Here’s a question that often comes up : I fly tomorrow, can I dive today? You will soon realize that there is no simple answer to this question.
Why is flying dangerous after diving?
After a dive, your body has stored nitrogen residual. This residual gas can take 12 to 24 hours to fully disappear from your body. Nitrogen, as you have learned during your diver training, is an inert gas that accumulates during your immersion. At the end of each dive, the divemaster usually ask for a 3-minute safety stop at 5 meters depth to get as much nitrogen as possible from your body. After the dive, in case of a second dive, the divemaster also respect a dive interval. The risk attributed to the flight is that, during this degassing time, any drop in ambient pressure as in a pressurized airplane can cause an uncontrolled venting of the nitrogen’s excess and increase the risk of decompression sickness.
How long I have to wait after diving?
It is simple to make sure to be safe, just apply the following guidelines:
I have a dive computer: this is a valuable ally indicating optimally the minimum waiting time before boarding the plane.
I do not have a dive computer: international rules are, for dives within no-decompression:
- – After a single dive: 12 hours waiting is recommended.
- – After repetitive dives and / or after diving several days: a 18 hours surface interval is recommended.
- – For dives requiring decompression stops: a surface interval greater than 18 hours is recommended.
Each scuba diver is different
Also be aware that every individual is different, which means that there is no single answer to the question of how long to wait before taking the plane. Common sense advises us to wait 24 hours before taking it. In principle, it should reduce the risk of desaturation to virtually zero zero risk does not exist , and gives a very wide safety margin .