7 Tips for Flying Safely on Airplanes With a Food Allergy

About this time, I should’ve been on an airplane going to London. Unfortunately, because of Coronavirus, that’s no longer possible for me and many others who had plans for this summer.

Fortunately, what we can do is start planning our trips for when the COVID-19 pandemic finally dies down!

Back before Coronavirus, there were certain precautions I would take just because of my nut allergy. I would wipe down my seat, bring my own snacks, wear a mask — and receive stares from people who thought I was crazy.

Here is a silver lining of the pandemic for food allergic individuals; people will no longer think this is weird.

But sadly, even though most of the things on this list are what people are doing during COVID-19, there are a couple allergy-specific things that food allergic people should do when flying on airplanes. Through this list, I hope you find flying on airplanes more manageable with food allergies.

With that, let’s get into the list!

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This article is not supposed to be substituted for medical advice of any kind. I am not liable for any advice that you do or do not take, and I am also not liable for any kind of action that was taken from this article. To read more about why this is here and my other disclaimers, click here.*

Tips for Flying Safely on Airplanes With a Food Allergy

1. Research your airline beforehand

It is important to research airlines beforehand to find one that can best accommodate your allergies. Some airlines are better than others as far as acknowledging food allergies and practicing allergy safety. Other airlines don’t serve specific allergens (like peanuts and/or tree nuts), and some will create a buffer zone for your allergies. On the other side of the spectrum, some airlines are not good at handling food allergies at all. 

To find out what airline is best for you, I would recommend first looking at the airline’s website and looking at the reviews of the specific airline on the Spokin app (if you don’t know what the Spokin app is, it’s an app that is tailored to help individuals with food allergies. You can find reviews of restaurants, food products, airlines and other places, find helpful information for managing food allergies, and so many other things). Once you’ve found an airline that might be a good fit, call the airline. Which brings me to my second tip…

2. Call the airline

Call the airline you are flying with sometime prior to boarding. Do this to ensure that they know about your allergens. I would recommend calling at least a few days before boarding, so that they can do any preparations that they have before you board the plane. Also see what they do to keep food allergic individuals safe. This may include things like cleaning the plane, taking specific snacks off the plane, asking passengers to not eat any food that contains your allergen, letting you board early, etc.

While you should ALWAYS keep at least two Epi-pens (or Epi-pen alternatives) with you 24/7 along with Benadryl and other medications you may take for your allergies, it may be a good idea to ask if they keep any epinephrine or Benadryl (or any antihistamines) on the plane. This may help you to keep calm about your food allergies, knowing that they have extra epinephrine if something were to go wrong.

3. Pack, pack, pack!

Pack your OIT treatments. Pack your Epi-pen and medication. Pack your Clorox wipes, your hand sanitizer, your snacks, your allergic-reaction-plan-card, your face mask, your gloves; you get the point.

4. Security problems

Anyone with a food allergy knows that going through security can be a pain when you have to take out all your snacks and explain that the needle in your bag is a lifesaving device you have to have with you, and definitely not a weapon. I learned this tip when I was collaborating on an article with someone for FARE’s blog: leave a written note in your bag explaining your allergies. This is helpful for carrying your Epi-pen through security, for the times that they ask you to take all of the food out of your bag (been there before — was a slightly embarrassing moment when I had to take my millions of snacks out!), if you have any liquids or OIT treatments you have to have with you, etc.

5. Before boarding

Before boarding, go up to the front desk and make sure they know about your allergies and any precautions that they’re supposed to do. If they told you when you called them that they could remove the peanuts from the plane (or any other precaution they usually take), make sure they know to remove the peanuts from the plane.

Another thing that I do when I fly is ask if I can board early. Because food allergies are a legal disability (ugh, yes, I hate that word too), you should always be eligible for early boarding in the disability class. This gives you more time to do things like wipe down everything.

6. Act like you’re flying during Coronavirus times

Caption might be a little weird, but in all honesty, act like you’re flying during the Coronavirus pandemic. Wipe down EVERYTHING, wear a mask, don’t touch your face, and wear gloves if you would like to. Just act like you’re flying during the pandemic; it will keep you a lot safer with your food allergies!

7. Don’t feel guilty

We all know that feeling of guilt when we ask the person next to us to not eat that Reese’s peanut butter cup right now. I always felt this way, but then I found this quote on Instagram. I kinda forgot the exact quote, and I’m not sure who wrote it, but the message is the same. It said that someone can go 7 hours without something that you’ve been avoiding your whole life.

I hope this article helped you in preparing for your first trip outside of quarantine with food allergies.

Do you have any tips I missed? Comment down below what you do when flying with a food allergy.

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