Health & Well-Being

Our customers sometimes ask us about medical conditions and air travel. American appreciates its customers' interest in health topics and encourages passengers to consult with their doctors prior to travel.

Peanut Allergy

American recognizes that some passengers are allergic to peanuts and other tree nuts. Although we do not serve peanuts, we do serve other nut products (such as warmed nuts) and there may be trace elements of unspecified nut ingredients,including peanut oils, in meals and snacks. We do not have in place procedures that allow our flight crews not to serve these foods upon request of a customer.  We do not provide nut “buffer zones”.  Our planes are cleaned regularly, but these cleanings are not designed to ensure the removal of nut allergens, nor are our air filtration systems designed to remove nut allergens. Additionally, other customers may bring peanuts or other tree nuts on board. Therefore, we cannot guarantee customers will not be exposed to peanuts or other tree nuts during flight, and we strongly encourage customers to take all necessary medical precautions to prepare for the possibility of exposure.

The Use of Insecticides on Some International Flights

In order to protect public health, agriculture and the environment from disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) requires aircraft to be sprayed with insecticide (disinsection) for some countries. Although the WHO concluded that disinsection should not present a health risk, some customers may experience some discomfort. For more information, visit the Department of Transportation website.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

What is DVT
A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that develops in a deep vein, usually in a leg. This is a serious condition. Sometimes these clots can break away and travel through the bloodstream to vital organs of the body and can cause severe injury or death.

Possible Risk Factors of DVT
Prolonged physical immobility, such as sitting for an extended period, is considered in the medical community to be a risk factor associated with DVT. People with certain medical conditions or who are taking some medications may also be at higher risk of developing a DVT, including conditions or medications that affect blood flow, alter normal blood-clotting mechanisms, or cause blood-vessel damage. Some of these are:

  • Blood-clotting disorders
  • Cancer
  • Increasing age or smoking
  • Major illness with hospitalization
  • Obesity or heart disease
  • Oral contraceptive use or hormone therapy
  • Personal or family history of a DVT
  • Pregnancy
  • Recent major surgery or trauma

Possible Symptoms of DVT
Many DVTs do not produce any symptoms. If symptoms occur, they may include pain, swelling, or redness in the affected area. Severe chest pain or problems breathing may indicate that a clot has traveled to the lungs. Any concern should be evaluated by a physician immediately.

Possible Ways to Reduce the Risk of DVT
American encourages all passengers to consult with their doctors about DVT and other personal health issues before flying. Because the cause of a DVT is often not known, the best methods of preventing DVTs are still uncertain. To try to reduce the risk of DVT, many passengers may be advised by their doctors to take the following measures in flight:

  • Regularly change leg position, and periodically move and stretch your legs and feet while seated. Your doctor may suggest leg exercises — such as those described in the box below — at regular intervals (at least every hour or so).
  • If conditions allow and the aisles are clear, you may want to occasionally get up and walk around. But remember that you must remain seated when the seat belt light is on and should remain in your seat with your seat belt fastened whenever possible, because of the possibility of turbulence. And all passengers are required to comply with crew-member and/or FAA instructions — especially those relating to remaining seated.
  • Avoid crossing the legs at the ankles or knees.
  • Stay hydrated; drink adequate nondiuretic fluids — such as water, juice, and milk — and minimize alcohol and caffeine intake.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Wear graduated-compression stockings.

It is possible that no measure intended to prevent DVT will be effective. It is also possible that some of the measures listed above may not be recommended for some passengers, depending on their health situations as assessed by their doctors.

There are many sources of general information about air travel and health, including Internet sites like the Aerospace Medical Association, at www.asma.org*, the World Health Organization, at www.who.int*, and the Society for Vascular Surgery, at http://www.vascularweb.org, which provide information for passengers and their doctors. (Views expressed or implied by such sources, are not necessarily shared by American Airlines, Inc. or any of its affiliates).

Possible In-Flight Exercises
Ankle circles: Lift your foot off the floor and draw a circle in the air with your toes pointed. Continue for 30 seconds. Repeat with your other foot. Foot pumps: While keeping your heels on the floor, point your feet up as high as possible toward your head. Put both feet back flat on the floor. While keeping the balls of your feet on the floor, lift both heels high. Continue for 30 seconds. Knee Lifts: While seated, march slowly in place by contracting each thigh muscle. Continue for 30 seconds.
Knee to Chest: Hold your left knee and pull up toward your chest. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Slowly return to floor. Alternate legs 10 times.

These exercises should not be performed if they cause pain or discomfort, or if they are not recommended by your doctor.