10 Tips for Flying With Psoriatic Arthritis

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

A record 237 million people will fly somewhere during the summer months of 2018 according to Airlines for America, the industry trade group representing the airline industry. If you plan to join in the fun, there are certain things you can do to stay as healthy and happy as possible if you are living with psoriatic arthritis.

Mature Male Patient In Consultation With Doctor In Office

Talk to Your Doctor

A visit with your doctor before you travel can be especially helpful. If you are flying to a different climate or plan to be more active than usual, he may be able to temporarily adjust your medications. If you are traveling abroad and are required to get preventative vaccinations, he can tell you which vaccines are advisable or not with your present treatment regimen.

Talking to fellow passenger on plane.

Be Prepared to Educate Other Travelers

In the largest global survey of psoriasis patients to date, 84 percent of participants reported having faced discrimination or humiliation. Because most planes have very little space between seats, you may find yourself in a position of educating a fellow passenger. However, what you say to anyone about your condition is always completely up to you.

young woman on plane drinking out of cup

Stay Hydrated

Once you reach cruising altitude, the airplane will be pumping in outside air to keep the cabin air as fresh as possible. The bad news is that air at 30,000 feet is extremely dry. It is therefore very important that you drink as much as possible before and during the flight to combat the lack of moisture. Water and fruit juices will be your best bets for hydration. Try to avoid alcohol, at least until you land.

Empty long leg seats on airplane

Embrace Conveniences

Joint pain is common with psoriatic arthritis. Therefore, try to use as many conveniences as possible at the airport, such as close parking and curbside luggage check-in. When boarding the plane, choose a seat with as much leg room as possible, such as an aisle seat or a seat in the emergency exit row.

Travelers with carry-on bags.

Bring Medications on Board

According to one report, about six out of every 1,000 airline passengers will have bags that go astray. Knowing your prescription medications are with you on the plane is always a good idea whenever possible.

Packed and organized early.

Start Preparing Early

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, stress is a common trigger for a psoriasis flare. Stress can also take a bigger toll on you when you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Therefore, you want to do everything possible to control your stress before your trip. While there are some things that can only happen last-minute before you leave, there are other trip-planning tasks you can do well in advance like securing a house sitter, notifying the post office, and meeting with your doctor.

passengers standing in queue for check-in at airport

Consider TSA Pre-check

Try to avoid long security lines when possible. You can achieve this by flying mid-week when your schedule allows. You can also apply for a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) pre-check membership. According to the TSA, in May 2018, 92 percent of TSA pre-check members waited less than five minutes in security lines.

Trail mix in black bowl

Choose Good Food

Traveling can be synonymous with bad food choices. While there is no one diet for psoriatic arthritis, there are some general food guidelines that can help you stay on track during your travels. Replacing high-fat and high-sodium foods with dark fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds can help you feel your best on your trip.

Washing hands.

Bring Your Own Soap

Hand-washing is important in airports and on planes. If you have sensitive skin, then bringing your own soap may be a good idea. If you want to bring liquid soap, make sure it is in a travel-size container less than 3.4 ounces and is carried in a quart-sized clear plastic bag.

Dress in Layers

Temperatures on airplanes can vary widely between the runway and cruising altitude. Keeping your body at a comfortable temperature is important to preventing stiffness if you have psoriatic arthritis. Dress in layers so you can remove or add clothes during the flight to help you stay comfortable.

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Tracyshealthyliving.com. Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.