I am a morning person, but my food allergic daughter is far from it. As much as I dread dragging our family through an airport at 6 a.m., some consider this a better option when requesting allergy accommodations. Booking direct flights each way at 6 a.m. is sometimes tough in cost and logistics. However, avoiding the stress logistics of dealing with different flights, crews and fellow passengers on a connecting flight may be worth the cost. Also keep in mind there is no federal policy to guide airlines on allergy accommodations and every airline allergy policy differs.
Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when traveling and managing allergies:
There is a greater chance of a cleaner plane first thing in the morning. Most aircrafts are cleaned at the end of the day. The possibility of peanut dust or other remnants of allergens from earlier flights may be less. However, be sure to request to pre-board and still clean your seats, trays and other areas with Clorox wipes.
When the flight announces no nuts will be served, there may be less sounds of “sighs” on board at 6 am. Yes, I was surprised when this happened on one of our flights when my daughter was younger. Also, when you personally ask passengers around you to forego snacks that contain peanuts and tree nuts at 6 am, they may be more willing and if they had morning coffee.
These requests help prevent allergy exposure, causing a potential life-threatening reaction, known as anaphylaxis, which requires emergency administration of epinephrine (epi-pen). And only you can help save an allergic child or yourself if you have allergies. Airline policies vary on whether flight attendants and crews are trained to handle allergic reactions or able to administer epinephrine without a doctor on the plane. Depending on the airline and flight crew judgment, a medical emergency landing may be be permitted. So, despite the two epi-pens you will carry on hand close to you during the flight, it seems to me having others skip the peanuts for a few hours is a better option for everyone.
Since policies clearly differ for every airline, as a starting point when booking flights, check out Allergic Living’s travel chart of airline policies.
Bring the airline’s policy with you on board your flight. I’ve also found travel reminder tips and other advocacy resources helpful at NoNutTraveler. Keep up with knowing your rights and the advocacy efforts underway by national organizations, such as FARE (Food Allergy and Research Education). Through FARE, you can send a prepared letter to your legislators to support a bill requiring Airline Access to Emergency Epinephrine. Also follow recent allergy related litigation and other travel related information through organizations such as the Allergy Law Project.
Be it pet allergies, peanut allergies or other related conditions, always alert the airlines of the necessary accommodations for your disability. Fellow passengers and the flight crew can have empathy and respect in the friendly skies. But not always.
Don’t let recent news headlines of families getting “kicked off the plane” for their food allergies deter your travel dreams or determination to speak up for safe allergy travel.