Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Peanut Allergies and Air Planes – What to do if you have to catch a flight?

We have a ton of patients that come in with peanut allergies, which is a very serious food allergy.

One of the main questions we get asked is, “What do I do if I have to take a flight and I am allergic to peanuts.” We will answer this question below, but this same idea goes for any food allergies. 

We like to give our patients strategies on how to tackle tricky food situations that come about because you are in a public setting. For example, if you have a severe peanut allergy what are you supposed to do if you travel on an airplane where peanuts are the most common, and expected free snack?

Here’s what we do in this case. Talk to the airline before your flight to give them a “heads up” about your allergy and see what options they offer you. Then, when you get to the airport and check in for your flight, go and talk to the gate agent who is in charge of the flight. Let them know about your severe allergy to peanuts and ask them if they can refrain from serving peanuts on the flight to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

More often then not, the airline will oblige. But we recommend asking the flight attendants who are working the flight if they have been informed of the decision. It’s important to make sure that the message gets communicated to everyone who is working the flight, not just those who do the boarding. Airlines are very receptive to peanut allergies and the danger of having peanuts on a flight if someone has a peanut allergy.

We’ve actually seen this happen before on Delta Airlines. There was someone who had a peanut allergy and they told the gate agents and the decision was made to not serve peanuts on the flight.

To ensure that there were no mishaps and to set customer expectations, the gate agents will usually make a brief announcement before the flight begins to board letting everyone know that they will not be serving peanuts on this flight. Good Job Delta!

The big take away here is that everyone knows how serious peanut allergies are, but in social situations, people can’t help prevent them if they don’t know that someone around them has the allergy. Thus say something! This could save your life or prevent someone else from having a serious allergic reaction.

According one of Hudson Allergy’s founders, Doctor Tim Mainardi “ As modern medicine advances, more people are becoming aware of their food allergies, including peanut allergies. As a society we need to be cognizant of the affects that peanuts can have on some of our fellow citizens and adjustments need to be made for the overall health and well being for all. Sometimes this means that peanuts aren’t available on a flight or at a ball game, but that can be a small price to pay considering the grave harm that peanuts can cause to some individuals.”  

If you have any other questions about peanut allergies or what other tips we’d recommend on navigating your way though social situations, give us a call. We are happy to help and provide you with a personal action plan on how to prevent allergies that are specific to you. Call us at 212-729-1283 or email us at info@hudsonallergy.com.