Taking last minute flights is truly an art-form – and if you know how to do this while avoiding insane flight prices and can deal with the spontaneity with ease, I salute you.
For those of us who like to plan a bit more and aren’t quite as flight-search-savvy – having to take a last minute flight can be insanely stressful and make a huge dent in one’s savings account.
And if you’re pregnant, it’s utter chaos.
This past weekend, someone in my family fell in bad health and was close to death, so I booked a flight, packed my bags, made arrangements for work and was in Canada within a matter of 15 hours. It was a whirlwind, to say the least.
Dealing with the emotion of it all was put on the back-burner as my boyfriend and I searched for a flight leaving the airport in the few hours. I hastily packed a bag while he confirmed the flight that would get me home to my loved one’s bedside by the next morning.
I made it to Canada in one (emotional) piece, my family member pulled through and is now stable enough to start treatment. Sitting here with them as they start treatments, I feel fortunate that it worked out the way it did, even though it was a difficult and stressful process.
In case you’re ever in a similar situation, here’s how to book your flight, and make the emergency trip as safely and calmly as possible:
HAVE SOMEONE ELSE HELP YOU BOOK YOUR FLIGHT
Especially if you’re an emotional wreck, searching for and booking a last minute flight can be almost impossible. As I tried to read the flight times through
my tears, my boyfriend whipped out his computer and told me he’d figure it out while I packed.
Having someone there to help you is not only a relief to you, but it also might save you from hastily booking the very first flight you find. If it’s an emotional situation, you could end up paying way too much or even booking the complete wrong flight – and that’s the last thing you need.
KNOW YOUR HEALTH LIMITS AND ACCOMMODATE THEM AS BEST YOU CAN
Even in times of emergency or crisis, you and your baby come first. Your baby has to come first, from now on out.
Depending on how your pregnancy has progressed, you may or may not have issues with trying to fly somewhere. I’ve researched this concept until my eyes were swimming, and the general consensus is that it’s relatively safe to fly (in a normal, low-risk pregnancy) until around week 32. Anytime after week 35 will be insanely difficult and come with a whole new set of risks.
KNOW THE BEST TIME IN YOUR PREGNANCY TO FLY AND TRY TO FIT IT IN THERE (AS BEST YOU CAN)
If you’re having to take last minute flights, it could be an emergency situation (like the one I found myself in this past week), and in that case you can’t really control when you will need or want to fly. Obviously in a case like that, you can only do the best with your options.
For me, I was just a few weeks away from my third trimester and I knew (just as a personal rule for myself) I didn’t want to fly anymore after I entered the home-stretch. So at 26 weeks, off I went on an emergency trip to Canada (from Belgium). I made sure my return flight was the day before my third trimester starts. Granted, the “no flying in the third trimester” thing is more my personal guideline as my pregnancy has been very low risk, but I wanted to feel the most comfortable in a tough situation, and this was how I did that.
Generally, the best time to fly during a pregnancy would be your (somewhat magical) second trimester. Your second trimester is the time (hopefully) between the nauseated state of your first trimester and the general discomfort of the third trimester. You will feel good enough to fly and yet still probably be big enough to reap the pregnancy perks of traveling (like more fluid/food on planes). x
CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR (IF YOU HAVE TIME)
If you have time to fit in a doctors appointment (or even just asking at your next ultrasound), definitely do it! Not only is it required by some airlines to have a doctors clearance to fly after a certain point, it will totally put your mind at ease knowing that you’ve been given the green light by a professional.
(IF YOU DON’T HAVE TIME) – GO BY HOW YOUR PREGNANCY HAS PROGRESSED SO FAR
For myself, I got the news of my fathers’ critical condition in hospital on a Saturday night, and flew out the next (Sunday) morning – so there was really no time to see a doctor. I based my choices and dates around how my pregnancy had progressed so far. I have been a really low-risk pregnant woman and had been working physical labor up until my third trimester was to start – so I felt relatively confident that the 8 hour flight wouldn’t be too much for me.
CHECK WITH AIRLINES (EVEN THE CONNECTING AIRLINES IF YOU HAVE CONNECTIONS)
Some airlines require a doctors clearance for pregnant women, and some airlines even reserve the right to turn you away if the pilot/crew decide they don’t want the risk. This tends to happen with pregnant fliers after the third trimester. Simply typing in “_____(airline) pregnancy policy” into Google will often give you links to their guidelines and policies (just make sure you’re reading from the airline official site).
DO YOUR BEST TO STAY ACTIVE AND HEALTHY DURING YOUR FLIGHT
Due to high altitude and cabin pressure (and being pregnant), you WILL experience swelling. I can almost guarantee it.
Be sure to get up and walk the isles every half hour to hour to lessen the swelling. This movement will also lessen the risk of blood clots.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR THINGS. YOU’RE PREGNANT – THAT CAN COME WITH IT’S PERKS
I am a serious advocate for the pregnancy perks. Ain’t no shame, girl. You’re swollen, large, uncomfortable and if your flying last minute because of an emergency, you’re probably a million times more emotional than your normal crazy-emotional pregnant self. Ask for more water, more food, better food, a nicer seat, etc. The worst they can do is say no, right?
CHECK IN WITH YOUR DOCTOR ONCE YOU RETURN HOME
Again, this is something that might even just put your mind at ease. Luckily, we already had an ultrasound booked for a few days after I had planned to come home – so that worked out well.
During this visit, be sure to explain the situation to your OB/GYN so they can assure you everything in the pregnancy is still okay.
TAKE YOUR PREGNANCY PAPERS WITH YOU (ALL OF THEM!)
Your initial blood work, your pregnancy documents and booklets, something with your due date on it (made official from the OB/GYN office) – all of these things are just really easy to shove into your bag and could potentially be things you really need if you’re questioned about your pregnancy at an airport on during your flight or if something goes wrong.
GET THE TRAVEL INSURANCE. ALL OF IT. AND MAKE SURE IT COVERS PREGNANCY COMPLICATIONS OR BIRTH
Because you just never know, right? And in the case of your baby – it’s always better to be prepared.
HYDRATE, LOTION UP AND SANITIZE
While you’re used to hydration being a hugely important part of your pregnancy, chances are if you’re flying somewhere for an emergency, sanitation is probably the last thing you’re thinking about. But you and baby need to be safe from the airport and airplane germs. Not to mention that flying tends to really dry out your skin, which tends to be a lot more sensitive and likely to dry out during pregnancy.