Nut Allergies: Both Sides of This Issue In the News

T he nut allergies debate continues on both sides, as a man was reportedly banned from flying as a passenger on one airline for life because he opened and ate a bag of nuts after repeatedly being warned three times not to do so, as a young girl traveling on the same flight suffered from a severe nut allergy…

…and all members of the family of a young girl were reportedly removed from the aircraft for their return flight home after the members of the flight crew told them it was not “a nut-free airline.”

In both cases, the young girls reportedly experienced anaphylactic shock — a serious allergic reaction which can occur suddenly and may result in the death of the victim.

According to this article written by John Dunne of the London Evening Standard, Fae Platten — who is four years old — went into anaphylactic shock and stopped breathing aboard an airplane operated by Ryanair after a passenger who was seated four rows away ignored three warnings and opened a packet of nuts.

She was revived after receiving an emergency injection; and the passenger who ignored the warnings and opened the package of nuts is now supposedly banned for life from all flights operated by Ryanair.

Katy Platten — the mother of Fae who is 30 years old and from West Bergholt in Essex — said she wanted to warn future air passengers that people with nut allergies can suffer even if they do not eat them…

…and then there is also the danger of people with nut allergies who can suffer when they do eat nuts — as in the case of another four-year-old girl whose face “blew up” and broke out in hives all over her body as well as could not breathe properly after eating a cashew nut aboard an airplane on a transatlantic flight operated by United Airlines, according to this article written by Sam Griffin of Independent.

The unidentified girl from Ireland was given adrenaline after suffering from the severe allergic reaction to the cashew nut as the aircraft returned to its origination airport of Dublin, where the girl was rushed to a children’s hospital to stay overnight.

She had recovered and was discharged from the children’s hospital in time to catch the rescheduled flight to Newark Airport, on which the airline opted not to serve any nuts aboard the aircraft; but when the family again asked employees of United Airlines not to serve nuts aboard the aircraft on the return flight back to Dublin, the response was supposedly that serving nuts aboard the aircraft during a transatlantic flight was part of the overall service provided by United Airlines and that its flights are not advertised as a “nut-free airline.”

After being asked to leave the aircraft for the flight back to Dublin, the family was accommodated in a hotel room for the night before traveling home the next day on an airplane on which nuts were not served.

The nut allergy debate has been a topic of contention for years amongst frequent fliers. I asked back on March 15, 2013 as to whether or not food allergies should determine what is served aboard airplanes.

On a broader scope, I also asked three months ago what are the solutions available to passengers who suffer allergies while traveling, as nuts are not the only items which can cause allergic reactions.

Some possible answers with potential solutions were offered in both articles — along with experiences which have happened to other people — but there are no really easy solutions: should airlines offer some flights which are free of nuts? Should passengers not eat nuts because someone who is allergic to nuts is aboard the same airplane? Should there be a nut-free zone as ordered by Air Canada back in 2010; or should nuts be banned altogether, as with cigarettes — whether traditional or electronic?

Where should the line be drawn in order to ensure that as many passengers are happy as possible? What are your thoughts?

  1. Going into anaphylactic shock because someone opened a bag of peanuts is medically impossible. The hysteria over this reminds me of the “immunizations cause autism” stories that caused so much damage.

    1. …then was that story fabricated, Glenn?

      I certainly do not want to perpetuate a myth; but I am also not a doctor nor medically trained. Could you please elaborate?

      Thank you in advance.

  2. medically impossible – clearly written by an expert – not.

    I am in my 40s and my mother is in her 60s. Both of us have been severely allergic to all nuts & certain legumes our entire lives (just pointing out to the many who believe this is a “new” thing in current generation). Only peanuts have the ability to cause anaphylaxis without contact or consumption and yes we have had it happen to us. We were hospitalized when a neighbour was BBQing and poured peanut oil on the BBQ. We have always advised airlines prior to flying (as far back as early 70s) and have never had a problem with them serving chips or crackers to replace nuts on flights. They have always been helpful and compliant. But then – we don’t live in the stupidly litigious US – where someone would likely sue because he wasn’t served his 15 grams of precious nuts and without such he cannot fly.

  3. All airlines should just not serve nuts. Aren’t many serving pretzels nowadays?

    One of my fears while travelling is a child with a nut allergy sitting at a seat where the previous person was eatings various nuts, and the tray table was not cleaned properly.

    Watching someone go into anaphalytic shock isn’t pleasant, and it is preventable.

    1. I do not particularly enjoy eating nuts and peanuts anyway; so eliminating nuts and peanuts would be just fine with me, P

  4. P I always pack antibacterial wet wipes and give the tray table, arm rests, remotes, IFE screens etc – a darn good scrub down. Also the window and frame around it.
    Actually I would do that even without my allergies as people are just plain grose !!!

  5. I know Im jumping in a little late on this conversation, but just discovered your blog. If you have an allergy to peanuts which is so severe that you will go into shock due to someone 5 rows away opening a package of nuts, the best thing IMO to do would request the airline in advance of the issue, and not when you board the flight.
    If the airline accedes to your request, great! If not, then get off the flight. I like to nibble on something with a drink while Im flying, and have the greatest empathy with your allergy. However if you have not informed the airline in advance so that they could make alternate arrangements, or, if they are unable to make alternate arrangements, then wear a hazmat suit or get off the plane.

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