Flying is stressful for many. Add in traveling with food or medical conditions, especially life-threatening ones, and flying can seem near impossible.
IT ISN’T. Here’s my advice.
Get Educated. Be Prepared. Be Pro-Active. Have a GREAT TIME!
- Go to the airline webpage and find out their policy in dealing with ‘special concerns’. This usually includes topics such as: special meals, dietary restrictions, medical issues and peanut allergies.
- CALL every airline, if you want, and decide which airline’s policy will work best for your needs.
- Read this great Airline Synopsis from Can I Eat Here – Flying with Food Allergies, posted April 6, 2013. You will see that NOT ONE airline mentioned can guarantee ‘PEANUT-FREE ‘ flights, citing a variety of reasons.
- Most airlines provide ‘GLUTEN-FREE’ or ‘GLUTEN-INTOLERANT’ meals on flights providing in-service meals. This doesn’t include flights where the flight time is too short to serve meals and ONLY snacks are served.
- Carry, Bookmark, Favorite the airline policy – Whatever airline you choose to fly on, DON’T be embarrassed to show it whenever necessary.
- Book your flight. Be confident knowing YOU KNOW the correct information. As much as we wish every employee knew their policies, we ALL know this isn’t ALWAYS possible.
Stop Reading the Media Hype about the DANGERS of FLYING with FOOD ALLERGIES. READ about the FACTS. Here are two good reads:
- Food Allergy Feast – Emergencies On Planes Are Rare
- New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) – Outcomes of Medical Emergencies on Airline Flights
- Bring a Doctor’s note, if needed. Lufthansa Air wants you or your doctor to call ahead if you have a severe life-threatening allergy to peanuts or other allergens and possibly carry emergency medication with you.
- Bring your own snacks. Yes, it would be nice if all airlines offered gluten-free food options. Milk-free, egg-free, peanut-free fliers feel the same way.
- Bring your own medicine (benadryl, epinephrine), blankets, traytable covers, wipes – whatever you need to make your environment feel more safe. Wear a mask if you’re worried about dust.
Be prepared to offer ‘kindly reminders’ to flight attendants if they don’t make announcements or follow airline protocol, ie, announcing peanut-free flights or zones. Remember, this may be their 5th flight of the day, taking care of hundreds of people. It could slip their mind.
- Managing a life-threatening allergy or medical condition? BE PRO-ACTIVE and remind the gate agents and flight attendants of your concerns. Don’t assume the information you shared with the reservationist made it to your record. Yes, it SHOULD have.. but MAYBE it didn’t.
- Share your policy copy, if employees don’t seem to be aware of them.
- Board Early – Explain your situation and ask if this is a possibility, especially with with peanut-allergies. Wipe down tray-tables and armrests. Use blanket to cover the seat.
- DON’T HESITATE to ask for a manager, if you’re having any difficulties.
Hopefully, knowing you have prepared yourself and your loved ones to have a wonderful journey. Throw in an extra loaf of your favorite Rudi’s Gluten-Free or Rudi’s Organic Bakery bread, some extra snacks and treats and you’ll be set to go for hours!
Daniella Knell, is the owner of Smart Allergy~Friendly Education. Her first job as a mom raising 2 healthy children with 6 of the top 8 allergens, anaphylaxis to nuts included, has driven her passion as an allergy awareness educator and consultant. Her second job as a flight attendant for 20+ years with a major airline, has allowed her children to enjoy the adventure of travel and flying since they were both 3 months of age. Through classes for children, adults and one-on-one consulting, her goal is arming and empowering others with resources available to help them navigate the twists and turns of their personal food allergy journey. Follow her at: www.smartallergyfriendlyeducation.com, Facebook, Linked In or Twitter