I'm looking for some advice. My DH is traveling this Thursday with our 3 1/2 year old dd who has PA. The only reaction she's ever had was hives upon eating a peanut butter cookie, but we follow very strict avoidance and act as though she is contact allergic. We're hoping this will help her chances of outgrowing the PA.
Anyway, they are flying United from Roanoke, VA to D.C. (about an hour) and D.C. to Miami (2 1/2 hours). I called the airline and they said that none of their snacks contain peanuts, peanut oil, or peanut flour but that do serve may contains. I will be sending DD with her own food to eat during the flights.
I asked the customer service agent about making an announcement requesting that peanuts not be eaten but she said they couldn't control what other people do. This is the first time I've had to deal with this and I don't know if that's an unreasonable request. I mean, they really CAN control what people do. They don't allow smoking on the plane, that's controlling what people do. I'm just frustrated by the whole thing.
Does anyone have any advice on what my DH needs to do to keep her safe? I'm most concerned about the flight between D.C. and Miami since they are the longest.
Should he still try to get a flight attendant to make the passengers aware that a child with PA is flying? She will have 4 epi-pens and Benadryl with her. Should my husband ask to pre-board in order to wipe down her seat and surrounding area? Should he talk to those seated around him and explain that she has an allergy?
I'm just really stressed as this is the first time since she was diagnosed over a year ago that I've had to give primary control to someone else for an extended length of time. To make matters worse, I have an extreme fear of flying so I'm worried about her even being on an airplane.
Any tips are really appreciated. I would really like to have a checklist of sorts to go over with my DH so he won't forget anything during the flights. Thanks in advance!
On Feb 13, 2006
The last time I flew with my PA son he was just 2. He was in a car seat, so we didn't need to worry about wiping down the seat. Will your daughter have her own seat? If not, maybe just bring a towel or small blanket for her to sit on. I would be concerned about residue but I've heard they don't always give you time to do a decent wipedown.
I wouldn't worry the airline snacks, because the main danger of peanuts on airlines is when you have 100+ people opening vaccuum-sealed packages and filling the air with peanut dust. May contain snacks should not pose a threat.
I would, however, make sure the staff knows from the moment of boarding that your daughter has severe food allergies and what to. That way, if someone sitting next to her starts eating pb, then the staff might be able to advocate for your husband so it's not just him asking them to not eat it.
Good luck! I'm glad that at least you don't have to worry about the airline snacks.
On Feb 13, 2006
We have flown many times with contact reactive DD. She once got hives from the airline tray. Now, we always preboard and wipe the tray and armrests. I dress her in a lightweight long sleeve shirt and long pants for added protection. We bring our own food. On flights where peanuts are served, we have asked for a "buffer zone" (i.e. they don't *serve* peanuts within two rows of us--no restriction on what passengers bring) with mixed success. By the way, we have been assured on the phone and by the ticket agent when we checked in that "peanuts would not be served" only to find out after takeoff that, surprise, they ARE serving peanuts! (this was Alaska airlines) So I always ask for a buffer zone to prepare for that possibility. In order to get the buffer zone to work, you need to remind the gate agent and the flight attendants (each one separately!) or they may not remember...(this has happened to us, too.)
Bring a letter from the doctor explaining that your daughter needs to carry on the epipens, just in case of overzealous security personnel.
In my opinion, making an announcement to passengers is of limited value because, frankly, they won't "get it". Your daughter will be next to a window if she is in a car seat, and your husband will be a buffer between her and another passenger.
Don't worry! (easier said than done, lol!) She will be ok!
[This message has been edited by Momcat (edited February 13, 2006).]
On Feb 13, 2006
I don't really have any advice, but I can tell you that we have flown with my anaphylactic pn tna son on several occasions with no problems. One flight was 12 hours to europe, the others about 2 hours. We didn't make any special announcements - he is not contact reactive -- but we did have epis, safe snacks and wipes with us. If it will ease your mind, have the flight attendants make an announcement. Also I notice people tend to be very helpful when they see a dad travelling alone with a young child...go figure! Hope the trip goes well, and you won't be too stressed!
------------------ mom to Ari(5) - severe nut allergies, asthma, you name it - and Maya (8), mild excema
On Feb 14, 2006
Hi my daughter is contact reactive and on US Air we were refused pre boarding to wipe down the seat, they said they don't serve peanuts so I didn't need to wipe!!
But I wiped as soon as I got on and we've never had any problems flying, we do it about once a month and my daughter is now 14 so we've had a whole lot of flying experience. Some airlines will announce, some won't. However I tell the gate people and the flight attendant when we board, I just want them to know.
On a Northwest flight from Detroit last summer we had a woman next to my daughter open a sinckers bar, we were taxing on the runway (not taking off) and we jumped up. The flight attendants were strapped in and were yelling at us to sit down, I refused and explained why. They told us if we didn't sit down we would go back to the gate and they would put us out of the plane (I said fine have the pilot go back) in the meantime this stupid lady won't move to an exit row (my daughter is under 15 the minimum age to sit at an exit row) and is still eating her snickers. Finally a man jumped up and said he wanted to get going and the lady could switch seats with him! (bless him).
So it can get hairy however in all our flying that is the only real situation we've ever had. Personally I'm sure it will all go fine.
On Feb 20, 2006
Thanks for all the advice and support. All went well and they are driving home from the airport at this very moment.
DH only had one negative response regarding PA. On the flight from Miami to DC today, he talked to the head flight attendant upon boarding and told her about dd's allergy. The flight attendant offered to make an announcement that went something like this,"We have a precious little girl flying with us who has a severe peanut allergy. If you don't mind, please don't open any peanut products during the flight. Thanks."
She didn't single out my daughter so nobody knew who had the allergy. A woman in front of DH said, "Well, if she's so allergic, why is she traveling?" What the heck? Is she supposed to stay in the house for the rest of her life. My DH didn't say anything, but he said he wanted to tell her that DD's grandfather had died and flying was the only way she could get there in time. I'll just never understand some people. I tried to imagine back to when food allergies didn't mean anything to me personally and whether I would have had such a response. I just don't think I would have. Would she expect a person with one leg or some other disability to not travel?
Anyway, I realize there are many small minded and small hearted people out there so I am just thrilled that my baby is coming home safe and sound and that DH got to walk a few days in my shoes.
Thanks again for the support.
On Feb 25, 2006
I'm glad everything went well. Some people don't think before they open their mouths! I remember one year we were on vacation and we went into a restaurant. I told the waitress my usual schpiel about PA and her response was "Why do you even take her out?" I was so shocked I said, "What do you suppose we do, lock her in her room and starve her while the rest of us eat?"
I spoke to the manager and next thing I knew that waitress was leaving the restaurant in tears.