Flying with Food Allergies
If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from food allergies and travel by airplane, you know how downright terrifying flying with food allergies can be. You are enclosed in a cabin for hours while potentially being exposed to your allergens. You have to rely on the employees of the airline as well as your fellow passengers to keep you safe. Scary to say the least! But like everything else with food allergies, we will not let this hold us back from traveling (except perhaps for extreme cases) and therefore need to learn how to fly as safely as possible. How do we do this?
Give the Arlines as much information as possible. Right from the start, when you are booking your ticket, make sure you not on your reservation that you will be flying with food allergies and what your food allergens are. You can also request what accommodations you would like, but you will have to repeat this once you get to the gate, as the people reading your information on the website will not be the crew on your flight.
Bring your own food. You do not want to try food from the airline when you are 10,000 feet up in the air. Always bring your own food and bring enough in case there are delays. You can also speak to the airline prior to your day of travel, and they will oftentimes let you bring an extra carry-on bag to fit all of the food that you would like to bring with you.
Bring your auto-injector. This goes without saying. You should have multiple sets of auto-injectors with you at all times, and at perhaps no time is this as important as when you fly. It is also a good idea, especially if flying internationally, to have a doctor's note stating that you are allowed to travel with this medication. You should also have your Allergy Action Plan, an antihistamine, and any other medication you might need during a reaction.
At the gate: ask the gate crew if you can pre-board. This will allow you to be one of the first to board the plane, wipe down your seat (bring your own wipes), and try to make sure there is no food and residue left over from the last flight.
On the plane: when you are boarding the plane or once you are in your seat, ask to speak to one of the flight attendants. Explain your allergens and ask for them to make an announcement asking passengers near you to refrain from eating your allergens on the flight. It's often a good idea to bring extra snacks that you can give some passengers to replace snacks that include your allergen and that they were planning to eat. You can also ask the flight attendant to not serve your allergen on the flight, a request that they may or may not comply with.
If traveling internationally, it is also a good idea to bring translation cards which list your allergens and talk about cross-contamination.
Now that you are hopefully well-prepared to fly, make you're you have fun and have a great trip!