Having life threatening allergies is a very scary thing. But you can't live your life in a bubble. With many on Spring Break or about to start, if you have the urge to see the world, travel across the US or even across the pond… Here are some tips to ensure a safe, allergy-reaction free plane ride.
I have two boys with life threatening allergies. When they were first diagnosed, we spent much of our time in and out of hospitals as we slowly learned to navigate and educate ourselves about their condition. It's a very scary thing when simply going somewhere new can possibly cost your child his life. Allergy inducing things were every where! For the longest time traveling simply wasn't an option. There was too many uncontrollable variables. Once we got our new routine down, it was time to venture on a vacation, one-step at a time. First things first, getting to our destination safely without any allergic reactions. Let's TALK.
Preparation for the Big Day
Visit your airline's website and read their allergy policy and what their snack offerings are. People with severe inhalation allergies may want to choose an airline that does not serve complimentary peanut/tree nut snacks. One of our favorite airlines to fly is JetBlue. They serve Nut-Free Skeeter cookies and many Marcus-safe snacks which doesn't make him feel like he's being singled out. Here is a select list of airlines and their nut policies: https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/nuts-airlines-policies
- If booking your flight through a travel agent, let them know of the food allergy and request that they notify the airline, gate agents, flight crew, etc., If booking through a travel website or direct, leave a message in the comment section and follow up with a phone call after confirming your reservation online, to avoid any surcharges.
- Reiterate at every opportunity with the ticket agent, the flight attendants, etc.,
- It doesn't hurt to ask if you can pre-board the plane in order to check your seat for any food particles and clean if necessary.
Ready to Fly?
- Have your allergy action plan printed
- Make sure your allergy action plan and two (2) epi-pens are with you at all times. WITH YOU, NOT in the overhead bins, not in your carry-on, definitely NOT in your checked luggage.
- Bring your own snacks.
- Consider taking an anti-histamine prior to boarding if you have severe reactions and drink lots of water.
Things to Keep in Mind
- Many airplanes are thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day, consider choosing an early morning flight to minimize chances of food residues or exposure.
- Choose a DIRECT flight to minimize exposure.
- While airlines can accommodate and not serve their complimentary peanuts/tree nuts offerings, they cannot control food brought onto the plane by other passengers.
If you or your child experienced an allergic reaction while in-flight which could have been avoided or were a victim of discrimination because of food allergies, file a complaint with the Department of Transportation.