Traveling by Airplane with Ear Infections

Traveling by airplanes with ear infections is no laughing matter. The water in Kuta today was gross, I should not have gone in, but I did. I even went under water and now it feels as though I have an ear infection in the making and I fly in ~1 week.

Ever had an ear infection? When you swim and go deeper it hurts as you descend. When it comes to air travel, picture yourself going through different pressures on a freight train and there is nothing you can do to stop it, the pilot is not going to “turn around” because your ear hurts. When swimming you simply stop going deeper, on an airplane… During take off and touch down are the worst times for the unlucky soul caught in this predicament.

The risks are severe, you could pop your ear drum and most extreme discomfort at the very least. As a result I will check how it feels tomorrow and if it’s bad, immediately get some drops or anti-biotics. I broke a golden rule of mine.

Typically, I try not to swim ~5-7 days before I fly. If the locals tell you the water is dirty, that goes 10 fold. In Kuta, this time of year, it is known for having lots of dead fish and garbage washing up on shore. I saw a multitude of dead fish today but having not swam in a while decided to just “go for it”.

If you do have an ear infection, I strongly advise not flying. Even if it means “biting the bullet” and extending a visa, paying a late fee and having to change flights. If you know you have one and can’t go, make the change as soon as possible. Often times if you are ~24 hours in, they won’t let you or the fee is significantly increased.

I had an ear infection once while traveling for business, we changed flights and I just hung out in a hotel for a few days with hardcore antibiotics. The risk of “blowing an ear drum” or even the severe pain that juts doesn’t stop that comes with it is simply not worth it, regardless of the additional fees incurred.


  1. Meh

    March 24, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    I know how it feels like to travel on an airplane with an ear infection. It is the most painful, excruciating pain I’ve ever felt in my short life. It felt like my brain was constantly being stabbed, even after the flight. The take off and descent were the most painful and longest, I also had to take 2 planes for 3hours each that meant 2 painful take offs and 2 painful descents. Never go on an airplane with an ear infection, ever, it’s not worth the pain T^T

    • Nadja

      December 30, 2012 at 6:28 am

      OMG really…
      I have swimmers ear and I’m flying in 2 days, it’s a 12 hour flight

      • Rob

        December 30, 2012 at 7:41 am

        Good luck and the length isn’t issue, it’s going up and down. One long flight is best case scenario I think. Numerous short ones would be horrible.

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