Guidelines for Flying after diving

DAN’s guidelines for flying after diving are for cabin altitudes between 2,000 and 8,000 feet. What are the guidelines for divers who will be flying at altitudes outside of that range?

Most commercial flights keep cabin pressures between 2,000 and 8,000 feet (0.91–0.77 atmospheres). DAN has conducted and funded extensive human research to study the effects of exposures to those altitudes following different dive profiles and surface intervals.

Researchers formulated guidelines at DAN’s Flying after Diving Workshop. You can learn more about the guidelines from the DAN website .

There is not enough data to give you precise recommendations on what to do outside that range, but if you consider that the lower the altitudes, the higher the cabin pressure, the less of a physiological insult (and vice versa), you could rationalise a sensible approach to mitigate the risks.
  • For flights at cabin altitudes lower than 2,000 feet, you could theoretically have a slightly shorter surface interval before flying, but we suggest you follow the proven guidelines.
  • For flights at cabin altitudes between 8,000 and 10,000 feet, you should consider hypoxia as an added stressor to the decompression stress induced by decreased barometric pressure. 
  • Without supplemental oxygen, you can control only the preflight interval, and rationale suggests the longer the better. A sensible approach to this scenario could be to double the recommended surface interval times for the preceding dive history: 24 hours instead of 12 hours for a single no-decompression dive; 36 hours instead of 18 hours for multiple days of diving or multiple dives a day; and about 48 hours for dives requiring mandatory decompression stops.

These studies did not consider situations in which a diver returns from a dive trip and lands at an airport located above 8,000 feet of altitude. For such cases we suggest at least doubling the recommended times for the preceding dive history.
— DAN Research and Medicine

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