Which Peanut Allergy-Friendly Airlines Are There?
Traveling by plane is getting more and more affordable and comfortable these days. Airline travel is also much safer today than it used to be. However, if you have a peanut or tree nut allergy, you may have a really hard time on board.
The reason is that many airline companies still serve peanuts, tree nuts and other foods containing these allergens on board, which puts allergic travelers at a high risk of an allergic reaction.
A study published in 2013 suggests that more than 10 percent of passengers develop an allergic reaction during an airline flight. The results are based on an international online survey that was completed by 3,200 passengers.
Experts say that while the risk of exposure to an allergen during a flight is low, a severe allergic reaction on board may lead to tragic consequences.
The study authors recommend that passengers with food allergies take certain precautions to reduce the risk of developing an allergic reaction when flying. If you take measures, there is no need to worry.
Thus, you can request some type of allergy-related accommodation and make sure the meal you are served on board is allergen-free.
Clean your tray table with a sanitizing wipe before eating or even touching it. You may also want to refrain from using airline pillows and blankets and eating airline food.
If you have a severe allergy, you may ask that other passengers around you not eat or open food products containing peanuts or tree nuts.
Following these guidelines can help to alleviate your frustration and anxiety, if you are flying with allergies. Just ensure planning your commercial flight in advance.
According to the same study, epinephrine was given to only 13 percent of airplane passengers who experienced an allergic reaction. An injection of epinephrine, or adrenaline, is an effective and commonly recommended treatment of a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis.
The study showed that although 98 percent of approached passengers had their own epinephrine auto-injector (or any other source of epinephrine) with them, the medication was significantly underused in the emergency cases.
In about 50 percent of cases, flight crews were not trained to treat allergic reactions. However, those passengers who notified an airplane about their allergies were more likely to receive epinephrine, in case of an emergency.
The study concluded that many airlines may need to consider their policies concerning the management of allergies on a flight. Providing flight crew members with proper training may help to improve the situation.
Are There Allergy-Friendly Airlines?
There are a number of national and international airlines that have established allergy related policies. Below, here are six major airlines that are considered allergy-friendly.
At the moment, Canada is the only country with an established formal policy requiring a three-row buffer zone around a peanut or tree-nut-allergic passenger. Passengers with allergies can contact the Medical Assistance Desk of Air Canada in order to request a buffer. This should be done at least 48 hours before the actual flight. The flight crew will tell other passengers seating in the buffer zone not to eat peanut or tree nuts during the flight.
More than two years ago, in February 2016, British Airways included inflight allergy announcements into their official on-board policy for the first time in history of major airlines. The company also asks passengers sitting near allergic passengers to refrain from consuming peanut-based products during the flight. According to experts, this has made life easier for allergic international travelers and also set new standards for the industry in general.
British Airways also added epinephrine auto-injectors to their in-flight medical kits, and it doesn’t serve peanuts on their flights.
Travelers flying with Delta should notify the airline about any allergies they have at least 48 hours prior to the flight. For those who are booking the flight online, there is the “special services” section, where you can list out your allergies. If there is a passenger with peanut allergy on board, the company will refrain from serving peanut-containing foods and offer alternative snacks instead. In case of a severe allergy, a passenger may want to pre-board and clean the tray table, seat and arm rest. To do so, he or she should notify the gate agents in advance.
Creating a three-row buffer zone around an allergic passenger is not included into Delta’s official policy, but a flight crew may offer this option, if needed.
JetBlue is probably one of the best airlines for people with food allergies due to the policies in accommodating allergic passengers and their families. When you are booking your flight online, the system asks you a number of questions concerning food allergies. Therefore, you don’t need to call to a reservation agent to notify about your condition.
JetBlue doesn’t serve peanuts on their flights, and they do offer a pre-boarding option. The crew member can also create a buffer zone around a passenger with food allergies, without identifying this passenger. The airline also has epinephrine auto-injectors in their inflight medical kits.
Southwest Airlines does offer peanuts on board. However, the company’s policy also includes certain food allergy management strategies. When a person books a reservation, he or she can notify the airline about their peanut dust allergy checking the corresponding box under the “Assistance with Disabilities” section.
Southwest also recommends that you get the gate at least one hour prior to the boarding time. At the gate desk, you will fill out a form about your allergy, and the copy will be sent to the flight crew. Once they receive your message, the flight attendants will replace the peanut-containing snacks with peanut-free alternative. Usually, they serve cheese crackers instead of peanuts, which means you have to be cautious, if you have a milk allergy.
You can also ask the gate agent whether you can pre-board to clean your area. However, the decision is made by the agents, which means they may say “no”. To avoid that, the airline recommends booking the first flight of the day and the plane will as clean as possible.
Southwest also lets you choose the seats, therefore, you can choose the comfortable seat and create your own buffer zone, if you are flying with an allergic child
Inflight announcements concerning peanut and tree nut allergies are a part of Virgin America’s official policy. If there is a peanut or nut allergic passenger on a flight, the flight crew can ask that other passenger refrain from eating or opening foods products with nuts.
The company often tries to manage the situation in the best possible way, which is why they can also offer pre-boarding or buffer zone options, even if these are not included into their policy.