Ask DAN: Flying after diving

After missing a cruise ship departure, a diver had no choice but to fly to meet the ship at next port – 4 hours after diving. “Should I be worried?”

While on a cruise, I booked a dive excursion through one of the recommended vendors. As we finished the dive, the cruise ship was leaving port without me. We had just completed a dive to a maximum depth of 17 metres for 50 minutes on air, a 45-minute surface interval, and a second dive to a maximum depth of 13 metres for 50 minutes. The vendor and cruise line took responsibility for the mishap and booked me on a flight to meet the ship at the next port. Four hours elapsed from the end of my dives to my flight departure. I did not have any pain or symptoms during the flight, and I still feel fine. Should I be worried about decompression sickness (DCS)?  

DAN has well-established recommendations for safe flying after diving. Based on your dive profiles, the minimum recommended surface interval before flying should have been 18 hours.

Dive tables and computer algorithms are based on theoretical models and designed for the masses. It is practically impossible to create a model to determine an individual’s risk and the factors that would make someone susceptible to DCS. Many things determine a person’s decompression stress. The shallow dives and short bottom times may have helped in your situation, but nothing guarantees a repeat outcome under the same circumstances in the future.

View DAN’s Flying After Diving Guidelines in our Fast Facts Guide.

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