Flying with a food allergic child takes finesse. Some planning. Responsibility.
I fell apart in all of these areas recently and it gave me a story to share. You know, the what not to do kind of story. The post on what you should do is forthcoming; probably from someone more responsible than me.
Our flight was early in the morning, 6:00 kind of early. We arrived at O’Hare at 4:30 thinking 90 minutes would give us plenty of time to make it through security. Because, really, how many people would be at the airport at 4:30 a.m.?
Ummm…. so, apparently, ALL OF CHICAGO.
“Surely,” I thought, “we will get through security quickly and I’ll be at the gate to let the gate agent know that a child with severe nut allergies would be on the flight, and definitely early enough to pre-board to wipe down our entire area to ensure no peanut dust would be making it to Z’s hands, face, or clothes during the flight.”
As we loaded up our items to go through x-ray, I politely spoke with the TSA agent, “I’ve got medically necessary liquids and medications that I would prefer be hand inspected.”
See, we’ve not done this before. Until I recently became aware that Mylan, the producer of EpiPen, recommends a visual inspection of the auto-injector, we’ve always put our epi’s through the x-ray. This time, with this one simple request, I learned that a visual inspection is a whole different protocol, requiring swabs of all of the items that went through the x-ray already, and swabs of the person making the request… which eventually landed me in a special “quick massage” room, at 5:30; there went pre-boarding.
On the upside, I learned for all of my friends out there that if you have lotion on your hands, and you’re swabbed for the special screening through TSA, you’d likely be flagged as having explosives residue on your hands. I’m never using lotion the day of a flight again, and I invite you to make that same choice—you’re welcome.
After being cleared by the TSA via the special “treatment,” I run to my gate, it’s 5:45.
Hubby and Z had taken all of my stuff with them, belt, boarding pass, phone, I was on my own. And I couldn’t find them.
We connect and I board the plan scant minutes before they do, and quickly wipe down Z’s seat, the window, his tray, and his seat belt. We all sit down at 5:55 for our 6:00 flight.
Learn from my experience on what not to do when you fly with your food allergic child. Show up early, don’t wear lotion (if you’ll request a visual inspection of your meds), and take your belt and phone with you to the special TSA massage lounge.
I have half a mind to just use x-ray next time.
So now it’s your turn, share with us your actual, really good tips you have for your child when flying with a food allergy in the comments.