We are flying in November with 3 year old who has PA and requires an epi-pen at all times. There was a form letter suggested for pediatricians to sign for security personal at the airports. I can't seem to find the form. Does anyone remember this form and how to access it? Also, does anyone have any other suggestions for flying with PA child. We have never travelled on United before. Thanks
On Aug 20, 2002
Here is the link to the letter I brought when I traveled on airlines
On Aug 20, 2002
We called our allergist and they mailed us the standard letter they use. (I think it's just about word for word the FAAN letter)
On Aug 21, 2002
We just got home yesterday from Michigan on United. Here is the letter our allergist wrote. "(Name of child) suffers from a life-threatening allergy and must carry an epi-pen at all times in case of accidental exposure. An epi-pen is an auto injector of epinephrine and is medically indicated for this patient. An epi-pen may be life-saving and thus are considered to be a medical necessity. For this patient epi-pens must be carried on all airline flights, just as in all other situations."
About United, I was disheartened to have them serve plain M and M`s as part of the peanut free snack. My daughter has been taught to stay away from plain M and M`s and I was not at all pleased to have 200 people in the airplane eating them. I asked the lady next to us not to eat hers and she was very nice about it. Fortunately nothing happened. I don`t know how you feel about everyone eating plain M and M`s. It was not at all what I expected since I was told the snack was peanut free.
On Aug 21, 2002
My allergist also gave me a form letter that said that I have a life-threatening allergy, and that the Epi Pen could save my life in the even of an anaphylactic reaction. Ohare had some problems with it (by that I mean, they did not seem to be aware of what it was, and why I had it. They also read my letter and then they were more accepting of it.
San Francisco's airport was very lenient about the Epi-Pen, but I contributed it to the fact that the security people knew what it was-I didn't even have to show them the letter. I did at the gate though. The flight attendants were very nice-asked me what to do if I were to have a reaction and how to use it. It took all of about 30 seconds. They even asked me if almonds were okay to serve-which they were, as I am not nut allergic.
My friend is trying to get a job as a security agent at an airport and I told her about the Epi Pen and about the idiot at Ohare who asked me if I ate peanuts when I was letting her know I had the allergy. My friend was less than "Friendly" for lack of a better term when I told her about this. She looked at me like I was nuts and I've known her for 17 years. I don't expect her to remember that I have an allergy and I knew she didn't know it was now life-threatening, but I was appalled at her lack of sensitivity. She really did not know that people could die from ingesting a peanut, so I had to give her a crash course. (I really don't think she cares, but it's funny b/c she gave me grief when her son seemed to have an allergic reaction to my cat (it was the first time he was exposed to her-not known whether he's been around cats). She actually accused me of trying to hurt her child, as if it were my fault he was allergic. I guess it's the mama bear in her, but you really have to get to know her to know she's kind of wacky! I digress....
No place that checks my purse has ever questioned me about my albuterol inhaler, so I don't even worry about it.
On Aug 22, 2002
Thanks for the information everyone. I am feeling very nervous about flying with my PA child. If anyone else has flown United, please relay your experiences. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
On Aug 22, 2002
Brooke`s mom, the details of my experience are under the thread about "does anyone know United serves pbj sandwiches on request". Anyhow, I called United today and have some follow up to report. I called Customer Relations, and got some guy who in one phone call told me United is peanut free and that United is not peanut free all in the same phone call. I asked him to check on the policy while I held, and he came back and said they do not serve any peanut products unless requested by a specific passenger. I said well, I`m sure all 200 passengers did not request these M and M`s, so United`s policy was not followed. He and I went around and around on this, and he told me to write a letter. I said I would write a letter, but I also would like to speak to someone higher up to find out why this happened, as my letter will just be one of hundreds received that day, and I don`t want to receive some canned response, I want United to look into why this happened. Well, I got no help from him, so finally I told him I was going to contact the media (that always works!), and got off the phone. Within 2 minutes my phone rang, and it was a supervisor at United Customer Relations. She was so nice, took down all the information, still wants a letter so it is all documented, but said she would look into it right away. She called back later, and said she had contacted catering and the buyers who buy the food, and that copies of my letter would be sent to them. She said M and M`s should NOT have been served, and by the way, they have even stopped seving pbj on request 3 weeks ago, as they decided they would have no peanuts ever. So the M and M`s definitely was against their own policy, and she is looking into it. So I don`t think you will have the same experience. I think they are going to take care of it. We spoke at length, I explained to her that I could not even let my daughter have apple juice after flight attendant cleaned up the M and M`s and then touched the cup where my daughter`s lips would be. She seemed to get it, or who knows maybe it was my "media threat" that did it. It is such a shame that I should have to resort to that, but it seems that the problem is going to get resolved. Since you are not flying until November, I will post again after I find out what happened.
On Aug 22, 2002
Carefulmom- thanks for the info on United! And for following through until you got a real response. That is so hard to do sometimes, and always so frustrating and upsetting, for me anyway...
On Aug 22, 2002
Yes, it IS hard to do. The guy was so obtuse. He reminded me of posts under the Main Board or Living With PA, where people talk about family members who just don`t get it. What really bothered me, is we got back Tuesday, then on Wednesday my uncle died, and I want to go to Arizona for the funeral tomorrow, and yet I am NOT going to put my daughter on a plane with 200 people eating M and M`s. I think that is a very high risk may contain. Anyhow, between the fact that I was afraid to book another flight on United, and the fact that someone else who doesn`t live on these boards like I do could fly with a pa child and not think about the flight attendant using the same gloved hand to clean up the M and M`s and then pass out drinks, and that mother might not think to not let the child have the drink, and the child could have a reaction. So I really emphasized to this supervisor at United, that they need to stop the M and M`s right away. I am SO glad that my daughter told me that the flight attendant had touched her hand. I never would have thought that would happen during the 30 seconds I was in the bathroom. A child who was contact sensitive and didn`t know to tell his mother about having been touched could have had a reaction. This was the first time that my daughter has been touched by someone who touched a peanut product (although it was really a may contain). For some others on these boards, it could have been a HUGE problem in the air.
On Aug 23, 2002
We flew United last Tuesday and the plain M & M's did not bother us at all. This is a very self contained snack with few crumbs, etc., and is a "may contain".
I never let my child eat them, but do not consider this a very strong hazard. I would much rather see them than mystery baked goods which crumb all over the place or chocolate candy bars which are far messier and are virtually all "may contain".
We were somewhat worried about the Planter's peanut store in terminal 1 at O'Hare. This is United's big terminal area and it provides loose peanuts as snack's for the gate area and for people to take on the planes.
I thought this store was inappropriately placed in the terminal area of an airline that does not serve peanuts. United flyers were obviously patronizing the store and it creates an extra hazard for the terminal area and the planes for PA folks.
United is best described as an airline which does not serve dry or honey roast peanuts as snacks. They consider this to be "peanut free". There is no generally accepted definition of the term "peanut free" and this is their interpretation.
No assumptions should be made that "may contains" or "nut containing" foods will not be served. United is very upfront about this, and there are many previous United posts about this.
We fly United exclusively as I consider it the best choice. If they don't fly there, my PA child doesnt't go there. In comparison, consider ATA (you can't board their planes) or SouthWest(peanuts always and very minimal cleaning). I'm not going to get on United's case about a few M & M's, I'm just hoping they stay in business and continue to set an example to the rest of them.
As far as Epi pens, we were never questioned about them at all at any security area and did not have to use our pediatrician's letter. It was modified from the FAAN form letter to say "medically required" rather than "please allow". I was a little surprised no one ever asked about them- we were carrying 4 of them!
I was wanded and patted down, my husband was "shoe'd", and my child's carry on was searched (small toys literally erupting out as it was opened), but nothing about the epi's.
I have a seperate non PA type complaint about the gate agent regarding her problem with me traveling under my maiden name, but that is a "whole 'nother story".
On Aug 23, 2002
Actually, having spoken with United many times, it is incorrect that United does not claim to be "may contain peanuts" free. In fact they do claim and it is their policy to be "may contain peanut" free. This is in distinction to tree nuts which they do not claim to be free of. I also noticed the Planter`s store and of course we steered clear of it. My allergist said several of his patients who are pa have had reactions to plain M and M`s and it is a much higher risk "may contain" due to the manufacturing. At one point I called them when my daugher`s teacher was deciding about whether to allow M and M`s in the peanut free class room. They openly admit that there is essentially no cleaning between the plain and peanut M and M`s. To me this is a much riskier may contain than, for example Brach`s fruit snacks which also are and which were allowed in her classroom. In any case, United`s stated policy is that they do not ever serve "may contain peanuts" and this clearly goes against that.
[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited August 23, 2002).]
On Aug 23, 2002
We flew a few months ago and while going through security, the guard pulled aside the diaper bag which contained my son's four epi's. I thought, oh gosh, here we go, they're going to give me a hard time boading with all these epi's. He was diligently trying to get to the bottom of the bag and I noticed he had pulled the epis aside. Then he reaches in, pulls out one of my son's Matchbox cars and says "Here's what was setting off the machine!"
On Aug 23, 2002
We flew United just 3 weeks ago. It was a cross country trip, so meals were involved. I was told the kids meal was pbj or grilled cheese. I opted to not let my PA son eat any of the plane food. I brought everything with me........just not willing to chance anything when flying in the "friendly skies". Anyway, I didn't really look at the food served, but the snack did seem to contain a trail mix of some kind........with nuts? Not sure about that, but it did look suspicious.
As for the epi, they told me to make sure that I carried the prescription label with the pen and there wouldn't be a problem. There wasn't........no one asked anything! I flew through Washington Dulles and San Jose California. Hope this helps.
On Aug 23, 2002
Based on my conversation with the Customer Relations Supervisor yesterday, United`s policy is that the trail mix can contain tree nuts but not peanuts. I never saw the trail mix on our flights. United will not even serve products that use peanut oil, whether heat pressed or cold pressed. Their policy is to be totally peanut free, even though it wasn`t for us.
On Aug 24, 2002
I have an email from United which states they will not guarantee peanut free. I believe you might be interested in what they commit to in "writing".
I cannot get it to paste in , wrong format or something. I will reenable my email address in my profile for a day or two. If you wish to email me, I can forward a copy of the text to you.
[This message has been edited by CVB in CA (edited August 24, 2002).]
On Aug 24, 2002
Thanks, I just emailed you, so if you want to get your email address off your profile, go ahead. I would love to see the letter. They told me on the phone that they cannot guarantee a peanut free flight because of what other passengers could bring on board, and because of the pbj on request. However, the pbj on request has ended, so the Customer Relations Supervisor told me on Thursday that their flights are now completely peanut free unless another passenger brings peanuts on board.
On Aug 27, 2002
We just flew on Northwest this week and nobody even asked us about the Epi-Pens. I did have the form letter signed by his doctor, just in case.
As for the letter from the airline about the peanut-free flights, I had it (and made four copies to hand out to the gate attendants at each of our four flights), but only the last of the four even asked to see it. It also stated that they do not guarantee a peanut-free flight, but only because of what the OTHER passengers are bringing on board. They can't be held responsible for that.
Our experiences were excellent ... hopefully yours will go just as well. I think it's simply a matter of the industry getting more aware and having to deal with it more often. Some of the people I dealt with were clueless (albeit helpful), whereas others were very well-versed and had dealt with it often. I got the impression that flying right now, as compared to even a year ago, is a big difference. I hope things continue to improve on ALL the airlines ...
On Apr 19, 2003
Traveling through Dulles on my way back home one guard questioned my epi-pen. The second guard told him that I had to keep the epi-pen with me at all times. After the second guard checked my lap top and digital camera (I had to turn them on to prove they were real), he suggested that I put the epi in my money belt in case my carry on bag inaccessible during the flight. I do carry my epi in my money belt when traveling, hiking, biking (I may be allergic to bee/wasps stings also). I just take it out and put in with my first aid kit to go through security.
On May 29, 2003
I just flew from Los Angeles to Denver to Chicago to Burlington, Vermont and back on United Airlines. I had two Epi-pens in my carry on luggage and it didn't even occur to me that it might be a problem on a plane. We were at " Orange Alert" and the steel shanks in my clogs were causing a major security delay but the needles in the epi-pens were not even mentioned. Nobody even asked about them. Also all of the flights served peanut-free snacks. I was very happy.
(Continental.. when I called.. actually suggested that I walk to Vermont because they weren't going to take peanuts off thier flights)