Nowadays it has become very common that as soon as the boarding process is finished for the flight, the announcement is made by the crew stating, “We have a passenger on board today with a severe nut allergy. This is why today; we are not selling any products with peanuts or nuts in them. We also ask the other passengers to not consume any such food items that contain nuts on board.”
While a few of the passengers might grumble about this sudden inconvenience as they are not allowed to eat the nutty sacks, at the same time this little arrangement and announcement made prior to flight makes it’s much easier for the people with nut allergies to travel without risk of aggravating their allergies.
The reason that this problem can only be reduced by this method is there are no concrete guidelines regarding the nut allergies of the passengers. Still, each of the airlines has its method of dealing with nut allergy cases. One such example is the EasyJet airlines that have announced that they will now be serving “Zero Nut Products” on their flights. They even reformulated the Baklava as it now does not have any nuts.
Still, all the airlines agree on one point and that is that they cannot make their flights a hundred percent Nut Free. They also have a consensus that they cannot prevent all the other passengers from eating their own peanuts during their flight.
What passengers with the nut allergy need to do?
With the problem told earlier, the only person who has to take the responsibility of the Nut Allergy problem is the passenger suffering from it. It is the responsibility of the passenger with a nut allergy to inform the airlines about their condition from the booing process to the time when they board the airplane. Few airlines offer this option during the booking stage. After that, the passenger must inform the gate agent that they have the severe nut allergy and afterward when the said passenger boards the plane, they also need to inform the cabin crew as well.
Few airlines such s the British Airways, Ryanair, Jet 2 and EasyJet take the initiative to announce the condition of a certain passenger with a nut allergy to all the other passengers on board. They also then suspend the sale of any peanuts or nuts onboard.
Checking the policies of airlines regarding nut allergy carefully
Well, few airlines are really accommodating for their special passengers with nut allergies, not all airlines are that much accommodating. As an example, last year, 2 siblings suffering from nut allergy were travelling on board a flight of Emirates. They were asked by the cabin crew to sit inside the plane’s lavatory to avoid any exposure to the cashews that were being served in the meals.
The official policy of Emirates airlines regarding nut allergy states, “Nut-free special meals are not available. Nuts are served on all Emirates flights, either as a meal ingredient or as an accompaniment to drinks. Therefore we recommend bringing your own meal on board if you have nut allergies. Other passengers may bring food on board containing nuts, and traces of nut residue oils could be passed on to other surfaces of the aircraft like seats, as well as via the air conditioning system. For your safety, if you have nut allergies we recommend discussing your travel plans with your doctor before flying with us.”
As for the policy of Jet2 about safety, it states as follows, “If you carry medication for nut allergies, such as an EpiPen, it is very important that if you bring this with you on board the aircraft. If we are made aware of an allergy and you are not carrying your required medication, you may be refused travel.”
As for other airlines such as Canada Airlines, they offer their passengers with nut allergies buffer zones for minimizing their exposure to the nuts in possession of other passengers. If a passenger with a nut allergy is travelling with a nut allergy-free passenger, their neighbor will be asked by the cabin crew to not eat the nut-based foods. Still, the airlines won’t be making any of the special announcements after the boarding process. For the passenger with a nut allergy, they need to inform the Canada Airlines at least 48 hours prior to their flight for in order to be placed in the buffer zone.
Can’t airlines simply ban nuts from the flights?
No, this cannot be done as it would be really unpractical for quite a few reasons. For example, the Virgin Atlantic airlines states that peanuts are not included in the meals knowingly but still it can never be guaranteed that these foods are made in the environment that is nut-free.
While some nut allergy affected passenger to worry about only the airborne allergens; they do not consider the other major means of contracting the allergens. For example, a passenger eats the nuts at the airport before boarding the aircraft but then leaves the nut residue on the aircraft during their flight.
CEO of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, Lynne Regent states, “in our opinion, most of these nut allergy reactions are caused due to skin contact. As per the study presented by the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the protein in peanuts does not become airborne quite easily and this reduces the risk of getting significant exposure. This is why the inhalation of the nut dust is less of a factor for aggravating nut allergy. We only recommend going visiting a doctor before the flight and also ask the airlines you are travelling with to not have the nuts on the plane.”
How a passenger can you minimize their risk of aggravating nut allergy?
As we said earlier the responsibility only falls on the passenger to minimize their risk of aggravating their nut allergies. A passenger can bring with them the antibacterial wet wipes for cleaning the armrest, tray table, seats and even the pack of the hand sanitizer. Some airlines are even accommodating in this regard by allowing the passenger to board the plane for cleaning their seats.
As per the advice of some airlines, a passenger suffering from nut allergies must bring with them their adrenaline/ epinephrine auto-injector in their hand luggage. In order to minimize the delay at the boarding gate, such passengers must bring with them a handwritten doctor’s note explaining the passenger’s condition too.