How Long Should I Wait to Fly After Diving?
I can't remember the rule on flying after diving. Do I have to wait for 24 hours after diving or is it dependent on the time under water?
Thanks for the question. It is one I get asked fairly often.
There is no one answer that is right for every diver but there are definitely recommended times that you should wait to minimize your risk. I would consider the rules below to be the minimum amount of time you should wait.
The following guidelines are for flights higher than 2000-8000 feet - or pretty much any commercial flight. They are also only relevant for divers who show no sign of decompression illness prior to boarding the flight.
Of course, keep in mind that these recommendations reduce the risk of DCI but do not guarantee that a diver will not get DCI.
Follow DAN's Guidelines for No-decompression Diving
According to Diver's Alert Network (DAN), the current minimum recommended wait time after a single no-decompression dive is 12 hours. After multiple dives per day or multiple days of diving, a minimum surface interval of 18 hours is recommended.
If you had to do a decompression stop during a dive, the recommended time to wait before flying is a bit more of a gray area. DAN states that there is "little evidence on which to base a recommendation." However, they do say that a surface interval time of "substantially" longer than 18 hours would be prudent.
How you interpret this is an individual decision.
If you want to add a margin of safety, wait even longer than the guidelines above before you fly - for both no-decompression and decompression diving. The above recommended guidelines are minimums. Personally, I wait at least 24 hours before I fly.
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