For people with food allergies, airline meals pose a particular risk. Many airlines will organise a special meal according to individual requirements, but mistakes can sometimes occur. Even when an airline has promised a special meal, it’s important to make sure the information has been passed on down the line. Enquire while checking in and when boarding the plane. If you want to play safe, the best advice is to take your own food.
Some general tips:
- Take responsibility for your own safety. Ensure that you communicate your needs to all relevant parties (e.g. travel agent and airline staff). Try to obtain any verification in writing. Communicate directly with the airline’s customer services/in-flight services.
- Ensure that the airline you are dealing with is the one actually operating the flight. Some are franchised out to different airlines which may not have the same policy or not be advised of special arrangements.
- When you outline your needs, explain the potential problems which may occur. Do this calmly without making aggressive demands. Avoid using the phrase ‘nut free flight’. Airlines have no control over passengers bringing their own packets of nuts on board.
- If you are worried, discuss your proposed flight with your GP or specialist. Some airlines may request written medical evidence of the allergy.
- If you are successful in securing special arrangements ensure these are in place for all connecting and return flights. Take copies of airline letters with you.
- When checking in, make sure the arrangements that have been promised are in fact in place.
- Don’t forget your prescribed medication (e.g. adrenaline injector).Take a letter from your doctor explaining that your medication is needed with you on the flight.
- Take wet wipes to clean surfaces such as the fold-down tray.