Flying with nut allergic children

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Hello everyone. I have not posted very much previously, and am writing from Australia. This subject should probably be under the Airline board, however these circumstances are a little different and I need some advice in a hurry please.

We are having to make an unexpected flight this week and have 2 boys who are both nut allergic. Bailey (3.5yrs)allergic to cashew nuts and Brandon (2 yrs) allergic to peanuts & almonds. I am VERY nervous as you can imagine and am thinking that I may cancel the whole thing the way things are going. There are 2 main airlines who fly on the route we are travelling and neither are prepared to guarantee a nut-free flight. One suggested that even if they did not serve nuts on board, they can't stop people from bringing them on board, but at least that would be less risk.

My question is - do you think it would make a difference if they were to wear a face mask of some sort? The flight is about 1.5 hrs and I have never been faced with having to travel this way before, so please excuse my ignorance if this isn't an option. The thing is I don't even know if they are airborne allergic, however am not willing to risk it in such a confined space. We definately won't be going if they can't at least guarantee they won't serve nuts on board - at least that leaves only individuals who may have them.

The company who is doing all the booking for us have been very helpful and are checking into what else can be done.

I would appreciate any suggestions or comments anyone has about this. Thanks very much for your help. Regards, Kimee

On Jun 18, 2002

Here are some suggestions that have worked for me . . .

1. I talk to the gate agents right away. I am SUPER nice and ask for their help. I Tell them how nervous I am. Play up the innocent thing. They usually seem eager to help. Make many announcements asking passengers to help me out. I have found that people are more responsive if ASKED, not told. Then they are curious, too.

2. I give my son a dose of Benadryl before the flight.

3. My son's skin is VERY sensitive. After one flight the back of his neck was full of eczema from the peanut residue on the seats. I now have him wear a turtleneck.

4. Preboarding by yourself to wipe down your seats of any obvious allergens before you board your family should help too.

5. Pack WAY more epi-pens than you think you would need.

Good Luck! Best Wishes! Flying is SO STRESSFUL! Lisa

On Jun 18, 2002

Last summer we flew Northwest, and although they also said they cannot guarantee that passengers will not bring peanuts on board, they made a very nice announcement as soon as everyone boarded explaining that there was a severely allergic passenger on board and asking that anyone who had brought peanuts to please not open them. I think you should ask them to do this for peanuts and nuts. Still a passenger may ignore this request, but it should really decrease the chance of a passenger eating nuts or peanuts of their own. Good luck.

On Jun 18, 2002

We do not fly on any airlines that generally serve peanut snacks. We only fly on airlines that will guarantee a peanut free snack for the main cabin. We fly as early in the morning as possible to minimize the chance that there will be peanut and nut candies and foods brought on by other passengers. We always speak with customer or special service department personnel as reservation staff do not always know what is going on. Then a week before the flight and again the day before the flight we call to check that the computer with the reservation staff reads a request for peanut free flight. When we check in at the airport we check again, then again at the gate, and finally upon entering the aircraft we check with the flight crew before going to our seats. I bring 4-6 epipens, and my husband brings 1 additional-all on the plane. My son is airborne, contact, and ingestion sensitive. We only fly American and United in the US. We have not flown international yet. We have not boarded early, but do wipe down the seats, arms rests, trays, and window shades,etc. and try to keep him from touching everything he can get his hands on, but it is difficult. I bring wipes and wash his hands every so often. I also bring a plastic bag to put in the seat compartment that holds the earphones, magazines, etc. so that we can put some stuff in there too w/o worrying even more. It is very stressful, but keeping the kids engaged and enjoying their excitement of being in an airplane - may occasionally help you to relax for a second here or there. We never eat any of the airplane food, but do drink from the beverage cart. We have flown about 8 times w/o a problem. I have 5 year old twin boys. Only one is allergic to peanuts/nuts. I hope this is helpful and that you have a safe trip.

On Jun 18, 2002

One thing I decided after our first flight was that I would take a bed sheet to cover the row of seats (and extend down to the floor). My 14 month old kept throwing her pacifiers, toys, sippy cups, etc. during the flight. Each one that hit the seat or floor had to be put away for the duration of the flight.

On Jun 19, 2002

Hi everyone.

Thanks for posting all your ideas and kind wishes. Some great tips amongst the messages - I appreciate you all sharing your experiences.

I also managed to speak with the travel expert at the allergy association here in Australia (FACTS) and she also gave me some great ideas and confidence to now make the flight.

Thanks again everyone for being so helpful on this subject and also so many other important issues - this board always has informative discussions which really get me thinking about ideas to educate people about allergies.

Have a great day! Regards, Kimee

On Jun 26, 2002

Simply re-raising! Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

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On Jun 26, 2002

I just returned from flying with my almost 3 year old tna/pa child. We flew United, and they do not serve peanuts. They do serve nuts though (and he is more seriously allergic to nuts than peanuts). On the way out they served a breakfast mix with almonds, and on the way back they served a trail mix with almonds. These were 4 hours flights. My son is touch sensitive, but he had no reactions at all (though I am not sure how allergic he is to almonds). My husband was concerned when he realized they were serving a nut product, but since nuts are not "dusty" like peanuts, I was confident that all would be okay.

On Jun 26, 2002

san103- I, too, just flew with my 3yo pa/tna son...on United. LOL The snacks were even the same. In our case, Matt is contact sensitive to almond residue even, so I took 2 sheets (one for each leg of the flight) to put under him on the seat, and a bunch of wipes to wipe everything down. I did this for 3 out of the 4 legs (we had one stop each way, so a total of 4 planes). The fourth flight was extremely delayed and by the time we got on the plane I, as well as both kids, were literally half-asleep. We'd been sleeping in the terminal. Anyways. Being half-asleep, and having had absolutely no problems on any of the 3 prior flights, I decided to skip the wiping down and sheet. I figured he was going to sleep the whole time anyway, so he wouldn't be touching anything but the one arm rest...

Well. I made a mistake. =( Before the flight attendants had even come down the aisle to pass out the trail mix (with almonds, of course), he had a mild asthma attack and I had to groggily dig out the inhaler and spacer. After he got the meds, he was fine and slept peacefully the whole way in, but I definently learned my lesson. With *this* kid, I need to ALWAYS put down that sheet and wipe all surfaces down.

There's no doubt in my mind that the asthma attack was due to trace almond residue on that seat. He had the same reaction, only with hives as well, the last time he reacted to trace almond residue. That was my fault as well. =( I hadn't washed my hands after eating Almond Roca candy. Foolish me thought that since he had tested negative on the skin-prick to almonds, the hand-washing wasn't necessary. *sigh*

On Jun 27, 2002

How did your flight go, Kimee?

On Jun 27, 2002

MattsMom,It is good to hear that Matt is doing fine. Thanks for posting your experience. Each day I learn all the different everyday things that we have to be careful about and that we just take for granted. I have been so thankful for all the information and the support on this site since we found about DD's PA.

On Jun 27, 2002

Hi all, Thanks for asking how the flights went Gail - they were fine. I haven't had a chance to post before now as I've had both the boys with bronchitis since our return and have been sick myself. We are on the mend now though.

Our flights were fine. The airline wasn't helpful or interested at all in knowing about the allergies, but thankfully things went smoothly anyway. We went on a midday flight and they only served a snack (cheese & biscuits or a sweet) and one way was an apple & walnut slice - they were the only nuts we saw. The boys aren't sensitive to walnuts thank goodness and we just took our own food for them to eat. Brandon (2) loved the plane and couldn't wait to come back on it, however Bailey (3.5) was not keen at all but seemed a bit more at ease on the return trip.

Thanks for posting your experiences everyone else - you can never have too much info or ideas about this stuff and it's nice to know people are out there who care. Sorry to hear about your recent experience Matts Mom - it must be so stressful for you every time you go somewhere never to be able to let your guard down. I hope all your future flights are trouble-free.

Stay safe everyone and thanks again. Kimee

On Jun 29, 2002

Some time ago I read a post on airline travel that suggested using disposable plastic tablecloths as the sheet covering the seat.

I think disposable plastic drop cloths for painting or plastic sheeting cut from a roll would also work. These are a little more substantial than the tablecloths and available at the hardware store.

On multi leg flights, bring extras and discard. It's not worth it trying to salvage them. If you do have a plastic or vinyl drop cloth you want to wash I suggest putting it in with several towels, they help rub off the dirt.

On Jul 2, 2002

Hi Kimee

I'm from Australia too and my 2yo daughter is allergic to peanuts. Like you I rang Qantas to ask if they could provide alternative snacks on the flight to Singapore instead of the usual peanuts but the lady sounded very irate and said I just had to take the risk because they couldn't guarantee it. I must say that my daughter isn't touch sensitive (yet) but still the fact that there would be peanuts/traces of it everywhere on the plane just made me feel really apprehensive. Thankfully despite the serving of the peanuts to all the passengers (except us I think), she didn't react - although I kept watching her face to see if it would 'blow up'. The air steward that served us was a lovely man but seemed rather amused that with every meal served I would ask, 'are there any nuts in this?'. Great to hear that your boys (and you!) survived the trip okay...there must be some way we can educate the airline industry about severe allergies...

take care and stay safe.

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