Scuba Diving and Flying – When can you fly?



How quickly can you fly after scuba diving?  We are asked this question frequently by divers and it is an important one.

Studies were carried out in the 1990’s using volunteer divers attending medical trials at the the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology (Hyperbaric Center) at Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina. A set of guidelines were issued and these now provide the accepted rules for diving and flying. They are:

Single dives – A minimum pre-flight surface interval of 12 hours

Repetitive dives or multiple days diving – A minimum pre-flight surface interval of 18 hours

For Dives requiring decompression stops – A minimum preflight surface interval of greater than 18 hours is suggested

  * source

Further research is currently being carried out at the same facility, and it is possible that further guidelines will be issued at some point in the future. Until that time, it is always sensible to err on the side of caution.


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What about diving after flying? You’ve just got off the plane and are desperate to start your diving adventure. Is there a minimum time you should wait after your flight?

There are no set limits for diving after flying, but they may be factors that can cause problems. Dehydration, crossing time zones, tiredness and stress can all result from long haul air travel and may be a factor in DCS. If you are tired before you start diving, you may find you are not at your most alert. It may be wise to give yourself a break after flying to rest, eat properly and rehydrate before diving.

The moral, as always, is dive sensibly and to enjoy yourself. After all, that’s what diving is all about!


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