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Kraig W. Jacobson, M.D.

Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

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Flying with food allergies

Posted by on in Allergy
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Flying with food allergies can be a challenge, and one of the biggest concerns of our patients with peanut allergy is how to be safe in the confined space of an aircraft if peanuts are served.

Some airlines still serve peanuts – and if they don’t, there’s nothing stopping the person sitting next to you from opening a bag. The key is to be prepared and to do your best to avoid allergens. Here are some tips for taking to the sky with a food allergy:

  • Pack medications. You and your doctor can develop an emergency plan, just in case you have a severe reaction to a food allergen. Make sure your epinephrine auto-injector is not expired. And remember to pack it in a carry-on that’s easily accessible, along with any prescriptions or other medications you may use while traveling.
  • Check on security. Be sure to obtain and take along note from your doctor that allows you to carry your epinephrine and other medications onboard. You can contact The Transportation Security Administration regarding what you are allowed to carry on board.
  • Do your online homework. Find an airline that will work with you and your food allergies. On airline websites, look for a list of snacks and menu items so you can plan accordingly. When you are ready to book your flight, consider calling the airline and speaking directly to an agent to inform them of your food allergies.
  • Book an early flight. You may find morning flights more accommodating when it comes to your food allergy concerns. Additionally, planes are usually cleaned at night, so seats may be cleanest early in the morning.
  • Pack your food. Packing your own flight food for is the safest thing you can do if you have severe food allergies. Be sure to include extra food in case your flight is delayed. Packing enough for a full 24 hours is a good start, especially if you are traveling with children who have food allergies. Consider reviewing the TSA’s website before you travel so that you’re aware of what you can carry onto the plane.
  • Inform flight personnel. Consider notifying the checking agent, gate staff and flight attendants of your allergies. Also, if you are traveling alone wear a medical alert bracelet, consider notifying those sitting next to you or around you of your food allergies. Although travelers may prefer to fly an airline that does not serve nuts, remember that other passengers may bring their own snacks. Do not be afraid to ask to switch seats if the person sitting next to you is eating food for which you are allergic.

We encourage our patients to recheck airline policies on food allergies for the most up-to-date information before you fly. As of this posting, our research shows that airline policies regarding peanut snacks are as follows.

Airlines that do not serve peanuts as packaged snacks:

Airlines that do not guarantee a peanut-free zone:

We work with many patients who have food allergies, and we are always happy to help you make your travels safe and successful. If you have food allergies and plan to fly soon, be sure to schedule an appointment with us, so we can help you make your flight safe and enjoyable.

Tagged in: Food Planning Travel

An energetic problem solver, Dr. Kraig Jacobson has spent his career treating patients and teaching about the complexities of allergy, asthma and immunology. He has practiced medicine in Eugene since 1979. The bigger the challenge, the more he enjoys his work.