Flying with a Peanut Allergy

Recalling our family’s experience flying from Minneapolis to Manila with a 5-month-old, and a 2-year-old who has a peanut allergy. It was the first flight ever for the baby and the first international trip for the toddler.

Before this big trip, we have heard about a recent incident of anaphylaxis involving a 4-year-old girl mid-flight. This means that the girl had an acute (potentially fatal) allergic reaction, to nuts. There was itching, and swelling and potential blocking of the airways. An epinephrine shot was needed, luckily a medical personnel is onboard. (I panicked at the thought of this happening!) And it was allegedly all because another passenger four rows from the family opened a bag of peanuts despite the crew’s warnings beforehand. We didn’t know until that news broke that an allergic reaction can be triggered by inhalation and the risks can be that high in a flight. Although this incident had eventually been clarified by allergy experts — refuting that the cause was not from the opened bag four rows away, but highly likely from settled (allergen) dusts on the cabin’s surfaces that were not completely wiped down.

Needless to say, there was a cloud of worry hovering over us during our trip. The husband indicated during the booking of the flight about our daughter’s serious allergy. But somehow, this was not successfully passed on to our flight’s crew. Thankfully, we were seated on the second row in our section. We found out that they were serving peanuts, in facts the passengers in front of us had already started with his own bag. When we informed the attendant, we were asked if our daughter had been found to have sensitivities to airborne allergen. We didn’t have a history and I’d rather not risk finding out mid-flight, I responded. We immediately saw a quick action from the crew. The peanuts were politely retrieved from the passengers. There was a public announcement to take extra caution for a passenger on board with a peanut allergy. Basically the same scenario happened in all our 4 flights. Somehow, whatever we indicated from our booking was not relayed to the crew. All went well in the end.

Our travels are never the same since our daughter’s serious reaction to peanuts.

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