Can you fly and dive? - Everything you need to know

diving and flying

Is it a good idea to dive and fly by plane shortly after? This doubt is more common than you might think and now in our post we will answer you with all the details. 

First of all, the first thing you should know is that it is not advisable to dive and fly without waiting a reasonable amount of time, but why exactly, what are the risks, and even more important, how long should I wait to take my plane? To solve all these doubts (and more) Join us!

Is it dangerous to dive and fly in an airplane?

Yes, flying shortly after diving can be very detrimental to our health and we will explain why. 

First of all, remember that the air we breathe every day is composed of 78% nitrogen, which is distributed in the tissues and blood of our body. This gas remains in equilibrium within our body, unless pressure changes occur, which is precisely what happens when we dive. 

When diving, the atmospheric pressure increases rapidly and, as a consequence, the amount of nitrogen increases progressively according to the depth of the dive and its duration. 

For this very reason, divers make a slow ascent to the surface, because in this way they are able to gradually eliminate the nitrogen that accumulated in their bodies during the dive. 

When we reach land, a significant part of this gas has been expelled. However, at this point we must take into account that each body reacts in a particular way and not everyone has the same capacity to eliminate it equally. Therefore, it may take several hours to free the body and reach a balance. 

Now that we have reached this point, what does all this have to do with diving before flying in an airplane? The answer is simple. When we take a flight, we are subjected to a lower pressure that generates a kind of shock with the high pressure we were exposed to while diving and, from which, our body does not recover as quickly. 

Therefore, if we decide to dive and fly on the same day we may run the risk of suffering from decompression sickness

This problem is triggered as a consequence of experiencing a lower atmospheric pressure than the one we were subjected to before, which causes the nitrogen lodged in the organism to form bubbles in the tissues, which could obstruct the bloodstream and cause serious health problems

after diving can i travel by plane?

How long is it necessary to wait to fly after diving?

The DAN (Divers Alert Network) organization recommends the following guidelines for flights from 610 to 2,438 meters (2,438 to 2,438 meters)

  • 1 no-decompression dive: It will be necessary to wait 12 hours before flying. 
  • Successive dives (on the same day or on several consecutive days): The minimum wait must be 18 hours
  • Deep dives with decompression: You must wait a minimum of 24 hours

On the other hand,
the Spanish Society of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR) recommends not to fly in an airplane within 24 hours after immersion.. In case you have dived with decompression stops, you should increase this period of time.

It is important to keep in mind that these are all estimated time intervals and that there is no rule of thumb that can 100% guarantee that decompression illness will not occur. The reason is that each diver has a very specific dive profile, as well as particular physical conditions, all of which influence the possible development of a decompression problem. 

But you don't have to worry, as most dive computers integrate an option to calculate the hours you should be out of the air. These measurements are especially accurate because they are made based on the actual nitrogen saturation we have accumulated

Is it also dangerous to dive after flying?

Not at all! There is no problem if you decide to dive a day after traveling by plane. Remember that the prohibition of flying after diving is based on the oversaturation with nitrogen that our body experiences when we dive, so don't be afraid if you want to get out of the plane and jump directly into the sea

4 Safety recommendations for scuba diving and air travel

In addition to following the tips we have mentioned throughout the post, you can take other safety measures to minimize the risk of suffering from decompression sickness. Therefore, before boarding the plane, take note of these recommendations: 

1. Your physical condition matters Don't forget that!

An important point to keep in mind is that if you choose to dive when you are tired, stressed or dehydrated, your body may have difficulty expelling the nitrogen you absorbed during the activity. This can increase the risk of decompression sickness, so before you dive, make sure you are rested, relaxed and well hydrated. 

If you have already dived in these conditions, it is recommended to wait more than 18 hours to travel by plane. Whenever possible, however, comply with the time lapse established by your dive computer, as you will have a more accurate estimate. 

2. Learn how your dive computer works

Modern dive computers allow us to display the time we have to wait before boarding a plane. Therefore, to properly master this function when you make your dive, read the manual of the device and make the necessary adjustments before taking your flight

Also note other parameters such as ascent rate and no-decompression limit time. This will help you follow a safe dive plan. 

3. Be careful about partying after diving.

Keep in mind that alcohol may have effects on the body for up to 24 hours after consumption, which can negatively affect your body's ability to dissipate nitrogen. This will be especially detrimental if you start drinking right after your last dive

4. Plan deep dives on the first days of your vacation.

In deeper dives our body accumulates a higher level of nitrogen, as we get closer to the no decompression limits. Therefore, as we will need more time to expel this gas from our organism, the ideal is to plan them at the beginning of the vacation, while the shallower dives could be done about 2 days before the end of our trip. 

dive before flying

Remember that if you have any questions, you can tell us in the comments and we will gladly answer you. And if what you are looking for is to practice scuba diving in charming places and with reliable professionals, drop us a Whatsapp! In our Dive Center in Lanzarote we are ready to make the most incredible adventure of your life come true. 

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