Airplane travel with PA AND Treenut Allergy - Peanut Allergy Information

Airplane travel with PA AND Treenut Allergy

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Our 3 1/2 and 2 year old sons have peanut, treenut (and possibly coconut) and shellfish allergies between the 2 of them.

I know certain airlines will accommodate a PA in terms of asking passengers to refrain from eating peanuts or making the flight peanut-free; however, it sort of seems that you are on your own with regard to treenut allergies.

I am very concerned about them touching airplane surfaces contaminated with peanut or treenut residue, even if the flight is peanut free.

The last thing I feel like doing is paying an extra $1000 to rent an RV for the week to drive to Florida, but I'd hate to have them miss out on ever going to Disney. Travel by car for 3 days is just not an option as my kids would be sick of their car seats within 3 hours.

But I can't imagine the nightmare it would be if both kids had reactions on the flight.

Has anyone dealt with PA AND treenut allergies and flown anywhere?

I read previous posts on the subject here but they looked like they pertained solely to PA and planes.

By TracyC on Nov 1, 2009

Sorry - I didn't see the "Airlines" topic underneath "Travel."

I'll read through those posts to see if my question above has been discussed.

Damn - I tried really hard not to be the idiot new guy and did it anyway!

By NicoleMc on Nov 1, 2009

Hi Tracy,

I too have a peanut/tree nut allergic son. Peanut tends to get all of the attention and I even find myself sometimes just saying peanut allergic out of habit.

We have had great success with a couple of airlines here in Canada that we tend to stick to. They always refrain from selling any type of packaged nuts on board including all Tree nuts on account of our son. If they make an announcement and fail to mention the tree nut part I view it as an oversight as Peanut is the one they are used to announcing for. I realize it's important that they cover both and I will always reiterate that he is also allergic to tree nuts if they only state peanut in the announcement.

Perhaps check with the airline to see if they will be accomodating for both.

Good luck with your travel plans...if you wish keep an eye on my website as I will be coming out with some new products that are geared towards flight travel. The products on there currently may be of interest to you aswell.


By Food Allergy Assistant on Nov 6, 2009

We've flown many times with our food allergic son. We often fly Southwest. They allow us to pre-board and wipe down the seating area with wipes we bring on-board. With advance notice, (I call, and then check in when we arrive at the airport) they provide a non-peanut snack for travelers and make an announcement alerting everyone to a peanut allergy on board, asking people to refrain from eating peanut snacks.

Just tell the airline what you need and avoid any airline who gives you the brush-off. Enjoy your trip!

By BestAllergySites on Nov 8, 2009

Tracy-totally not the idiot newbie!! We all post in the wrong area at times.

I will say that we flew Southwest and my son had a reaction so we avoid it at all costs now. It was not handled well for us even though we told them of his allergy before hand.

We have a trip coming up to Disney as well and are flying Air Tran which is.....nut free!!!

That doesn't mean people can't bring nuts on-but I was told they do not serve/sell any products containing nuts-not even granola. I won't know for sure until we fly.

I do however recommend the following:

1. Mention your allergy when buying tickets. 2. Mention your allergy when cking in and at the gate. 3. Pre board and wipe down the tray, arm rests, etc. put a blanket on the seat if you feel necessary. 4. Mention your allergy again to the flight crew and ask them to make an announcement if you feel necessary. 5. Try to book an early am flight-they are cleaner. 6. Do not let your children play on the floor between seats etc. 7. Be sure to have your epis and any other meds on hand. 8. Bring your own snacks. 9. Choose an airline that does not serve or sell peanuts.

Hope that helps! When are you going and where are you flying from?

We are going in Dec and flying out of Boston. I've attached a link here for a recent post I did on Disney.

By TracyC on Dec 30, 2009

Hi Ruth -

That's good to hear that Air Tran is nut-free. You mentioned you were flying in December - I'd love to hear your experience. We are in Boston too.

I had decided, after reading all the posts, not to fly any time soon. However, perhaps I may be encouraged to try it if there have been some positive experiences.

I'm not overly nervous in other areas, but flying scares the hell out of me. The airlines can't be trusted to use good judgment to refrain from keeping people hostage on the tarmac for 8 hours without a bathroom. I can't imagine trusting them with the nut issue.


By BestAllergySites on Jan 1, 2010


Thank you for your comments. Sorry for the delay in response. We returned recently and have been overwhelmed with the holidays.

Flying was great! Air Tran did serve pretzels (forget the brand or manufacturer) and they were not labeled with a warning label so we let my son have them. He had no reaction.

Our own personal philosophy is that if it does not contain his allergens and does not have a warning label present--we feel comfortable giving it to him. There are some exceptions to our rule/method. But for the most part it has worked for us.

We did bring wipes and completely wiped down his area. Window, tray, arm rests, etc. We also has our own row.

He's 6 now and a little bit more settled. His last reaction on southwest--he was so wiggly and was all over the place. That makes a difference.

I would say--if you can keep your kid off the floor you'll be okay. :) Just take precautions and have your meds on hand.

We were very happy with Air Tran.

Are you in Boston or out of the city? We live up north off of 495 in the Bolton/Stow area.

Let me know what you decide! We should all be able to take trips now and again!

By NicoleMc on Jan 7, 2010

Ruth, great to hear your experience with Air Transat was a success. We too have been very happy flying Air Transat in the past. They have been willing to do preboarding announcements which to me is important because once you are on the plane and people start taking our Peanut products, you are a bit behind the eight ball. And they usually can't make the on board announcement before they have everyone settled and are making the other announcements.

I find flying with my PA/TA son is very stressful. I worry just about the whole flight..though the closer we are to our destination the better I start to feel. I think the feeling that we can't get to a hospital right away is hard to wrap your head around. I take extra epi-pens and do the same as you by wiping down the seats etc. Your suggestion about taking early am flights was excellent too.

You mention that your son reacted on a Southwest flight. I shudder to think of that happening. How did you handle that? I always think about what we would do if we were already airborne and my son were to be having a reaction. I can't even imagine an airline not being completely cooperative with a person going through something like that. Very unfortunate.


By TracyC on Jan 10, 2010

NicoleMc -

Same here - I just wonder how fast, or even if they would, land the plane if my sons started reacting.

At what point would I demand they land? Vomiting? Pale? Quiet (which I found out from my youngest son's PA episode may very well be unresponsiveness due to a drop in blood pressure.)

Epi wears off in minutes. 2 Epi pens buys us 10 or maybe 15 minutes. What if we are over water and it takes 20 minutes to land? What if I have to spend 10 minutes convincing attendant that we need to land and then it takes another 20 or 30 to land?

I get nervous just thinking about this.

Nope, flying is out of the question for us, for now. Maybe in a few years.

It stinks, but 2 kids both with PA/TA and one of whom may be airborne, plus one with a shellfish allergy is just to difficult to manage on a plane. And it's funny, because I'm really kind of laid-back in dealing with our PA/TA in other areas.

Ruth - We are on the North Shore.

By NicoleMc on Jan 10, 2010

Hi TracyC,

Not sure if you have seen some of the media attention that has been given to the recent developments with Air Canada and some of the provisions they have been mandated to make in response to nut allergies. On the one hand, the fact that there are strides being taken to make it more manageable for those living with PA/TA is promising, however, there seems to be an outpouring of negative comments about the decision and I am frustrated as to how insensitive people can be to us.

I am interested to see how things develop with Air Canada and to see if they appeal the decision. IMHO having a nut free buffer zone doesn't cut it. My problem with it is that they are planning to make announcements only in tht zone but b/c the plane has recirculated air, who's to say how far someone needs to be before it is considered safe to consume nuts. I prefer the way that Air Transat does it which is to not serve nut products of any description and then to make an announcement to all passengers on board so as to minimize the risk. So far of all the years we have been travelling by plane we have had great success with Air Transat, Sunwing and even Skyservice...with Air Transat being the best.

I hope for you and all those who wish to travel but feel they can't at this present time things turn around and more legislation is put in place to make it possible. Everyone deserves the right to vacation and experience the world. I do think it would be harder to travel with some of the US carriers as I believe many of them actually serve peanuts to this day.

Hopefully your goal of travel in a couple of years will be possible with changing airline policies.


By BestAllergySites on Jan 10, 2010

Thanks for the above posts.

I'm embarrassed to admit that we were somewhat new to the allergy thing when my son had a reaction. (I think he was maybe 3 if that.) And we only gave him benadryl and he fell asleep. Which in hindsight could have been him passing out.

In short, he was playing on the floor between the seats for a minute or two--picking up a toy. When he stood up, he started to scratch at his face where hives were now developing. He started to cry and his eyes were swelling.

We only had liquid benadryl and no dispenser or spoon, so I quickly asked my husband to ask a flight attendant for one and state it was an allergic reaction.

I don't remember if he got the spoon or if he said "allergic reaction". But somehow I got the benadryl in him and he calmed after 15 minutes or so.

I only remember the flight staff telling everyone around us "we are so sorry, he's just a tired boy, etc." While my son was screaming.

I was angry at myself for a long time for a. not giving the epi and b. not being more forthright with the staff.

We were very lucky and I don't advocate handling it how we did to ANYONE!

Every situation is different. I say if you are unsure in air or on ground--give the epi. If in air--I would demand a landing only b/c you don't know what the reaction to the epi will be.

It still frightens me to travel via air to this day as my son is severely allergic by hand to eyes, nose, mouth. But as he is getting older--it is getting easier.