1-in-3 Air Travelers with Food Allergies Choose Not to Disclose Fact to Airline


Data presented at this year’s AAAAI Annual Meeting shows 98% of survey participants reported increased anxiety while traveling due to food allergies.

The study, presented by Christopher Warren, PhD, lead investigator and assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, surveyed over 4,700 individuals or their caretakers about managing their risk of anaphylaxis during air travel.

Aside from participants reporting receiving inconsistent guidance regarding booking, security, and boarding, a surprising one-third of individuals intentionally avoided disclosing their allergies while traveling.

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Said Warren:

The most common reason people reported not disclosing is because they were afraid they would get in trouble or have some sort of an unwanted accommodation that they viewed as unhelpful and that’s obviously worrisome for a lot of reasons.

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction to a food, drug, insect venom, or environmental substance. Without prior knowledge of a traveler’s food allergy, anaphylaxis can be mistaken for any number of health issues resulting in a delay in the administration of epinephrine. Epinephrine is the only drug that can halt and reverse the progression of anaphylaxis and delay in the administration of the drug results in poorer outcomes.

Said Warren:

Also, a lot of these cases were parents reporting on behalf of children, and you’d hate for parents to model that behavior for children where — given the situation — “it’s easier to just fly under the radar and deal with this ourselves”. You want to be empowering children to be proactive and managing their medical condition in the healthiest, safest possible way.

Do you disclose your food allergies or those of your child to the airline before flying? Let us know why or why not in the comments section.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of SnackSafely.com.

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  1. We always notify the airline at the gate and to the flight attendant welcoming us onto the plane. Many times they will make an announcement over the intercom or to the rows around ours to make flyers aware. Its a little uncomfortable at first but then a relief for the rest of the flight.

  2. We no longer claim an allergy with airlines. Despite their claims, they are NOT helpful at all. We bring food, which is eaten before the flight and then our daughter wears a KN95 mas with a medical mask over it during the flight.

  3. We have notified the airlines when booking and also pre-boarding. Have been treated rudely by flight attendants “Oh, it’s another one of those!”

  4. I understand why they don’t say anything. I use to always check with the airlines before booking and never had a problem. When my son was 14 I did the same and as always they noted it on our reservations and when I got to the gate as I was told to do and as I did in the past for years I was told my son can board the plane BUT the flight attendant was going to eat her peanuts in flight and they would not make an emergency landing. The flight attendant and captain on the plane came out and told us to our face that he might have an emergency and that they would not land so it was up to us. I said it’s only a 2 1/2 hour flight and I will purchase anything for the flight attendant to eat. They refused and I lost 3 round trip tickets.
    I had to take another airline to see my dying father so his grandchildren could see him again and it cost me 6 round trip tickets. So No I don’t blame people for not saying anything because it looks as if some airlines do not care.

    • You have rights and not only did they threaten life, they discriminated a disability. A food allergy is a protected disability under 504 of the disability act. This makes my blood boil. What they did was “fucked-up!” I have travled with my kids with food allergies and just didn’t know I could inform the airline, but I plan to do so on our next trip. They better not give me shit or I’ll be kicking someone’s ass.


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