Fear of Flying Policy

Burney Street Practice Policy for prescribing diazepam for fear of flying


Burney Street Medical Practice is unable to prescribe sedatives to patients for fear of flying including benzodiazepines (such as diazepam). Many other GP practices have a similar policy.


Diazepam in the UK is a Class C/Schedule IV controlled drug. The following short guide outlines the issues surrounding its use with regards to flying and why the practice no longer prescribes such medications for this purpose.


  • They are sedating drugs which can cause safety concerns. If you are drowsy, your reaction times may be slower and you may be unable to act quickly in an emergency on-board a flight. If you are drowsy you may move around less and sit for longer, increasing the risk of a DVT (blood clot) in the leg or even lung. This can have serious (even fatal) outcomes.


  • They can cause respiratory depression (slower breathing rate) which can be dangerous as blood oxygen levels are already reduced at high altitude.


  • Whilst most people find benzodiazepines like diazepam sedating, a small number of people experience the opposite effect and may become aggressive. Benzodiazepines can also cause disinhibition and lead you to behave in a way that you would not normally. This could impact on your safety as well as that of other passengers and could also get you into trouble with the law.


  • They are a controlled (regulated) drug in the UK and we must prescribe medications safely: The use of benzodiazepines to treat phobia (fear) is contraindicated (ie. not allowed) – this is the advice given in the BNF (drug formulary) which is the manual used for information about drugs. They are only indicated for severe or disabling anxiety – we would not advocate flying if a patient was suffering from this.


  • Benzodiazepines are illegal in some countries meaning you may risk breaking the law if you take these medications with you.


  • They should not be mixed with alcohol which may be available to buy on or before a flight.



Given the above we will no longer be providing Diazepam or similar drugs for flight anxiety. Any doctor prescribing diazepam for a fear of flying would be taking a significant legal risk as this goes against national guidelines.



We appreciate patients may have a genuine fear of flying. Several of the big UK-based airlines provide ‘Fear of Flying’ courses which are recommended.




Easy Jet www.fearlessflyer.easyjet.com


British Airways www.flyingwithconfidence.com


Virgin www.flyingwithoutfear.co.uk



Other useful resources






Flight anxiety does not come under the remit of General and Personal Medical Services as defined in the GP contract and so we are not obliged to prescribe for this.

Patients who still wish to take benzodiazepines for flight anxiety are advised to consult with a private GP or travel clinic.



Thank you for your understanding in this matter.



Burney Street Practice Partners