When it comes to flying with food allergies there is a lot to consider. As a frequent flyer with multiple life-threatening food allergies, these food risks can often be avoided and have definitely saved me from reactions in the past. Here are some of the top risks that I avoid taking for safer travel when flying with food allergies.
Packing Foods & Cosmetics I Haven’t Tried Before
Why ask for trouble, right? It’s pretty typical to buy travel sized cosmetics and safe snacks before a trip. When I do this, I only choose foods and cosmetics that I know I’ve already had or used successfully. I will not purchase something new before I travel. If on the off chance I do decide to, which is rare, I will ALWAYS try it before I pack it. I don’t want to be somewhere unfamiliar having a reaction if I could have avoided it. This includes skin reactions to lotions or soap. I know it is tempting to purchase something new for a trip, but don’t bring it along unless you’ve tried it first.
Note: Remember to always check ingredients. Different sized products sometimes have different ingredients.
Dining at the Airport
Trust me on this one. Dining at the airport is risky and should be avoided. Even restaurant chains that you are familiar with, are not the same in airports. Sometimes food is brought in from other locations and awareness of cross contact, ingredients, and general food allergy knowledge is less common or consistent. Often there are ways to avoid airport food and I suggest doing this at all costs. Eat ahead if possible and pack safe food for the airport and travel. The few times when I’ve tried to order something simple at an airport restaurant, they were unable to tell me anything about where the food came from or how it would be prepared. In those few experiences, I did not end up eating. Sure, I was hungry and craving warm food. However, now I know to pack foods I can try to heat up on my own and not to rely on any airport restaurants.
Eating Airline Food
DON’T DO IT! Honestly, it baffles me that people even consider eating meals on planes with life-threatening food allergies. It can be challenging to get a safe meal at a restaurant on solid ground. Do you really want to risk it in the air? Flight attendants are working in small spaces with no idea how the food was prepared or who prepared it. I don’t care how much money you spent on your flight. The risk is not worth it. I also don’t think at this point, that airlines have the capability or the desire to find a way to safely accommodate food allergies. Until there is serious education and understanding, NO ONE with food allergies should eat an airline meal. I know that some airlines offer options like vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, etc. That’s great, but food allergies are life threatening and should not be lumped into this group. Even if the airline says they have a “peanut free” meal option, that should not be trusted. From my understanding, it does not mean that the food is safely sourced. It means that there are not active ingredients of peanut in the food. Usually I always say to trust your comfort level. With this, I say don’t do it. This risk is NOT worth it! If there is any airline that wants to prove me wrong and show me the process, I am happy to learn and listen, but until that happens I have absolutely no trust in airline meals.
Are there food risks that you avoid when flying? Share them in the comments!