26-year-old Abbie Tomlinson, a doctor from Newcastle who suffers from a severe peanut allergy, was scheduled to fly from Heathrow Airport to Hanoi on October 6 via Bamboo airlines.
Tomlinson informed the cabin crew of her allergy upon boarding, asking them not to serve peanuts during the flight.
She told The Independent:
It was really scary, I didn’t take my Covid mask off throughout the whole 14-hour flight or eat on the plane.
I would never fly with Bamboo Airlines again, to be honest, I’m also put off flying from Heathrow too, as they were so unhelpful.
She elaborated on Twitter:
They would not accept that I had a severe nut allergy that is airborne. This is not something I chose to have nor is it something I can magically fix.
They laughed in my face [telling me] you cannot possibly ask people not to eat nuts.
Heathrow staff came aboard to help translate “due to the language barrier”, but the crew maintained that nothing could be done.
“Just have your EpiPen,” they said, according to Tomlinson.
She alleges she was “forced to sign a piece of paper handwritten by the airline saying that if I have an anaphylaxis on board, they will NOT do an emergency landing and if I fly I do so at my own risk and they are not liable if I die on the flight.”
Just to make everything worse, 20 minutes into the flight, every passenger is offered a complimentary bag of peanuts despite all the above happening.
In 2022 I should not be discriminated for having a medical problem I was born with. For info, nut allergies can lead to anaphylaxis and ultimately can lead to a cardiac arrest and death.
An EpiPen buys you 30 minutes of time, but you need to have further hospital treatment following any anaphylaxis.
She told The Independent that despite having issues flying with a peanut allergy before, “this is the first time I’ve ever been asked to sign something to say they wouldn’t emergency land or the first time they have asked me to leave the flight.”
A spokesperson from Bamboo Airways told The Independent:
As a service provider, Bamboo Airways is very sorry that the experience of passenger Abbie Tomlinson on flight QH24 Heathrow to Hanoi on 9 October 2022 was less than satisfactory.
Upon receiving a notice from passenger Abbie Tomlinson about her severe allergy to nuts, we checked the policy and consulted with experienced partners at Heathrow airport.
In fact, not only the physical nuts but also other types of nuts, such as cooking oil and sauces made from nuts, etc., could also do harm.
In addition, this was a 12-hour long-haul flight, and we had to serve meals to the passengers on board to ensure their health and privileges.
Therefore, we recommended that passenger Abbie Tomlinson reschedule to another flight with a more deliberate preparation for meals to ensure her absolute health.
However, passenger Abbie Tomlinson expressed her request to make the flight. Therefore, we gave her a waiver form to sign, which is generally applicable to passengers with special health requirements.
In the waiver, we are committed to supporting changing seats for passenger Abbie Tomlinson to the last row and not serving nuts in her meal. Passenger Abbie Tomlinson signed the waiver to use the aforementioned inflight meal.
During the flight, Bamboo Airways’ crew took special care of passenger Abbie Tomlinson, regularly checking to ensure she was okay. Throughout the journey, we did not receive any complaints or requests for medical assistance from passenger Abbie Tomlinson.
We deeply regret that differences in culture and communication may have led passenger Abbie Tomlinson to misunderstand that our staff acted disrespectfully upon her allergy notation.
We value our passengers, and exceptional service is always our priority.
It is unclear from the reporting whether Dr Tomlinson notified the airline of her allergies in advance of the flight.
We urge all air travelers that require accommodations for food allergies to:
- Visit the airline’s website in advance to familiarize yourself with their policies regarding food allergies;
- Call the airline before booking to discuss whether the accommodations you require are available for your specific flight;
- When booking, note that you require accommodation and cite the airline’s policy and your discussion with airline staff regarding your need and their ability to accommodate you;
- Come to the airport early and remind the gate attendant of your need for accommodations;
- Discuss your required accommodations with the flight crew upon boarding.
We also recommend you visit The No Nut Traveler for more insight into traveling safely with food allergies.