Many parents worst nightmare in the build up to a holiday, whether it’s the once in a lifetime family holiday to Disneyland in Florida
, or a short break away with the kids, discovering Chickenpox could leave you unable to fly. We take a look at various airline policies for flying with Chickenpox, what you need to do and in the worst cases, does your travel insurance cover a cancelled holiday.
What are Chickenpox?
Chickenpox (varicella) is an infectious illness that mostly affects children, however you can get it at any age. Chickenpox start with red spots and can appear anywhere on the body. The red spots fill with fluid and form blisters, often spreading, but not always. The blisters dry up, scab over and heal. Depending on the severity of the Chickenpox, the whole process can take about 7 days from first sign of red spots to scabbed over blisters. Chickenpox are highly contagious at the red spot stage, however once the blisters have scabbed over they are no longer considered contagious.
Airline Chickenpox Policy (infectious diseases)
The general rule of thumb is that airlines will allow you to fly with Chickenpox once beyond the contagious stage (dry blistered stage). Most, if not all airlines will require a Fit to Fly certificate that can be issued by your GP at home (or doctor / medical centre if abroad), or in some cases an airport physician may be able to issue a certificate. You should always check with your airline as soon as you aware of Chickenpox to avoid being refused access to the plane at the airport. US airlines generally do not have a specific policy and rather ask passengers to ensure they are fit to fly and that a GP fit to fly letter is required. Chickenpox are vaccinated against in the US so far less common.
*time after last spot appeared
After Last Spot*
Fit to Fly
What if you catch Chickenpox whilst abroad?
If you discover Chickenpox whilst you are on holiday, you may not be permitted to fly home. You should consider the following actions;
- See advice from doctor / medical centre
- Request a Fit to Fly certificate – the airline will likely require one
- Extend your holiday (re-schedule flight / extend accommodation / car rental)
- Allow sufficient time to ensure your child (or you) is fully rested and healed to ensure your re-arranged travel times can be met, Chickenpox usually clear within 7 days.
Does Travel Insurance Cover Cancelled / Extended Holiday due to Chickenpox?
The good news is that yes, most policies (those worth having at least) will cover any medical, travel expenses and holiday extensions incurred as a result of being unable to travel due to Chickenpox. The main restriction being that the policy is purchased PRIOR to the infection becoming known, you may need a doctors note to prove this. It’s recommended that you purchase travel insurance as soon as your travel plans are confirmed anyway rather than wait until just before you travel to get the full benefit of any policy.
What is a Fit to Fly Certificate?
Not limited to chickenpox, there are many conditions that may require a Fit to Fly certificate, either from your GP at home, or from a health practitioner if you are abroad when catching / showing symptoms of chickenpox. Many airlines will require a Fit to Fly certificate as per their terms and conditions and have the right to refuse travel if you are unable to provide one. Many airports have an on-site physician who some airlines will accept a last-minute Fit to Fly certificate, however it’s best to ensure you have all you need to travel long before arriving at the airport. Fit to Fly certificates must be issued and dated within 6 days of departure to be valid.