Mother Furious After Airport Screener Dumps Child’s Allergy Meds Prior to Flight


14-year-old Ben Wakefield was traveling with his class from Manchester to Italy. The boy was first diagnosed with food allergies at two years old when his arm swelled after contact with peanut butter. At 10, he had a severe reaction to a nougat bar and was rushed to the hospital, where he was admitted in critical condition.

His mom, Emma Wakefield, said: “There is no doubt they saved his life, and it was a reminder how serious it could be. When the school trip came around, I wanted him to go and have fun, but I was also worried.”

The boy was carrying his medications, paperwork, prescription, and doctor’s letter and was wearing a disability lanyard. He was accompanied by a teacher designated to watch over him alone.

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Ms Wakefield says she followed Manchester Airport’s guidance to a T:

I had packed two lots of medication, one in hand luggage, one in the hold, so if he had any problems in the airport or on the journey, he had his Epipen and his antihistamine. He also had two inhalers.

As he passed through security, Ben was separated from his teacher. It was then that a security worker determined that the quantity of antihistamine in his bottle exceeded the limit and poured it away.

Ms Wakefield said:

I was worried about him going away, because of his allergies, and so I followed all the instructions very carefully. The security worker didn’t check with Ben’s teacher, and he didn’t consult his doctor’s letter or his care plan. He simply saw that Ben had too much liquid and poured it away.

That decision could have had tragic consequences. Ben got on a flight without all the medication he needed, and he was at risk. In the past, he’s been extremely ill in hospital with allergies. His condition, and others like his, need to be taken seriously. At the very least, security workers should not be making decisions for children without even letting their adult know.

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Ben landed safely in Italy but needed his second batch of medication to treat a reaction to an apple.

Ms Wakefield complained to the airport administration who maintained their screener “was correct in discarding the item.” The reply stated:

I do understand your concerns regarding the medication, unfortunately we cannot allow this in hand baggage as per the directive of the DfT [Department for Transport] details and operating procedures we must follow, and I apologise for any upset this has caused you.

However, the official UK Government website states:

Medicines, medical equipment and dietary requirements

You’re allowed to carry the following in your hand luggage:

  • essential medicines of more than 100ml, including liquid dietary foodstuffs and inhalers
  • medical equipment, if it’s essential to your journey.

You’ll need to carry proof that the medication is prescribed to you (for example a letter from your doctor or a copy of your prescription) if it’s both:

  • in liquid form
  • in a container larger than 100ml

Said Ms Wakefield:

I’d like them to give an assurance this won’t happen again. I want them to change procedure in the future so other children are not put at risk, as Ben was. Next time, their mistake could be fatal.

A Manchester Airport spokesman has said the incident is under investigation.

Have you or a family member ever experienced difficulties with your allergy meds when passing through airport security? How did it turn out? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of

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  1. As a mother of a child with a severe peanut allergy this is the stuff of nightmares. I’ve had to keep my child home from field trips that were in remote areas or where they were traveling for several days and have no idea what the food situation would be and their plan was simply “stop somewhere for lunch”. It’s sad that in an age where inclusivity is pushed in our faces constantly a life threatening health condition isn’t taken more seriously.

  2. As upsetting this is, the airport screener actually could have saved this kids life. Antihistamines do not stop life threatening allergic reactions only epinephrine/ adrenaline does. So by having no antihistamines it left this child with the one true medication he really needed if he had a reaction. Antihistamines mask symptoms – they do not open airways or restore blood flow to the heart or brain and really have no role in outpatient / at home use.

  3. I am OUTRAGED!!! UNACCEPTABLE Dft directions or not!!! Benedryl has chewable tablets and dissolves on contact, he could carry them instead of liquid next time, just be sure he knows how many pills equal the liquid amount. Good luck my daughter has peanut tree nut allergies and almost went to Italy thru England but cancelled due to sinus infection and fever.


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