will not provide in-flight assistance, which may contradict health, safety, or hygiene requirements.

Wheelchair Request 

  • In keeping with the requirement of air safety, the carriage of passengers requiring wheelchair assistance must be restricted on our flights.
  • Please ensure that your request for a wheelchair is made at the time of booking and confirmed before you travel with Air India so that we can provide the required assistance throughout your journey. 
  • Wheelchair and buggy car assistance are available at airports upon request and are subject to availability. Passengers with confirmed wheelchair requests made during booking will be assisted on priority. 
  • Certain airports levy charges for providing wheelchairs. Kindly check the applicable charges.

If you're travelling with your wheelchair: 

  • We can arrange to carry your wheelchair or mobility aid on your flight. Please let us know your requirements at the time of booking. 
  • If there is space, we will store collapsible wheelchairs, and mobility aids in the aircraft cabin. If we cannot carry it due to weight or size, they will be carried in the hold.
  • One mobility aid, e.g., a wheelchair, will be carried free of charge in addition to the applicable checked baggage allowance.
  • Special permission must be requested when bookings are made for mobility aids over 30 kg due to weight and space restrictions.
  • If you have a battery-powered wheelchair, you must take certain safeguards before travelling. Please get in touch with your nearest Air India office to know more.

At some airports, we may have to check in wheelchairs or mobility aids into the aircraft hold and return them once we land at our destination. In such cases, we will transport you from the check-in counter to the aircraft in another wheelchair and, upon arrival, from the aircraft to your wheelchair or mobility aid. 

Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC)

A passenger diagnosed with sleep apnoea is permitted to use FAA/EASA-approved Portable Oxygen Concentrator (POC) Machine, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine provided the following conditions are met: 

  • The person using the equipment has a medical need to use it. This must be evidenced by a written statement kept in that passenger's possession. 
  • A licenced physician must sign a statement specifying how much oxygen is needed every hour and its flow rate under normal operating conditions.
  • Due to the limited aircraft electrical power supply, we strongly recommend carrying charged batteries for a period equivalent to 150% of the expected flight time.
  • You must inform the flight commander when the machine is brought onboard. Also, notify the cabin crew before and while operating the equipment.
  • Warning lights and audio alerts will be made when the aircraft is on the move (on the surface, take-off and landing). Please ensure the POC is placed underneath the seat in front of the passenger using the machine during such times.
  • No passenger operating a POC is permitted to occupy an exit seat.
  • The equipment and a bag with additional batteries required to charge it during the flight are considered assistive devices and will not be considered part of the cabin baggage allowance.
  • When connecting to or from any other airline, including codeshare flights not operated by Air India, passengers are advised to make independent arrangements directly with the other airline.
  • The unit should display the manufacturer's label indicating that the device meets FAA safety requirements regarding M-PED (Medical Portable Electronic Devices).
  • All POCs meeting the requirements but not recognised by Special Federal Aviation Regulations (SFAR 106) must bear a red label stating: 'The manufacturer of this POC has determined this device conforms to all applicable FAA acceptance criteria for POC carriage and use on board aircraft.'
  • The machine must be operated by a dry-cell battery that is leakproof and doesn't have any spillage. Spare batteries must be protected from damage and short circuits.

Oxygen cylinders on board and limitations for electro-medical equipment.

Passengers that require a stretcher

Air India provides a stretcher facility to any disabled passenger on domestic and international flights. A non-disabled adult must accompany the passenger. Carrying the passenger's stretcher requires advance arrangement and is subject to space availability. Stretchers are accepted only after clearance from the medical services department and the chief medical officer. Learn more about carrying a stretcher onboard.