Air travel is now a common mode of travel for millions. Over 25 years ago it was already estimated that 5% of commercial airline passengers were ambulatory patients with some illness including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There are still no established methods for quantifying the risk of in-flight medical problems
Physicians should therefore be aware of the potential effects of the flight environment in passengers with lung disease.While pilots are subject to regular medical examination, passengers are not. For potential passengers with lung disease it is valuable for their physician to have recommendations for assessing their patients’ fitness for flight. For this purpose the British Thoracic Society (BTS) Standards of Care Committee set up a Working Party to formulate national recommendations for managing patients with lung disease planning air travel.