Tips for Minimizing the Risk of Peanut Allergy Reactions When Traveling

If airline travel with a nut allergy makes you nervous, here are some helpful tips

Airplane Food
Flickr/Pat Guiney
It's not always easy to know if your airline experience is entirely nut-free...

If you have a nut allergy, you’re probably used to taking extra precautions when eating out — especially when dining in-flight. Even if you request a nut-free meal (or bring your own), close quarters mean that it’s hard to guarantee that you’ll be in a nut-free environment throughout the duration of the flight. Thankfully, though, there are ways to reduce this airline travel anxiety.

A new international study by the University of Michigan lists "eight mitigating factors" that have been proven to reduce the likelihood of an airplane passenger reporting an allergic reaction. These practical measurements include:

  • Requesting any accommodation
  • Requesting a peanut/tree nut-free meal
  • Wiping your tray table with a commercial wipe
  • Avoiding use of airline pillows
  • Avoiding use of airline blankets
  • Requesting a peanut/tree nut-free buffer zone
  • Requesting other passengers not consume peanut/tree nut-containing products
  • Not consuming airline-provided food

According to the study’s lead author, Matthew Greenhawt, M.D., M.B.A., M.Sc., of the University of Michigan’s Food Allergy Center, most airlines still serve nuts as snacks or in meals. Only Canada requires that there be a three-row buffer zone with advance notification only on Air Canada flights. Even still, be sure to check with your airline in advance to see if there's anything they can do to prevent an unpleasant and potentially dangerous flight.


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