Some people think that flying is relaxing. You just walk onboard a plane, sit down by the window and enjoy the view as you magically get transported to your destination. Maybe you’ll eat a pack of peanuts as a snack, too. The best part: you don’t have to think about a thing, other than how excited you are to get to your destination.
But for people with food allergies? It’s pretty much a nightmare.
Don’t worry though! I have been flying on planes with food allergies for almost all of my life, so today, I’m going to share my tips with you on how to safely fly with food allergies. And with these tips, you can be the person described above!
1. Research your airline beforehand
In the past few years, airlines have gotten a lot better about dealing with food allergies. Some airlines even provide snacks from allergy-friendly brands, like 88 Acres snacks on JetBlue. But, of course, some airlines are better than others based on how severe your food allergies are and what food allergies you have.
You can read my review of Delta airlines here. I also recommend checking airline reviews on the Spokin app.
2. Call the airline
Once you find an airline that you feel like is a good fit for you, I recommend calling them prior to boarding. Tell them what your food allergies are to ensure that they can do whatever their food allergy procedures are to keep you safe while flying. To make sure that they have enough time to do these food allergy preparations, I recommend calling them at least a couple of days prior to boarding.
While you should always carry two EpiPens, Benadryl, and any other food allergy medications everywhere, it might be a good idea to ask the airline if the airplanes have EpiPens and/or Benadryl on them. This can ease your nerves about flying if you know that they have EpiPens and other food allergy medications in case an allergic reaction occurs.
3. Packing tips
Make sure to pack, pack, pack! Pack your EpiPens, other food allergy medications, and any OIT treatments. Also, make sure to pack a lot of snacks and non-perishable food, especially if you’re traveling somewhere where allergy-friendly food is harder to find.
4. Before boarding
Before boarding, talk to the person at your gate to ensure that they know that you have food allergies so they can do any food allergy preparations to keep you safe. Also, ask if you can board with the disabilities section so you can wipe down your seat, window, TV screen, and any other places you need to wipe down. Since food allergies are a legal disability, they should allow you to board with the disabilities section.
5. Fly like during the Coronavirus pandemic
This might sound a little weird but think about it. A lot of the sanitary precautions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic are things that food-allergic people were already doing long before the pandemic started, such as constantly washing our hands, never going anywhere without hand sanitizer, or hand wipes, etc.
One thing that I do to ease my anxiety while flying is wearing a mask. If you have a severe or airborne allergy, this might help you feel more comfortable about flying, too. I also like wearing a mask on planes because it takes away a little bit of the smell of peanut and tree nut snacks around me.
6. Don’t feel guilty
Do you know what the number one thing that people with food allergies do? Neither do I, but something that I feel like is pretty high on the list is feeling guilty—feeling guilty for asking the person next to you to not eat peanuts, feeling guilty about getting to board early, etc. But we really don’t need to feel guilty because there is nothing to feel guilty about. You never asked to have food allergies. So, therefore, why should you feel guilty about having to protect yourself against something that is out of your control?
I think we’ve all also been in the situation where someone is eating, for example, a bag of cashews next to you when you’re allergic to them. No need to worry, and no need to feel guilty! If you just politely ask, I’m sure they’ll be really understanding. If they’re not understanding and continue to eat them anyway, I recommend asking a flight attendant if you can switch seats. It might seem like something a “Karen” would do, but your life is more important than what other people think of you.
I hope you’ve learned some tips on how to fly with food allergies without feeling stressed and anxious. If you found this article helpful, make sure to share it with a friend and comment on our Instagram (@justallergythings) some of your tips for flying with food allergies. Happy flying!