December 26, 2001
Tips for Safe Airline Travel With
- The diagnosis of food allergy can be devastating to an adult or child.
From mild irritations that involve hives or vomiting, to severe reactions
that involve loss of consciousness or even death, food allergies, which
affect 6 to 7 million Americans, can create a major change in day-to-day
activities. Traveling safely by plane with a food allergy can be
particularly challenging, but not impossible.
The following tips from the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network will help
travelers with food allergy fly more safely during this holiday season:
Prior to and While Booking Your Flight
FAAN recommends that if you need to carry an EpiPen(R) auto-injector you
request a letter from your doctor explaining the situation (a sample letter
can be viewed online at http://foodallergy.org//epiletter.html ). Carry the
letter, as well as the prescription label from the pharmacy if you have it,
whenever you fly.
Book your flight as far in advance as possible and let the airline know of
your allergy. If you have a peanut allergy, ask the airline to serve non-
peanut snacks on your flight. Many reservations agents may not know the
airline can do this. You may want to ask to speak to the supervisor.
If the airline denies your request, ask for a peanut buffer zone. Keep in
mind that airlines can't control what other passengers may bring onboard
If a meal will be served on your flight, you will be much safer bringing
your own meal onboard with you. Be sure to pack extra food for the trip. You
will be far better off taking too much than not having safe food to eat.
On the Plane
After you board the plane, ask to speak to the head flight attendant.
Explain your situation. If you've requested a peanut-free flight, ask them
to reconfirm that peanut snacks will not be served.
If you have a small child, be sure to wipe down the seats, arm rests, tray
table, and window area with a handy-wipe or similar product. Also, inspect
the floor and seat area and remove any food residue from previous flights.
If a Reaction Does Occur
If you have a reaction, administer medication per your physician's
instructions and immediately let the flight crew know. They will need time
to get ground clearance and approval to land, if necessary. Have the flight
crew ask if there is a physician on the plane.
The most important thing to remember is to remain calm. Don't let your
emotions overrule your logic.