Booking Your Flight

When booking your flight there are a number of steps you can take to ensure your journey is as smooth and safe as possible, including:

Research

Research the different airlines’ allergy policies–are there allergy-free meals available?

Timing

Pick your time of travel. Aeroplanes are usually cleaned overnight, lowering the chance of contaminated surfaces. If you have an allergy to nuts, flying first thing in the morning is probably a good idea. But if you have an egg or milk allergy, a flight outside of breakfast hours may be a more suitable option.

Care

A child with an allergy should never travel unaccompanied by an adult who can assume their care.

Advice

If you are worried, discuss your proposed flight with your GP or specialist.

Flights Booked

Once your flight is booked, take responsibility for your own safety and ensure that you communicate your needs:
  • right_arrow_orange_icon Organise travel insurance. Declaring you or your child’s allergy to the travel insurance provider is important, as failure to do so can mean your claim is rejected, and you’ll have to cover the cost of any medical treatment yourself. If you have further questions about travel insurance, see your travel insurer’s website and/or contact them via email or phone.
  • right_arrow_orange_icon 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.
  • right_arrow_orange_icon Speak to the airline customer service desk in advance about their policy for food allergic passengers. Make sure you fully understand what you need to travel and what they expect of you (e.g. your own medication, a doctor’s letter etc.).
  • right_arrow_orange_icon Explain to the airline the potential problems which may occur. Do this calmly without making aggressive demands.
  • right_arrow_orange_icon If you are successful in securing special arrangements, ensure these are in place for all connecting and return flights. Try to obtain any verification in writing andtake copies of airline letters with you when you fly.
  • right_arrow_orange_icon Ask that your information can be forwarded to the flight crew.

Your Travel Checklist

  • Medication

    Check expiry dates on your or your child’s adrenaline auto-injectors and any other medication before you travel. Give yourself plenty of time to get a new prescription if your medication is due to become out of date while you’re away.

  • Training

    If you have been prescribed adrenaline auto-injectors, practise regularly with a trainer device so you are confident in how to use it. Train family and friends how to use it as well:
    – Order Emerade trainer device at www.emerade-bausch.co.uk
    – Order EpiPen trainer device at www.epipen.co.uk
    – Order Jext trainer device at www.jext.co.uk

  • Preparation

    Carry at least two adrenaline auto-injectors when travelling. Depending on the location of your travels, you may require more than two devices, especially if you’re going somewhere quite remote.

  • Documentation

    You may be asked for documentation to travel on a plane with your adrenaline auto-injectors. The three adrenaline auto-injector manufacturers have Travel Certificates available on their websites at
    www.emerade-bausch.co.uk
    www.epipen.co.uk
    www.jext.co.uk

  • Allergy action plan

    Complete and take an allergy action plan with you, in case of emergency.

    Make sure your child’s allergy action plan is up-to-date, and take it with you. This needs to be completed by the child’s health care professional.

    You can download BSACI action plans from www.bsaci.org

  • Labelling laws

    Check the food labelling laws in the country you’re visiting. Labelling laws will vary around the world. Labelling laws across the EU are consistent. Australia, New Zealand and the USA have their own food labelling regulations. You can find out more information on international food allergen labelling regulations here.

  • Emergency contacts

    Find out where the nearest hospital is and how to contact the emergency services in the country you are visiting.

  • Medical ID

    Fill in your medical ID on your mobile phone, which can usually be found on the lock screen on the emergency call screen. You can tap in a contact number and the details of your allergies, reactions and medication.If you are travelling abroad, you could write this information in the local language (as well as in English).

  • Translation cards

    Organise translation cards in the language/s for the country/countries you are visiting. Write down a list of translations of what you are allergic to and how to ask anyone about it.

Before Leaving Home

  • Check you have all your prescribed medication. Carry this in your hand luggage, not your suitcase.
  • Wear medical identification (e.g. a medical alert bracelet or necklace) indicating your allergies.
  • Ideally pack your own food for the flight, instead of eating airline food. However, do check to see if there are any restrictions as to which types of food you are allowed to bring through airport security.
  • Leave early for the airport to allow yourself plenty of time to reconfirm any requests for specific seating, early boarding etc.

On the Flight

  • Keep your adrenaline auto-injectors on you; do not put them in your packed luggage or store in the overhead locker. Let others you are travelling with know about your allergies and where your adrenaline auto-injectors are. If travelling alone, inform the flight attendants.
  • Use wet wipes to wipe down the seat and tray table to help prevent contact reactions or inadvertent skin contact with food particles or spills. Eating food from a contaminated surface area could lead to accidental ingestion of allergens.
  • Avoid using the airline’s pillows and blankets, as they are often not washed between flights, only rewrapped.
  • Never take any unnecessary risks, especially when in the air away from access to medical help.
  • If you have an allergic reaction, use your adrenaline auto-injectors as soon as symptoms start, and inform the flight crew immediately. Also ask if there is a doctor (or medical professional) on board to assist you. If possible, go to an area of the plane to lie down, but avoid unnecessary physical activity.
eating abroad
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When Abroad

Eating out should be a fun and enjoyable part of your time away before heading out. It would be a good idea to check the following details with those you are with.

Make sure they are aware of yours or your child’s allergy (or allergies) and that you are carrying adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs). If the risks are high on a particular occasion, it may be best not to eat anything or it may be best to ask your accommodation manager if they can prepare a packed lunch free from your allergens.

If a reaction does occur, follow emergency instructions and use your adrenaline first.

Top Food Tips for Travel

  • right_arrow_orange_icon Don’t assume safe foods sold in another country are free from your allergens. Always check ingredients.
  • right_arrow_orange_icon If possible, check the restaurant's website as some will include information for customers with allergies. You may be able to see the menu and call the restaurant in advance to check if the dish you'd like to order is safe.
  • right_arrow_orange_icon Be cautious of any dishes with sauces or dressings, unless you’re certain of what they contain.
  • right_arrow_orange_icon Whether you are purchasing food from a supermarket, a restaurant or elsewhere, check the ingredients.
  • right_arrow_orange_icon Allergens can appear in alcoholic drinks, so check with bar staff before you order. Also, be aware that factors such as alcohol can raise the risk of a serious reaction.
  • right_arrow_orange_icon Make sure the person preparing the food knows about your allergies.
  • right_arrow_orange_icon Take some safe, non-perishable snacks with you, just in case.
  • right_arrow_orange_icon Unless you are served first avoid buffet/self-serve style restaurants as there’s likely to be a high risk of cross-contamination. Sometimes staff may take your food off the buffet before other people serve themselves.
  • right_arrow_orange_icon Ask the server to make a note of your allergies. Ask about the dishes that you’d like to choose and if they’d be suitable. Ask about ingredients, how the food is prepared and whether cross contamination with your allergens is likely. Speak clearly, factually, politely and calmly.
  • right_arrow_orange_icon When your food arrives, check that it is what you have ordered and check again with the server that it doesn’t contain your allergen(s).
pack medication discreetly
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Your Medication

Make sure you have your medication on you at all times. If you have been prescribed adrenaline auto-injectors, always carry two.

When you have arrived at your destination there are various ways that you can carry your adrenaline auto-injectors discreetly. However, make sure you let whoever you are travelling with know where they are and how to use them if a reaction occurs. Make sure those you are travelling with are aware of the symptoms of anaphylaxis.

Please see our anaphylaxis factsheet for more information.

Storing Your Adrenaline Auto-Injector

Do not leave adrenaline pens in direct sunlight. Excessive heat or light can cause the adrenaline to turn brown.

Do not expose your adrenaline auto-injectors to cold temperatures. For EpiPen devices, there is additional instruction to not refrigerate the device.

Bags are available to maintain medication at the correct temperature. Please refer to the patient information leaflet accompanying your device.

Never leave your AAIs in a cloakroom, on a coach or other place where bags etc are stored as you need immediate access to your medicine at all times.

family travel safely
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Airline Allergy Policies

All airlines have different policies in place for keeping passengers with an allergy safe. It is important before travelling to familiarise yourself with the airline’s policy. If in doubt, contact the airline. Below is a list of some of the main airline providers and links to their policy information. If you would like to discuss anything before you travel, please contact our helpline team.

Airline Information

Aer Lingus

Air Canada

Air France

Air New Zealand

Alaska Airlines

American Airlines

ANA/All Nippon Airways

Asiana Airlines

British Airways

Cathay Pacific

Etihad Airways

Hawaiian Airlines

Japan Airlines

Malaysia Airlines

Qatar Airways

Singapore Airline

South African Airlines

Southwest Airlines

Thai Airways

Turkish Airlines

United Airlines

Virgin Blue