If you have food or airborne allergies, you are not alone. Yet, they need not keep you tethered at home. With proper planning and advance preparation, you can soon be off on your next adventure.
According to the Department of Transportation, it is extremely rare for a passenger to have an allergic reaction while in flight. Nevertheless, if you or someone you are traveling with has an allergy, it is important to be aware of federal regulations and the policies of your airline.
Nut allergies are among the most common allergies for both children and adults. Airlines have individual policies about serving peanuts and seating passengers with nut allergies, so it is best to check with your carrier on its policy.
Other common allergens include latex, pollen and pet dander or dietary restrictions, like gluten or dairy. Airflow in the passenger cabin and the use of high efficiency air filters (HEPA) can mitigate the effects of many airborne allergens. Airlines allow passengers to bring approved Portable Oxygen Concentrators on board and Epi pens for use in the unlikely event of an allergic reaction.
When planning for air travel, the following tips can help ensure a safe and pleasant flying experience.
- Consult your physician to determine whether it is safe for you to fly. As with other activities, it is always wise to consult with your doctor to ensure you are aware of any limitations associated with your allergy, have necessary medications with you when traveling, and establish a plan to be prepared for an allergic reaction.
- Research your airline’s policy on allergies. Each airline has different policies regarding allergies. Be sure to visit your airline’s website to review specific policies related to your allergy.
- Inform the airline of your allergy in advance. Be sure to inform your airline of any medical conditions well in advance of flying. Even if the airline does not have specific policies in place to address your needs, it is better that the airline is prepared should an allergic reaction occur.
- Request special meals. Passengers are encouraged to bring their own snacks on the aircraft to meet specific dietary needs or preferences, especially if traveling with children who have allergies. On many flights where meals or snacks are available, it is possible to request special accommodations for a dietary restriction, such as gluten- or dairy-free. These requests can typically be made at the time of booking or when checking in online 24 hours before your flight. Visit your airline’s website for further information about the various in-flight offerings.
- Pack any medications you may need while traveling. Do not pack medications in checked luggage. If your medication is injected using needles, TSA’s security policy suggests a professionally printed label identifying medication requiring the use of a needle or syringe. Bring an extra day’s worth of doses in case of a travel delay.
- On the day of your flight, arrive early and notify airline employees of any allergies. Allow ample time to clear security with the properly labeled medications in your carry-on luggage. Even if special arrangements were made in advance, passengers should still notify the gate agent and flight attendants of any allergies before flight. They can inform fellow passengers about the need to refrain from eating certain items, like nuts, and help mitigate any possible interaction with the source of your allergy, like being seated away from passengers traveling with pets or service animals.