Flying after diving
Every diver who takes a dive certification course is taught that flying too soon after diving gives an increased risk of decompression sickness (DCS) due to the reduced pressure at altitude facilitating the faster release of nitrogen bubbles into the body. As guidelines can change and it may be a while since you took your Open Water course it’s worth a reminder.
Current PADI suggestions for flying after diving are:
Within the No-Decompression Limits:
- Single Dives: A minimum pre-flight surface interval of 12 hours is suggested.
- Repetitive Dives and/or Multi-Day Dives: A minimum pre-flight surface interval of 18 hours is suggested.
For Dives requiring decompression stops:
- A minimum pre-flight surface interval of greater than 18 hours is suggested.
So if you are taking a diving liveaboard vacation you should plan flights for at least 18 hours after diving, many divers wait 24 hours. Most liveaboards to the Similan and Surin islands do 2 or 3 dives on the final day of the trip with the last dive finishing around lunchtime which means you will need to allow one more night before you fly out of Phuket, or else skip the last day diving. Please check with us if you are unsure of the boat’s itinerary. All of today’s dive computers calculate the time until you can fly starting automatically from the moment you surface from your dive.
It is also worth noting that an adequate surface interval is just one of the factors in reducing the risks of decompression illness. Other factors include diving within safe limits, ascending slowing, performing safety stops, being generally fit and healthy to dive and staying well hydrated.
It is allowable to dive after flying without waiting any length of time however DAN Europe has this to say about diving after prolonged flights:
“Diving after prolonged flying may also be relatively risky, considering the tiredness, the change in time zones and especially the very frequent dehydration and upper respiratory tract dryness that accompanies prolonged flights. The position of DAN is to advice a period of at least 12 (better 24) hours after the flight, with appropriate rest, nutrition and re hydration, before diving.” (source)