What are the rules around flying while pregnant?

Wesley Branch (left) welcomed his new daughter while on a plane to Japan. (Handout)

It’s always a relief to see there’s no screaming baby on board your flight, but sometimes one can emerge unexpectedly.

It happened this week when a Canadian couple welcomed their newborn daughter on an Air Canada flight en route to Japan.

New dad Wesley Branch said the birth was “totally unexpected.” Luckily, a doctor was also aboard and little Chloe is reportedly in good health.

There’s no word on precisely how far along the mother was, but most airlines allow very expectant mothers to fly.

There’s scant indication that flying will induce a pre-term pregnancy, but air travel can create health risks for pregnant women, and a plane cabin is hardly the ideal venue for a delivery.

Without any federal regulations on whether pregnant women can fly, each airline makes its own rules. The average pregnancy lasts around 37-40 weeks, and carriers tend to start restricting flights around week 36.

Air Canada and Jazz allow women with no history of premature birth or medical complications to fly up to and including week 36.

Sunwing follows the same policy as Air Canada: after 36 weeks, you’re grounded.

Air Transat has more restrictions according to the specific week. Up to 35 weeks, no problem. Between 36-38, the passenger needs a doctor’s note issued within 24 hours of departure. From week 39-onward, it won’t accept any pregnant fliers.

Porter has the same policy. Women between 36-38 weeks need a fresh doctor’s note. No pregnant woman can fly after 38 weeks.

WestJet is quite liberal; it allows women to fly at any point in their pregnancy, but suggests consulting with a doctor or midwife if flying after week 35.

Some airlines also create restrictions based on your expected delivery date, the length of the flight, and even whether you’re flying over water. Airlines are general forthcoming about their pregnancy policies — they don’t want to take a chance any more than you do — so be sure to check with your specific carrier.

Find a Lawyer