Can I Fly the same day as Scuba Diving?
Flying after scuba diving is possibly one of the most asked questions when booking a day trip or PADI course here in Phuket, Thailand. “When is it safe to fly? Can i fly the same day as scuba diving? If i finish my course on Friday can i fly that night?” This question is covered in all beginners Open Water Course’s, however the recommendations do change from time to time, and if you haven’t dived in a while you may have simply forgotten some dive theory (perhaps you need a refresher?). There are also a few different numbers thrown around when asking people in the dive community, 12 hours? 8 hours? 24 hours?
The current flying after diving recommendations from PADI and DAN 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
Any dives that required a decompression stop – Substantially longer than 18 hours
The “single dives” recommendation does not affect us here really. All dive trips that we offer (day trips) include 2 or 3 dives, and the Similan Island liveaboards are all multiple day trips with 2 – 4 dives per day. So the number you need to remember is 18 Hours.
If you are planing on doing the 3 dive day trip’s here in Phuket or the Open Water Course with Aussie Divers then the last dive of the day is usually around 4-5pm, with the 18 hour rule you will need to wait until at least 10 or 11am the following day prior to taking a flight, or to be conservative 4-5pm. Some people do prefer to wait 24 hours, it’s up to you – if your schedule allows, why not have a full relaxing day off before flying out?
Note: Following these recommendations reduces DCS (the bends) risk but does not 100% guarantee that a diver will avoid DCS. There are of course other factors involved. A major factor in a hot country like Thailand is dehydration – make sure you stay well hydrated when you are on a dive trip.
What About Diving After Flying?
There is no problem with diving after flying. However, dehydration can increase your risk of DCS, if you are taking a long haul flight then be sure to drink lots of non-alcoholic drinks during the flight to prevent dehydration. Please also remember that alcohol contributes to dehydration, so take it easy on the beers!
Travel And Diving Insurance
We recommend that all divers have their own travel and medical insurance, as well as cancellation insurance. Be sure that your travel insurance policy covers scuba diving! However, prevention is better than cure, so dive safely, follow the rules, use tables and computers and stay healthy! For dive insurance look at DAN, in-depth or Dive Assure. We can arrange daily dive insurance though in-depth for around an additional THB 200/day, this will give you piece of mind whilst travelling.
Going to altitude after diving?
The same rules should apply to going to any altitude (over 300m/1000ft) after scuba diving. Climbing mountains and heading up into higher altitude lowers the ambient pressure around you, and also increases the risk of DCS. You should wait at least 18 hours prior to doing any mountain hike’s or driving/travelling across a mountain range.
Basically the best thing to consider doing after diving is relaxing on a beach, with a beer in your hand and watching the sun set, you are in Thailand after all!