A healthy journey
Whether it’s jet lag, an earache or travel sickness – you can find helpful advice here on how you can enjoy your flight without worry.
Allergies or food intolerances have a wide variety of causes. These cannot be completely eliminated, even on board an aircraft.
Air filtration on board
The air in aircraft cabins is recirculated (max. 40–50%) through what are known as HEPA filters (High Efficiency Particulate Air filters) and augmented with air from outside the aircraft. The minimum amount of fresh air and the pore diameter of the filters are stipulated in the permit requirements of the aircraft models. Those passengers who are allergic to cat hairs and house dust will therefore experience some relief.
Important information about peanut allergies
In general Lufthansa does not serve peanuts on its flights. However, we cannot guarantee that our aircraft and the food served on board are completely free of peanuts or peanut products or that passengers do not bring products containing peanuts on board with them. The same also applies to other foodstuffs that may cause an allergic reaction.
In the event of a food intolerance or a severe allergic reaction on board, our medically trained personnel have access at all times to medicines for emergency medical care. Furthermore, there is a 24-hour hotline on all Lufthansa long-haul flights which can be used to contact a doctor.
If you still have queries about your flight in relation to allergies, please contact the Lufthansa Medical Operation Centre before starting your journey:
We are only able to provide a limited extra oxygen supply on board. For this reason, please contact the Lufthansa Medical Operation Centre by email at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 48 hours before your departure to ensure that sufficient oxygen is available. Please note that the cost of providing this service must be paid in advance. We recommend that you contact your health insurance or private health care provider about the possibility of having these costs refunded. In addition, your fitness to fly must be assessed before the flight. You can find additional information about travelling with a respiratory problem here.
Before you start your journey, please ask your doctor about the procedure at security and about any other possible risks. If you have a heart pacemaker, you must present a medical certificate to this effect at security. You can find additional information about travelling with a heart pacemaker here.
Since the quantity of insulin that needs to be injected is connected to your food intake pattern, accurate time management plays a critical role. This page contains some important information for passengers with diabetes mellitus.
As a diabetic, you may obtain your special diet on flights on which food is served, provided that you let us know your requirements at least 48 hours before your departure. You can place your specific orders with the Lufthansa Service Center.
Please also note our advice on taking your medication with you.
Before the journey
- Consult your doctor before you travel about the quantity and type of your insulin injections.
- In addition, have a precise injection plan created for the journey so that you know when you have to give yourself insulin and how much.
- Take with you on the journey twice as much medication and material as you need (it’s best to take one set each in your carry-on and hold baggage) so that in emergencies you always have a reserve to hand.
- On westbound flights across time zones the day gets longer, so you should have an extra meal and dose of insulin. Consult your doctor on that point before your journey.
- In contrast, when flying east the day gets shorter, so it is recommended that you inject less insulin. Consult your doctor on this point as well before your journey.
- Please note that insulin should be stored at fridge temperature (+2 to +8 degrees Celsius). Without refrigeration it can be transported for up to 24 hours; however it should never be at temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius.
- After the first night in your destination country, an additional blood-sugar check and possibly an extra meal with carbohydrates is recommended in order to supply your body with the nutrients it needs.
- In the case of diarrhoea and vomiting you should, without fail, consult a local doctor. He or she will examine your fluid balance and if necessary adjust your insulin dosage. For this reason it is essential that you have the documents with you that are needed for treatment in a foreign country. Consult your doctor or health insurance provider for the relevant information.
Did you arrive feeling faint and exhausted at your destination? Long-haul passengers are all too familiar with the phenomenon known as jet lag. In this section, we explain the causes and effects of jet lag and give you some general tips on what you can do to prevent it.
People normally live in a 24-hour rhythm. While we sleep, our heart and breathing rates slow, blood pressure drops, our muscles relax and mental and psychomotor performance decreases significantly.
A rapid change to a new location in a different time zone disturbs phases in the human daily rhythm. It not only interrupts our normal cycles of sleeping and waking, but also the regular patterns of a wide range of different bodily functions accustomed to operating in a 24-hour rhythm.
Tiredness and slowed reactions combined with memory and concentration problems are the most frequent results. People can also feel exhausted and suffer from headaches and a feeling of nausea due to the interruption in their normal sleep patterns.
The effects of jet lag tend to be felt more strongly after an eastbound flight than a westbound one. The reason for this difference is that our body’s "internal clock" tends towards a rhythm which is longer than 24 hours. So when we fly from east to west (such as from Germany to the USA), the day is longer – which tends to suit our biological rhythm. The human body adjusts to the new time zone about 20% faster than after an eastbound flight (such as from Germany to Thailand) because flying east means it "loses" several hours.
General tips to prevent jet lag
During the flight
- Reset your watch to the time of your destination country soon after boarding your aircraft so that you can become accustomed mentally to the new time rhythm.
- Try to get into the daily rhythm of your destination country; this means eating at local mealtimes and only going to bed when the sun goes down.
- Try to get a good sleep during the first night after you arrive.
- Preferably avoid strenuous activities in the first two days after landing so that your body has time to get used to the new time rhythm.
- Avoid taking sleeping pills and melatonin because they cause additional disruptions to the human organism.
- Spend as much time as you can outdoors – the daylight helps the body to adjust to the new environment quicker.
- On short trips, you should maintain as much as possible the day-night rhythm of your home country – in this way you avoid "double" jet lag.
- If possible, stay at home for one or two days after your journey. This will help you to relax while you get used to the daily rhythm in your home country again.
Before the journey
- A few days before your journey, try to partially get used to the new daily rhythm at your destination by going to bed one to two hours later than usual.
- If possible, plan your arrival for about noon so that you can make use of the brightest light of the day.
- Plan important appointments or meetings in your destination country for a time of day at which you feel most awake; after a westbound flight this means in the morning.
During the flight
- Try to remain awake during your flight.
- Move around and drink plenty of non-alcoholic beverages in order to fight your natural need for sleep.
- Eat protein-rich food (cheese, fish, meat, eggs, dairy products) – this will help you to stay awake longer.
- Do not give in to the feeling of tiredness. Go to bed only after the sun has gone down in your destination country.
- Stay in the daylight as much as you can. Light impedes production of the hormone melatonin, which makes people tired and focuses the human organism on sleep.
Before the journey
- A few days before your journey try to adjust to the new daily rhythm at your destination. This means going to bed earlier and getting up earlier.
- Plan important activities for a time of day at which you feel most awake. After an eastbound flight, this means in the evening.
During the flight
- Try to sleep during the flight.
- Eat high-carbohydrate food (such as fruit, potatoes, pasta, rice, yoghurt, fruit juices). This stimulates your natural need for sleep.
- Fruit tea also induces sleep.
- Try autogenic training or relaxation exercises instead of sleeping pills.
- Avoid alcohol as a way to ‘make you tired'. It has a stronger effect during the flight than on the ground, dehydrates the body and also delays the human organism's adjustment to the new time zone at your destination.
When you travel to much warmer regions, you should consider that your body will need a certain amount of time to adjust to the change in climate. This is because a rapid change in temperature, especially from cold to hot climes, puts a heavy strain on your body’s circulatory system.
Tips to cope with a change of climate
Before the journey
- By frequent visits to a sauna before your journey, you can train your body to adjust to the coming temperature change.
- Alternating between hot and cold showers also strengthens the cardiovascular system.
- Visits to a solarium can prepare your skin for greater exposure to real and intensive sunlight, but will not influence your biorhythm.
- If possible, wear clothing that suits the local climate when you leave the aircraft. Also think about something to cover your head, especially on journeys to southern countries.
- Travellers who are greatly overweight and patients with heart or lung disorders, especially, should avoid strenuous physical activity during the first few days after their flight.
- Depending on the humidity to be expected in your destination country, you should consciously drink a lot of liquid to help your body's thermal regulation. The following applies here: the drier the air, the more you should drink.
Here are some important tips from Lufthansa on how to avoid problems if you need to take medication at regular intervals during your journey.
Medications taken regularly
Due to the fact that adjustments have to be made for different time zones, it can be difficult to maintain the regular intervals necessary for taking medication. If you are required to take a particular medication at regular intervals, we recommend that you consult a doctor before taking a flight across one or more time zones.
Medications in carry-on baggage
The medication packaging should be impact-resistant and, wherever possible, your medication should be distributed among several items of carry-on baggage. It is advisable to pack about one and a half to twice the amount you expect to use in your carry-on baggage. This is because, in exceptional cases, flights can sometimes be diverted or their departure delayed for a long time – even if you are already sitting in the aircraft. Please note that your medication cannot be refrigerated on board. However, you may keep your medication cool on board with cold packs or, alternatively, with dry ice.
Taking medications through customs
If you have medications and syringes in your carry-on baggage, it is advisable to take a doctor’s certificate with you which confirms that they are personally required medical items.
Loss of medications
Just in case you lose your medications during your journey or in the destination country, you should ask your doctor to provide you with a list of your blood group and other important personal health data as well as the dosage of your medications and their generic names (names not protected under commodity law, i.e. the international, non-proprietary names of medical substances). You should also have with you the documents you need for medical treatment or for the issuing of prescriptions in a foreign country. Consult your doctor or health insurance provider for the relevant information.
The contraceptive pill
The best way to achieve certainty in contraception, when you are travelling on a westbound flight which lengthens the day by a minimum of six hours, is by taking an extra pill. We recommend that you consult your doctor on this matter before travelling.
Application of medications by means of an EpiPen™
In general, Lufthansa recommends that passengers with allergies or food intolerances should always carry their medications with them in their carry-on baggage. In the event of an emergency, our flight crew cannot apply medication by means of an EpiPen™ (epinephrine) auto-injector. Children and teenagers who carry an EpiPen™ (epinephrine) auto-injector with them can only fly on board Lufthansa aircraft if accompanied by someone who is familiar with the use of this device.
Medications for travel sickness
As a preventive measure you can take non-prescription medications such as travel chewing gum, which diminishes the side effects of travel sickness such as tiredness and lack of concentration. There is also medication to suppress feelings of nausea, although, due to the potential side effects, you must have a doctor’s prescription for this.
The drop in air pressure in the aircraft can occasionally cause some passengers to suffer from earache. Read the following helpful tips on the preventive measures you can take.
Possible causes of earache on board
The cabin air pressure in commercial aircraft can drop to a level corresponding to an altitude of about 2,500 metres above sea level. This can sometimes cause passengers to suffer from earache.
This occurs, in particular, when the equalisation of pressure between the middle ear and the ambient air pressure does not function properly. These symptoms are more likely to occur in passengers who have a cold with inflammation of the nose and the passages between the back of the throat and the middle ear (known as the Eustachian tubes).
Fewer problems at take-off
When the aircraft takes off and climbs to its cruising altitude, it is usually less of a problem. That is because this process creates negative pressure in the cabin. Even for a passenger with a cold, the overpressure that builds in the middle ear can be equalised relatively easily by the Eustachian tubes.
Landing can be painful if you have a cold
Landing is more likely to present problems because during an aircraft’s descent the cabin air pressure increases and the natural equalisation of pressure may not function properly due to a cold-related inflammation of the mucous membrane. This results in negative pressure in the middle ear and increased pressure on the eardrum, and this can be painful.
What you can do to prevent earache
The most important technique you can use to equalise the pressure is the so-called Valsalva method: take a breath, hold your nose, and with your mouth closed press the air forcefully to the back of your throat. This opens the Eustachian tubes, which enables an equalisation of the pressure.
A preventive measure you can take is to apply a decongestant nasal spray to both nostrils about a half-hour before the aircraft begins its descent from cruising altitude. This will free the passages between the nasal sinuses and the middle ear again and enable an equalisation between the ambient pressure and the pressure in the middle ear.
You can also speed up the pressure equalisation process with chewing movements. The best thing to do is to bring some chewing gum with you. Deliberate yawning can also facilitate pressure equalisation.
If you are suffering from a serious infection of the sinuses and nasal passages, you should certainly consult your doctor before flying.
If you often feel unwell soon after take-off, you probably suffer from travel sickness. By taking the following effective preventive measures, you can alleviate this unpleasant feeling of nausea.
Do not fly on an empty stomach
Do not fly on an empty stomach because it doesn’t help travel sickness – as is mistakenly believed – but actually promotes it.
Instead, we recommend eating light food such as fruit, vegetables, salads, biscuits, cereal bars and rusks before and during the flight. However, you should avoid coffee, black tea, alcohol, nicotine and spicy, fatty dishes.
Take vitamin B1: it plays a major role in transmitting nerve impulses and helps travel sickness sufferers to alleviate problems with their sense of balance. These foods contain especially high levels of vitamin B1: artichokes, fish, oatmeal, brown rice, asparagus, wheat products and pork.
Ginger provides gentle, natural relief from the symptoms of travel sickness. We therefore recommend you drink some ginger tea in good time before your departure. This will provide natural relief from your feelings of nausea, with absolutely no side effects.
Choose the right seat
Ask for a seat on the centre aisle that is level with the wings as the aircraft's movements are least noticeable there.
If this is not an option, make sure you get a window seat. If you are flying during the daytime, you can calm your nervous stomach by fixing your eyes on a point on the horizon which will provide a reference point for your sense of balance. This will ease your feeling of nausea.
Find out here about the causes of travel thrombosis, whether you belong to the risk group and what you can do to avoid such complications on your flight.
Possible causes of travel thrombosis
Long stretches of immobile sitting, such as in an aircraft, restrict the return flow of blood to the heart which muscle movement normally actively promotes. This can result in the build-up of fluids, primarily in the lower leg area. The increased pressure on the tissue can, in turn, lead to a reduction in the return blood flow.
In rare cases, involving high-risk persons, a blood clot can develop on the wall of the vein. This is known as a thrombosis and it further restricts the return flow of blood significantly.
In very rare cases, part of this blood clot can become detached and then be carried to the lungs by the flow of blood, where it lodges. If a blood vessel is then blocked, this can result in a considerable reduction of the heart’s capacity to pump. Such an event is known as an embolism of the lung, which in extreme cases can lead to sudden heart failure.
Particular risk groups
- People over 60 years of age
- People who have previously suffered a thrombosis
- People who are overweight
- Pregnant women
- People with a malignant disease
- Women who take the contraceptive pill and also smoke
- People who have recently had an operation
- People who have a hereditary coagulation disorder
What you can do to prevent a thrombosis
You can considerably reduce the build-up of fluids in the legs by wearing so-called compression stockings (or, even better, compression tights). People in high-risk groups should have these compression stockings individually fitted.
Try to get some exercise during your flight: for example, you can actively participate in the Lufthansa "Flyrobic" exercise programme which is available via your monitor on long-haul flights.
Make sure you drink plenty of fluids during the flight, in order to help your body maintain an adequate level of fluids to compensate for the dry air in the cabin.
Restrict your alcohol consumption and don’t take sleeping pills or tranquillisers.
We strongly recommend that particularly high-risk persons should consult their doctor. In some cases, it might be necessary to take preventive medication against the formation of blood clots.
If you are pregnant, this page will give you useful information about your fitness to fly and what else you may need to consider.
Trouble-free flying during pregnancy
Flying does not present any problems for women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Nevertheless, we recommend that pregnant women should talk to their gynaecologist in advance about their forthcoming flight.
Until when can you fly, when you are pregnant?
Until the end of the 36th week of pregnancy, or until 4 weeks before the expected due date, Lufthansa allows expectant mothers whose pregnancies have progressed without complications to fly without a medical certificate from a gynaecologist. Beyond the 28th week of their pregnancies, however, we recommend that expectant mothers carry a current certificate from a gynaecologist which includes the following:
- confirmation that the pregnancy is progressing without complications
- the expected due date
- the gynaecologist should expressly state that the patient’s pregnancy does not prevent her from flying
- in the case of uncomplicated twin or multiple pregnancies, flying is possible up to the end of the 32nd week of pregnancy
- because of the increased risk of thrombosis during pregnancy, we recommend the wearing of compression stockings in the aircraft
Lufthansa certificate for expectant mothers
Download the Lufthansa certificate for your doctor to fill out and carry it with you during your flight.
Lufthansa certificate as a PDF
Irrespective of the health prerequisites mentioned above, derogations from these apply in some countries. Lufthansa accepts no liability in the event that you are not given permission to fly on the grounds of a country-specific legal position. The same applies in cases where, because of your pregnancy, you are refused entry to your destination country on the basis of a local legal position. It is therefore strongly recommended that you find out well in advance from the relevant authorities about country-specific laws which relate to allowing expectant mothers to fly.
If you have any questions or require further information, the Lufthansa Medical Operation Centre will be pleased to assist you:
If you fly often, FREMEC makes your journeys easier, That’s because the Frequent Traveller’s Medical Card (FREMEC) was specifically developed for frequent flyers with disabilities.
More convenient booking with FREMEC
The Frequent Traveller’s Medical Card (FREMEC), specially developed for frequent flyers with reduced fitness to fly, contains all the important information relating to your care and replaces the medical care form that would otherwise be necessary for every flight. The validity of the card is determined by one of our doctors based on your medical condition.
Your individual service package is also determined by the FREMEC data. You must provide this data every time you request a booking. Please also note that you must contact the Lufthansa Medical Operation Centre by email at email@example.com every time you request a booking.
The card is valid on all airlines that are members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). FREMECs are issued by Lufthansa’s medical service.
At Frankfurt and Munich airports, Lufthansa provides special lounges for passengers requiring assistance. Support for these passengers is provided by a specially trained team of Lufthansa employees.
If you suffer from sleep apnoea and use a sleep therapy device (CPAP device), it is not necessary to specially register the device on Lufthansa flights simply to take it with you. You can take your sleep therapy device on board with you in addition to your usual carry-on baggage (max. 8 kg), as you would a laptop bag. If you need to use a sleep therapy device (CPAP device) during the flight, you will need to register this in advance via the Medical Operation Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that the sleep therapy device can only be battery operated. Supply of the on-board power cannot be guaranteed. In addition, if the device has a humidifier, please turn it off. We recommend that you carry with you a description of the device in case it is required for presentation at the security control.
Further information on taking medical devices on board with you in your carry-on baggage and regulations regarding the carriage of batteries, for example, can be found on our Dangerous Goods page.
Do you feel anxious or afraid on board?
Many people are unable to relax during a flight. According to a representative survey carried out in 2003 by the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research, 16% of Germans are afraid of flying, whilst a further 22% feel distinctly uneasy on board. A survey in Austria carried out in 2013 by checkfelix.com indicated that more than half of the passengers (55%) feel uneasy when they have to board an aircraft.
Considering how safe flying really is, these are mostly irrational fears (mainly based on insufficient or incorrect information) which can be overcome, ideally with the support of trained experts.
Tips for coping with a fear of flying
- Try to be as rested as possible before taking your flight.
- Get to the airport in good time before your flight – this will help you to become familiar with the atmosphere and situation.
- Keep your mind occupied during the flight by talking to your travelling companions or fellow passengers, listening to music, reading and so on.
- Drink plenty of water during the flight and avoid alcoholic drinks and drinks containing caffeine.
- Learn some relaxation techniques before your flight (e.g. progressive muscle relaxation and breathing techniques) and use these repeatedly before take-off and during the flight.
- Tranquillisers, especially psychotropic drugs such as benzodiazepine (‘Valium’, ‘Tavor’ (Lorazepam), etc.) should only be taken after discussion with your doctor. This also applies to plant-based remedies such as St. John’s Wort and valerian.
Medical care form
With certain diseases (e.g. heart/lung disease, stroke, etc.), injuries as a result of an accident, or chronic conditions, an assessment of your fitness to fly must be obtained from Lufthansa’s medical service.
If you have any questions about your health on flights, please contact:
Lufthansa Medical Operation Centre