Allergic passengers beware: Nuts on a plane

Preparing for air travel can be highly challenging for nut-allergic passengers, a Short Report published in the Medical Journal of Australia has found.

Over 90 million passengers are carried on Australian flights each year, with 1-2% reporting they have documented food allergies. Dr Mark Hew and colleagues from the Alfred Hospital conducted a survey of all domestic and international airlines that fly from Tullamarine to assess their nut allergy policies.

The researchers found that 61% of airlines had online or telephone hotline information about nut allergy policies. Only a minority of airlines were able to provide nut-free meals. “Nine airlines (27%) offered nut- free meals, two routinely and seven on request. For the other airlines, nut-allergic passengers would need to fast (only practical on short domestic routes) or bring their own food,” the authors wrote.

A third of the airlines could restrict the distribution of packaged nuts on flights if required.

Only one airline operating from Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport confirmed that emergency adrenaline was available on all flights.

For nut allergic individuals, the authors recommended that they contact their airline before travelling, develop an allergy plan with their doctor, carry their own emergency adrenaline, and consider bringing their own food. “Airlines should make their nut allergy policies more accessible and consider carrying emergency adrenaline on all flights,” the authors concluded.

Article: Airline policies for passengers with nut allergies flying from Melbourne Airport, Stephanie Stojanovic, Celia Mary Zubrinich, Robyn O’Hehir and Mark Hew, Medical Journal of Australia, doi: 10.5694/mja16.00384, published 20 September 2016


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