can you wear a leg brace on a plane

Can You Wear a Leg Brace on a Plane?

When flying on an airplane, people with weak or injured knees may require the use of a knee brace to get through the long flight. So, there the question remains, can you wear a leg brace on a plane? 

You may need to know the answer at any point in your life. So, I will discuss this in detail in this blog post. But first, let’s review some basics about what knee braces are and why you might need one during your next trip.

Table of Contents

What is a leg brace, and when will you require this?

A leg brace is basically a support for your injured leg. It helps you not to get hurt any further over the same injury. 

A leg brace restricts the movement of the leg in a given direction, it helps to move, immobilizes a joint of the leg, and thus assists in maintaining and correcting the shape of the body.

These knee braces are mostly made of wood, foam, metal, elastic materials, plastic, etc. As people of different sizes may require it from time to time, these braces come in different sizes and designs.

Eligibility criteria

If you tell the airline company way before about your health condition, there is no way for you to not be able to travel by that particular plane wearing a leg brace. On top of that, there is no restriction regarding leg braces from TSA as well if you are thinking of carrying an extra one with you.


But there is no denial of the fact that a number of health conditions make traveling more difficult than it needs to be. 

Still, there are ways to get around for most of them.

If you’re flying for business or pleasure, consider reaching out to your airline in advance and letting them know about your situation. 

You never know what sort of policies they have in place. 

At a minimum, prepare by staying hydrated, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and salt prior to your flight. 

Also, pack light. The less heavy baggage you take through security checkpoints and onto airplanes, the easier life will be once onboard. 

Before you travel, search out flying with a brace/cast/crutches online. 

Many patient organizations maintain lists of tips that can help ease travel concerns. So, don’t let yourself become paralyzed by your condition.

If it isn’t that big of an issue for you at home, chances are it won’t cause much trouble when flying either. Embrace these tips as an opportunity to get some extra shut-eye during takeoff and landing. 

Most planes offer outlets at each seat, so bring along a long charging cord for laptop computers or backup batteries for smartphones. 

It may feel weird leaning back and taking up space while wearing a knee brace, but remember that all those other passengers need their rest too! 

Many airlines also sell sleep masks to help minimize light exposure. 

Have a plan for dealing with delay

From TSA lines to weather issues, flights are sometimes delayed because of circumstances beyond your control. 

So before you fly, research your options for getting from point A to point B in case of unexpected complications. 

It can reduce a lot of your hassles and lessen so many physical hassles that you will be going through for that.

Costs of flying with a leg brace

If you need to fly with a leg brace, it’s likely that your first question will be, How much will it cost me to fly with my leg brace? 

This isn’t an easy question to answer because there are many factors that go into deciding how much it costs to get from Point A to Point B. 

The only way to figure out exactly what it would cost is to go through your options. It might end up being cheaper for you to purchase another airline ticket than have them carry-on or check-in your equipment for free. 

It will ultimately save money in addition to minimizing delays and other hassles. 

However, every airline is different and some may offer some steep discounts just for flying certain airlines regularly. 

Additionally, if you do plan on flying a lot with your leg brace while traveling by plane, make sure to look into travel insurance. In this way, any delays due to weather or mechanical problems won’t cost you more than expected. 

And lastly, don’t forget about purchasing a new seat belt extender if your brace doesn’t already include one! Though they aren’t very expensive and can be added onto virtually any existing leg brace, keep in mind that not all airplane seats have extra room.

What to pack in your carry-on luggage

When you are traveling, you want to make sure that you can fit all of your belongings into your carry-on luggage. 

This includes any mobility aids, such as crutches or a leg brace. If you do not think that your item will fit in a carry-on bag, there are two options: check baggage or gate check. 

When checking luggage at an airport, they charge fees for every checked bag and may even weigh it before they allow it on board. 

The airline’s policy allows people with injuries to gate-check their bags. In order to qualify for a free gate check, passengers must be able to lift their bags onto the plane by themselves and then maneuver them onto their seats without assistance from another person. 

If they cannot meet these requirements because of disability, then they will be required to pay a fee, which varies based on where they fly. 

The airline personnel should give further instruction when available. Passengers must also request a gate check at least 60 minutes prior to boarding, as well as notify someone who is willing to pick up and take care of their bags while they travel. 

They may bring one carry-on bag on board with them, but anyone traveling via air who has certain medical devices such as braces will need special permission first. 

So remember to plan ahead if you are flying using air transportation.

How to tell the airline staff that you have a medical condition

It is the best way to get the needed assistance from the airlines is to inform them beforehand. But how can you inform them?

Take a hand note from the doctor before the flight

Be sure to make an appointment with your doctor before you fly. 

Print out copies of your medical records in case you are asked for them. Tell them your situation, and have them write an official note saying that you require special assistance during air travel. If possible, bring a copy of your doctor’s note with you on your trip. Bring another one just in case it gets lost. 

Consult with people

It is also helpful to talk to people who can offer their advice about flying if you aren’t able to get a definitive answer from your doctor or airline representatives. 

Join online discussion boards

You might also find it useful to join online support groups or discussion boards where you can ask questions related to travel while wearing a leg brace. You can also share advice and experiences with other people who may be facing similar issues while traveling.

This will allow you to learn from each other and gain insight into what strategies worked or didn’t work for others. You can learn a lot by reading what others have done when faced with various situations. 

Contact with the airlines via phone call or mail

In addition, most airlines now offer disabled passengers the option of checking into flights at specific times prior to departure, so they can prepare themselves accordingly prior to boarding. 

Be sure to contact your airline ahead of time and arrange such accommodations, so you don’t miss any part of your flight due to problems arising once onboard.

Pre-boarding preparation

When you are traveling with an injury, then you have to be well-prepared for all sorts of potential odds. To make you prepared for any such situation, the following tips you can consider as pre-boarding preparation.

Visiting airlines website

Always be sure to visit your airline’s website to read their policy regarding mobility devices. If you have any questions, call them beforehand. They should be able to walk you through what you need. 

Remember, it’s up to you and your doctor or therapist whether your leg brace is needed. However, airlines can always refuse entry if they deem it a safety risk. 

Wearing black sneakers or athletic shoes

Depending on which knee you are using it for, wear either black sneakers or athletic shoes when going through security. The TSA will often mark these as invisible footwear during screening, so don’t take it off before getting to security! 

Search for travel-friendly leg brace that fits

Most manufacturers sell special packs designed specifically for airplane travel; make sure yours fits in one. 

Taking support from the well-trained airport personnel

As an added bonus, airport personnel is well-trained to assist those who may require assistance with their support gear, you shouldn’t have any problems unless there is turbulence or an emergency landing. 

Always asking for help

And remember, although your plastic knee brace may be considered dangerous by some, you should never feel uncomfortable asking for help! 

Traveling by plane has its challenges, but don’t let that deter you from visiting faraway places, it can easily become a great vacation activity once you find a good packer. 

Before take off and landing etiquette

There is some take off and landing tips that can give you the much needed relief. Here are some of these.

Taking off the shoes after take off

After you’ve fastened your seatbelt, take off your shoes and make sure to put them under or in front of your chair. Your feet have just been caged up for several hours, so it makes sense to let them breathe and also to avoid any potential foot odor. 

Make sure your leg is not going to get hurt

Just be sure not to kick back and leave yourself vulnerable. There are plenty of airport horror stories of people getting kicked off flights for their barefoot experience. 

Avoid possible swelling of the feet

When flying with braces, many airlines will request that you purchase an additional ticket due to possible flight delays. 

Additionally, for those who have leg braces that inhibit movement, it is very important to get clearance from your doctor before flying anywhere if there is a possibility of swelling during long periods of time in planes. 

Although rarer, some individuals may experience blood clots while flying which can cause issues if left untreated, including cardiac arrest. 

This can also occur when sitting still for too long. 

To prevent these occurrences, walk around after boarding, stretch your legs every hour or two and/or drink plenty of water to stay hydrated! 

Find out easily accessible bathroom

Be aware that there may be limited bathroom access when in a brace at times; however, most airports now have handicap-accessible bathrooms available. 

Make sure to wear non-skid socks when wearing leg braces

It may sound obvious but when walking around you want to make sure you feel secure with every step. Non-skid socks will allow you to do just that by giving you traction as you move about. 

Wearing something comfortable is key

Whether it’s your favorite pair of sweatpants or shorts and t-shirt, make sure to pick out something comfortable and easy to move around in while traveling. 

Not only do they keep you comfy while seated, but they give you options in case there are no restrooms nearby. It’s best to wear clothes that don’t restrict movement. 

Purchase a shoehorn

Shoes can sometimes fit snugly even without one, but purchasing a shoehorn gives you added assistance in getting your shoes on and off easily without assistance from anyone else. 

Inform the flight attended regarding the injury

When traveling via plane,  informing airline personnel ahead of time is crucial. Inform the flight attended about the medical issue, just securing your seat.

As much as you would like to think that everything goes perfectly on your trip, Murphy’s Law always seems to rear its ugly head. 

So make sure to notify airline personnel ahead of your flight if you plan on traveling with crutches or a leg brace. Most importantly, bring documentation showing your condition and/or medical need for you to use them.

Comfort on board

As you prepare for your next flight, consider what’s most important: making it to your destination comfortably or taking up extra space in your carry-on bag. 

Thankfully, there are ways to bring essential leg and foot support onto an airplane without adding bulk. Most manufacturers offer compression socks that can be worn discreetly under a normal pair of shoes. 

Whichever option you choose, just make sure your brace is stable and won’t move around once it’s strapped into place. 

If you aren’t confident in its stability, talk to a doctor before flying. It’s true that most orthopedic braces will get in your way when boarding and exiting a plane though.

Taking off the brace while going through the metal detector

It’s safest to simply take off your brace when walking through airport security. Most officers check tickets first, so you’ll only need to leave your brace behind while passing through metal detectors. 

Having proper travel insurance 

And remember: no matter how careful you are with your brace while traveling, it may still take damage from being handled by airline staff. Make sure to buy travel insurance prior to departure so that you have all the protection and coverage you need in case of injury or theft. 

Post-flight recovery

To help reduce swelling and pain, most doctors recommend elevating your legs while they’re at rest. If you plan to wear a leg brace while flying, it’s advisable to request an aisle seat, so you can stretch out or even lie down if necessary. 

This allows for additional legroom and easy access to your ice pack when required. Always carry over-the-counter medications in case of irritation or discomfort during flight.

Above all else, try to avoid leaning forward because it may put unnecessary pressure on your feet. Be mindful of your posture as well by avoiding slouching. 

Finally, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout your trip to stay hydrated.  It’s common for patients to get dehydrated after surgery due to decreased mobility.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Can you fly with an injured knee?

It is mostly allowed to fly with an injured leg. But when the injury is serious, with a higher chance of a blood clot, then there could be some certain complications in there.

When should you wear a leg brace?

Physicians advise wearing a leg brace for stabilizing an injured leg and also giving it support to avoid any potential leg injury in the future.

Can you fly with a broken leg?

Yes, you can but for certain cases, the airlines may want to you to wait for at least 24 to 48 hours.

Wrapping things up 

Just like all types of assistive devices, there are rules in place to make sure that you’re safe and comfortable. By now you have got the answer of can you wear a leg brace on a plane. 

While traveling by plane is no longer difficult for those with leg braces, it does require some planning. Make sure to consult your airline before you go! Remember, it might be best not to wear them during take-off or landing. But don’t worry, your knee brace should protect you well enough as long as you follow instructions from your doctor. 

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