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A Pilot’s Opinion on Flying with a Peanut Allergy

A Pilot’s Opinion on Flying with a Peanut Allergy

Peanut allergy and flying

Flying with a peanut allergy takes the fear of flying to a whole new level: you are in an enclosed environment at the mercy of others. You would think that because it can be potentially life-threatening for an allergic person to fly other passengers would rally together to make sure that individual is safe. But more often than not, passengers would rather get their complimentary peanuts than accommodate an allergy. It’s true. I’ve heard the angry murmurs after an announcement is made asking people to refrain from eating nuts on the flight.

The hostility is not just on the plane. Recently it has been a heated theme in the media. Take the article about a boy being kicked off a plane because the pilot felt he was a liability. Seriously! I thought pilots would be on our side! Time to investigate.

What does a Pilot think about serving nuts on a plane?

To get a better idea of what a pilot might think of passengers flying with a peanut allergy I contacted Pilot Patrick Smith from His response made my heart explode with happiness! If only all pilots felt this way!

Getting A Pilot’s Opinion

We asked Pilot Patrick, what are your thoughts on banning certain foods on flights, such as peanuts?  And what do you think about making an announcement about a food allergy?

Pilot Parick Smith: “I am generally pretty sympathetic to the allergic flyer. I have no problem with passengers asking that nuts not be served nearby, or requesting that nearby passengers be made aware. As for banning them outright, however, be it as a general policy or on a per-flight basis, I’m not sure. I’d need to think about it.

Offhand, I’d say that yes, carriers should refrain from serving nuts if it’s that unsafe for somebody.

Honestly, given how many people are very, often dangerously allergic to nuts, I don’t understand why carriers have stuck with these products as snacks.”  

“Not only are they unsafe for many people but they make a mess, dropping into the seat tracks and carpet crevices, etc.”

Well, there we have it. It’s all about being compassionate to those with food allergies. (duh!) I always ask myself: would people react this way if it was a visible disability? Passengers wouldn’t complain about accommodating someone in a wheelchair the way they do with a food allergy. Just because they can’t see, it doesn’t mean it’s not real.

How has your experience flying with a peanut allergy been?

Here are some airplanes we have flown on with a peanut allergy

P.S. Did you know SWISS does not serve peanuts on their planes!

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View Comments (5)
  • Kortney- I wanted to thank you for posting this article and for your blog, I stumbled across it today. I too have had a peanut allergy almost since birth, this is the only lifestyle I’ve ever known!
    Everything changed this summer when I had an anaphylactic reaction to an unknown substance while I was boarding a plane. It was a reaction very different than any anaphylactic peanut reaction I had and it was by far significantly more severe. As a result I have been living with PTSD than has morphed into an eating disorder.
    Finding your blog has given me hope that I can get through this and start living life again. Until I came across your blog I didn’t really feel like there was anyone out there that really understood even though I know millions face severe food allergies. Thanks for being so positive and bring these issues forward.

    • Hi Amy,
      Your message means a lot to me. 🙂 I can totally relate to feeling like no one else knows what it’s like to live with anaphylaxis.
      I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to you this summer. It’s always frustrating when you can’t pin point the reaction to something. I hope that you are starting to heal from that reaction and you are gaining more confidence in eating.
      Please let me know if you are interested in connecting further or want some resources/support group information.

  • I am now 100% comfortable with living my daily life with an allergy. But: I’m still getting anxiety the moment i stepped on a plane/travel. I’m getting better each time, considering I had the occasionnal anxiety attack while being away. Thank you for this travel series!!

    And why do airlines STILL serve dangerous allergens BUT often offer gluten/dairy/egg free options?!?!?

    Rant over!!

    • We have definitely come a long way, but sure do have some more distance to cover when it comes to keeping us safe in the air. I’m happy to hear that you are managing your allergies in your day to day. Do you have travel plans in the future?

  • I wish all pilots/carriers would have this common sense compassionate attitude! Not only am I allergic to nuts but am anaphylactic to latex. I had an extremely scary situation on American Airlines to both nuts AND latex. They refused to not serve nuts, rufused to not use latex gloves, refused to let me off the plane and made me move from first class to the back of the plane because they thought it wouldn’t bother my allergy back there! ? I am scheduled to fly to Ireland next month and am getting very nervous again.

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