Anaphalaxis on Qantas

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G'day all,

I suffered an anaphylactic shock travelling from Los Angeles to Sydney last week. The attack was triggered by peanut oil in the beef stir fry dinner cooking in the ovens.

The meal hadn't been served...it was just fumes in the air.

The airline know of my allergy, and always serve me a special meal, and up until last week I just didn't like the smell of peanuts, an I had to eat them to trigger an attack.

The crew were wonderful, as was a Doctor passenger who nursed me back to life.

I've written to the airline and asked them to consider their ingredients list. We'll see what they say.

------------------ Helen

[This message has been edited by helenmc (edited May 03, 2002).]

[This message has been edited by helenmc (edited November 16, 2002).]

On May 1, 2002

Wow Helen,

What a horrible experience. I'm glad to hear there was a doctor on board and that the crew was helpful. I hope Qantas will be responsive.

Are you Aussie? If so, please communicate this experience to Australia's version of the FAA to make sure it is documented.

Hope you are feeling fine now!

Amy

On May 1, 2002

I am soooo sorry that you had such a horrible experience! Hope you are feeling much better now. It seems like an important thing to notify other airlines about. I do not know any that have agreed to completely eliminate all peanut products from a flight! The best I have found was agreement to serve pretzels instead of peanuts...

On May 2, 2002

Thanks for the kind words and the advice.

I sent a copy of the letter I wrote to Qantas to CASA (Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority) today.

Helen

On Sep 16, 2002

Sorry to have taken so long to reply. The airline did eventually write back to me, after 6 weeks.

They basically said sorry, and glad your OK, but that they can't guarantee a peanut free flight (which, interestingly, I didn't ask for).

I did ask them to reconsider handing out peanuts as the standard on-board snack and using peanuts & peanut oil as ingredients in some dinners, to reduce (but obviously not eliminate) the chances of future problems.

The few times I've flown since (domestic within Australia, not long haul overseas)have been incident free. Asking on booking for a no-nut flight has produced no result. They just say say they can't do it.

Helen

On Sep 18, 2002

This makes me so angry. How hard would it be for them to make this stir fry w/ another type of oil. Also, how hard would it be for them to just serve pretzels.

Grrr...sorry, I have no real advise but the unwillingness of these corporations to take this issue seriously really upsets me.

On Nov 13, 2002

We are due to fly with Qantas in December from Sydney to London. We have only just found out our 4 year old has a life threatening peanut allergy. I have contacted Qantas regarding this. They said there was nothing they could do and individuals with peanut allergys should not fly. I am now very concerned about taking her. How are we supposed to get back home?

On Nov 16, 2002

That's really bad. They're lucky they didn't say that to us or I think we would have taken the whole thing to Kerry O'Brien at the ABC... (for those of you not in Australia, Kerry is the anchor of our national public broadcaster's evening current affairs tv show, the 7.30 Report. You can find it at [url="http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/)."]http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/).[/url]

Qantas have some 80% of our domestic market, and as far as I know the other airline, the no-frills Virgin Blue, only serves peanuts.

What the airline have done to you and your family really stinks. I reckon you should go public - make them explain themselves in the media. They'll look like they have hearts of stone.

Good luck - I'm want to Washington DC in March, so I guess I have selfish reasons for saying that!

Helen

[This message has been edited by helenmc (edited November 16, 2002).]

On Nov 25, 2002

I rang Qantas today, I wanted to see what else I do to to reduce the chance of our Daughter, Cleo, having a reaction.

I wanted to get seats next to fire exit so Cleo could stretch without having to move about the plane where other people will be eating their complimentary peanuts. But this is not allowed by law apparently (Children seated near fire exit).

Qantus told me that because they can't stop passengers bringing their own peanuts onto the flight, they can't guarantee peanut free flight. I pointed out that they could at least reduce the chance of our daughter having a reaction by not serving peanuts. They said that while a very small percentage of passengers have a peanut allergy, most passengers want them and so we'll serve them. The operator pressed home this point by telling me her favorate part of any trip was the peanuts! and that some of their "top" flyers "you know really rich and powerful people" have peanut allergies and we still serve 'em.

I then told the operator of my intention to ask all the passengers seated close to us not to eat peanuts, or at least dispose of them and their rapper carefully. But according to the operator I'm not allowed to do this, although quite what Qantus will do to me for doing so I don't know.

On Nov 25, 2002

Quote:

Originally posted by helenmc: [b]That's really bad. They're lucky they didn't say that to us or I think we would have taken the whole thing to Kerry O'Brien at the ABC... (for those of you not in Australia, Kerry is the anchor of our national public broadcaster's evening current affairs tv show, the 7.30 Report. You can find it at [url="http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/)."]http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/).[/url]

Qantas have some 80% of our domestic market, and as far as I know the other airline, the no-frills Virgin Blue, only serves peanuts.

What the airline have done to you and your family really stinks. I reckon you should go public - make them explain themselves in the media. They'll look like they have hearts of stone.

Good luck - I'm want to Washington DC in March, so I guess I have selfish reasons for saying that!

Helen

[This message has been edited by helenmc (edited November 16, 2002).][/b]

On Nov 26, 2002

Quote:

Originally posted by helenmc: [b]That's really bad. They're lucky they didn't say that to us or I think we would have taken the whole thing to Kerry O'Brien at the ABC... (for those of you not in Australia, Kerry is the anchor of our national public broadcaster's evening current affairs tv show, the 7.30 Report. You can find it at [url="http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/)."]http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/).[/url]

Qantas have some 80% of our domestic market, and as far as I know the other airline, the no-frills Virgin Blue, only serves peanuts.

What the airline have done to you and your family really stinks. I reckon you should go public - make them explain themselves in the media. They'll look like they have hearts of stone.

Good luck - I'm want to Washington DC in March, so I guess I have selfish reasons for saying that!

Helen

[This message has been edited by helenmc (edited November 16, 2002).][/b]

On Aug 13, 2003

Well we've had some small progress out here...

After speaking with the Inflight Services Manager yesterday I learned they are reviewing all their snacks, and may decide to either remove peanuts or at least reduce the number of them onboard by offering other snacks like rice crisps or pretzels. That review will be done over the next 6 months or so.

I also asked about the use of pn oil in their catering. he said he couldn't thnk of any cases where the airline requested it, but that he would check with thier LA kitchens (the meal that Helen reacted to was prepared in LA). I just received an e-mail response, which I've pasted in below.

I feel better in that they took me seriously, even if it wasn't the whole response I was after.

----------------------------------------

Today's letter from Qantas:

Geoff

Thank you for your call yesterday regarding the loading of nuts on our flights. I am sorry that I had to confirm that peanuts are still served on our services (although some services they are not specifically part of the service).

I have checked with our kitchen in LA and have confirmation that our product excluding the deep fryer is cooked with extra virgin olive oil. The deep fryer uses canola or vegetable oil.

As we discussed this only says that there is no planned use of peanut oil, no guarantees can be made regarding accidents, human error, component content etc. I can not make any other representation or promises due to the constraints that we discussed yesterday. I hope this does however give you some comfort that we are not actively using peanut oil in cooking out of LA.

I trust that this information is helpful to you and thatyour next trip is incident free.

Regards

Adam XXXX Inflight Services Operations Manager

----------------------------------------

And my reply:

----------------------------------------

Adam,

Thanks for the follow-up and for your time yesterday.

As I said Helen always gets the low-sodium / fruit platter meals with you, and she won't eat commercially prepared pastries or biscuits etc., and we always carry auto-injectable epinephrine (adrenaline) EpiPens. Its just the air onboard that's hard to avoid.

I'm sorry (and I guess to be honest disappointed) that you will still be serving peanuts as a snack onboard, and of course we'd welcome any change of policy in that regard.

If you want to learn a bit more about how common, distressing and dangerous peanut allergy is look at some of the user threads at [url="http://www.peanutallergy.com/bbpage.htm"]http://www.peanutallergy.com/bbpage.htm[/url]

Regards,

Geoff

-----------------------------------------

Hope you all approve of what we're doing on this...BTW, when I said Helen was allergic to peanuts he said "oh, we hear that about lots of people!" AAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH so why won't they do something about it???????

Geoff (Helen's hubby)

On Aug 22, 2003

so peanut oil is not a vegetable oil now ????

On Dec 14, 2003

For those of you flying Virgin in Australia please see the comments I made in this post [url="http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum9/HTML/000241.html"]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/Forum9/HTML/000241.html[/url]

On Jun 23, 2004

Re-raising

Geoff [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Mar 30, 2005

Re-raising for Louise [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Mar 31, 2005

Hi Helen and Geoff,

What an awful experience. Thank heavens there was a doctor on board to help you. It's so scary to think of what may have happened otherwise. I really doesn't sound as if Qantas have become any more enlightened (and if they are they haven't acted on it!) since my experience in 2000. With such a greater awareness of this allergy these days, I don't understand why they feel the need to serve peanuts at all! There are so many other savoury snacks they could serve. *sigh* From what I've read, they need to take a leaf out of Singapore Airlines book when it comes to treating this allergy seriously. On that Qantas flight home from L.A. to Sydney, the two meal choices in economy were Mexican Beef, or Chicken With Pesto (the one they served me as a supposedly nut free meal) and BOTH meals contained nuts!! Unbelievable.

Louise

On May 3, 2005

What can a doctor do for someone suffering anaphylaxis during a flight other than administer the patient's epinephrine?

We flew home from Florida on Saturday and the family in front of us began eating peanut butter chocolate bars (?). We remained calm but moved her into the aisle further back while I explained to the family what was happening. They were nice and quickly ate their snacks (wish they had just thrown them out) while I stood watching from behind with my heart in my throat.

DD has suffered burned lips, severe nasal congestion and very red, itchy eyes in the past on USAIR and ATA flights from Philadelphia to Florida, and SanFran--always from either protein remaining on surfaces or from other passengers eating their own snacks. I was pondering this very issue on Saturday and then saw this posting. EXACTLY what would we need to do if we were unlucky enough to be onboard where no doctor is present and my daughter was to suufer an anaphylaxis episode and/or shock--and even if there is a doctor--what can they do apart from the epinephrene??????????

On May 4, 2005

Tell them that they need to land the plane ASAP and have an advanced life support ambulance waiting. Explain that Epipen only lasts 15 minutes and the severeness of the reaction may return.

Also, it's a good idea to have several epipens handy just in case.

On May 4, 2005

what airline? were you on suzie and did any one offer to help? (flight crew)

On May 5, 2005

antihistamine, steriods and something else that I can't remember.

It's a good reason not to travel on really cheap international airlines - the advice available from Medaire in Phoenix that the major carriers sign up to is worth paying for (doctor passengers talk to specialists in Pheonix via radio in the cockpit). Medaire take the liability (if the Dr does what they say to do) and know what is in the medkit on board.

BTW a fully laden 747 with >100 t of fuel onboard cannot land for several hours as the landing gear is not strong enough to withstand the forces from all that weight. Same deal for other fully laden intercontinental aircraft types.

Geoff

On May 6, 2005

We were on US AIR. I had called several weeks prior to the flight and was informed that there would be nuts in first class. I asked if they could be removed. I was told that they couldn't be removed but that coach now serves pretzels. We decided to "wing" it (pardon the pun) and once on board, my husband,VERY POLITELY, began to explain to the stewardess that our daughter is highly allergic to nuts. (I know he was about to ask that they make an announcement as other flights have done). Immediately, the stewardess interrupted and said, "Well you should have called a long time ago because there are nuts (almonds)in first class. DID YOU MAKE SURE YOU BROUGHT MEDICATION FOR YOUR CHILD BECAUSE IF NOT...???" I immediately interrupted and calmly said, "Yes, we brought medication. Thank you so much."

I just wanted to calm the tension and anger she had for some unknown reason towards the issue--she couldn't have been mad at us as people--we were being very, very pleasant. I also did not want to be kicked off the plane! I am so upset by this. The stewardess seemed glad to be done with the issue but when we moved my daughter away from the peanut eaters and someone said, "the little girl can smell it" the stawardess responded, "well I have some perfume we could spray." Now maybe she was talking about something else, but the timing as she passed me was way to much in mind to be coincidence. UGH! I'm so mad right now! I'm madder today than I was at the time because all I wanted to do was get home safely! Thanks for listening. I am going to write to US AIR.

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