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Food Allergies and Airlines

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For many people with food allergies, the one place they can count on total control is their own home, but what does one do if they need to travel?

Flying is a convenience of modern times, but a crypt for those with food allergies. The lack of airflow, space to move, and assured cleanliness is just the beginning of dangers lurking in a passenger plane.

Southwest Airlines still serves peanuts, but will advise the boarding agents of (that) flight to suspend the sale of peanuts. Southwest also encourages all passengers with food allergies to book a flight early in the morning due to cleaning schedules. Their mission is discussed here.

Delta and Northwest Airlines have not eliminated peanut products, but do offer a buffer zone. The zone requires the passengers of three rows in front and three rows behind to not have any peanut products or be served peanut products during the flight. Additional cleaning can be provided as well. Details are listed here.

American Airlines serves no peanut products in flight, but may serve products with other nut ingredients. Options of peanut-free meals are offered, along with provisions for other allergy-friendly options. The list of these meals and the peanut-allergy warning is found here.

The airlines listed are merely a snapshot of assistance given to allergy sufferers while in flight. Although no airline has prohibited passengers from bring certain foods on flight, they’ve made significant measures to assure the safety of passengers. Complaints in reference to any needs not met as promised by an airline can be found through the Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

Add a Comment6 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

It really can be tough when we are away from home with food allergies! Our little boy has dealt with this and severe Eczema since he was a baby. Fortunately though, he has been helped so much by taking his daily probiotic from Vidazorb and it has made such an impact that he can now eat lots more foods. It is still a worry of course for some of the major allergens for him which we avoid. He has never been on a plane yet but we are always careful at restaurants and we carry his probiotics with us on vacation since they do not need refrigerated - plus we have his Epipen! Thanks for raising awareness about air travel!

February 17, 2010 - 3:21pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Whew- Epipen! You'd be surprised at the amount of people I've met who have severe food allergies and still manage to misplace or forget their Epipens! You're an example of the kind of parenting necessary for children with food allergies.

February 17, 2010 - 4:44pm
EmpowHER Guest

I have multiple food allergies including wheat, gluten, peanuts and nuts. When I last flew Delta they did not provide me with either a gluten-free meal or a buffer zone from peanuts. I was disappointed in their lack of concern about my allergies. That is the reason that I do not fly Delta.

February 16, 2010 - 4:21pm
(reply to Anonymous)

My siblings are what spurred this interest- and they have all your allergies as well as dairy, eggs, and some fruits.... It's a scary thing! It's good to hear proactivity versus complaints.

February 17, 2010 - 4:42pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Thanks, this is very helpful information. When you are dealing with food allergies it can be very frustrating trying to get the support you need. A friend who was hospitalized for an unrelated condition could not get the hospital to understand her situation and provide an appropriate meal. Of all types of businesses, you would think a hospital would be the most accomodating, but unfortunately this one wasn't and they left her hungry many days which did not help the healing process. I'm going to send a copy of your article to her, and thank you on her behalf. Take care, Pat

February 15, 2010 - 5:30pm
(reply to Pat Elliott)

Wow!!!!! I cannot believe that- I hope she reported her experience!

February 17, 2010 - 4:41pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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