For whatever reason you’ve got a flight scheduled within 12 to 72 hours after getting a fresh tattoo. We won’t judge, and for the most part this really won’t be a problem, especially if you’re leaving on the back half of that timeline. That said, some insight will go a long way towards deciding whether or not it’s a practical choice. If you want to know more about general travel (including implications of a given destination) after getting a tattoo click here. Otherwise, for those who have to fly out on the day of or very soon after getting inked we encourage you to read below.
3 Things to Know About Flying After Getting a Tattoo
1. Flight Discomfort and Where Not to Tattoo
Don’t get a tattoo on your a$$ if you have a flight this week. Even a 30-min jaunt from YVR to Kelowna can feel like an eternity. It may be pretty obvious that you should avoid inking your gluteus maximus when you have to squeeze into a cramped seat (assuming you’re not first class, that is) but you also want to avoid a flight for a week if getting tattooed on the back of your thigh. A tattoo on the upper back around the shoulder blades will also cause discomfort, but for short flights (under 2 hours) it won’t bother most people.
In fact, the length of a flight also plays into all tattoos, especially when cabin comfort isn’t all that comfortable. Most continental (North American) airlines are OK, but some overseas airlines are infamous for poor air conditioning and unsanitary conditions in the lavatory when compared to their Canadian and U.S. counterparts. This will make you feel even more discomfort in the initial phase, and may complicate the healing process. It’s basically a good idea to avoid overseas flights for up to a week if getting a medium to large tattoo unless you’re more experienced in getting inked and understand how your body heals. Again, for more in-depth knowledge about keeping your tattoo clean while traveling click here.
2. Leave Enough Time to See How the Tattoo Takes
If you must hop a flight shortly after getting a tattoo at least try to allow a 24-36 hour window before claiming your window seat. This will give you some time (albeit not optimal) to see if you’re having an unexpected and/or rare skin reaction (allergic or otherwise) at which point you can run in to see your tattooist. If severe, they may recommend that you visit a medical clinic to avoid further complications. This isn’t likely, but when it comes to air travel it’s better to err on the side of caution.
Remember, while clients need to follow their artist’s aftercare instructions after leaving the studio, it’s even more critical to do so when flying within a day or two of the tattoo.
3. Security and Customs Officers
Some of you may have an unanticipated run in with good ol’ TSA. Transport Security Authority personnel are pretty much trained to be jerks, or perhaps it’s just a prerequisite on their job application. They make a big whoop-de-doo if you forget to take your flip flops off when walking through their scanners so don’t be surprised if they eye your tattoo bandage with suspicion. Look, these are the same people who inspect infant diapers, are convinced that an EpiPen is a weapon, and God forbid if you leave a drop of water in your Aquafina bottle. Simply put, assume that your bandage will come under scrutiny. To avoid removing the bandage and exposing it to air filled with the germs of a hundreds of thousands of coughing and sneezing passengers, take a photo of your tattoo (for viewing, if they ask) and even show TSA the receipt from the studio.
Customs agents (as applicable) won’t be as concerned with your bandage and you won’t have much of an issue with them unless you have a fresh design that besmirches the country and culture of the place you’re about to visit.
If you want to get a tattoo before a flight this week, schedule a consultation at an Adrenaline Studios shop near you to discuss.