After reading this article, I have to admit I was once again in despair about the heavy burden of food allergy parenting. Now, I know I should not complain, as we have been very lucky and things could be so much worse. But every once in a while, something like this happens and I just lose it for a minute.
Please do click through and read the Daily Mail’s article but the here’s the gist. A British family with a peanut allergic child traveled from England to the U.S. over the holidays. In theory, they did everything right by booking through a travel agent who alerted the airline about the allergy and confirming with airline representatives themselves several weeks in advance. They had a successful trip to their destination and a great vacation. However, on their return trip, when asking the gate agent to make an announcement on the plane requesting that other passengers refrain from eating nuts, they were refused entrance on the plane. Their tickets were cancelled and they were driven to a hotel. After two days, and a lot of stressful rearrangements, they were able to board a flight home.
Here’s what really gets me- this poor child was so distraught after his family’s ordeal that when a passenger opened a packet of nuts on the airplane, he had a panic attack. I can imagine just how terrified this child must have been to react in such a way. As his mother states, “My son has been left with a complex about his allergies following the ordeal, despite us always telling him it would not affect his life.” I can’t blame him- I think any of us would likely feel the same way.
This is exactly why we haven’t flown with our sons yet. This story validates my worst fears. Despite air travel pro tips from friends like Tiffany, we’re a road tripping family for exactly this reason.
When the stakes are so high, why is one person’s right to eat nuts valued more highly than another person’s right to breathe freely and live? Does it make sense to ban allergens from enclosed public spaces such as planes, trains, and subways? Where do you draw the line?
I try so hard not to let my fears of a reaction cloud my son’s experiences, but I think he picks up on it. He’s a lot like me, naturally a bit nervous at new experiences. So much of this food allergy life is new to us, even after six years. We’re working through it together.
I wish this child peace. After this harrowing experience, I hope his parents will consider bringing him to a therapist to talk through his feelings.
And for the rest of us, I hope there will be a sensitive food allergy solution to air travel someday soon. Until then, I’ll see you on the road!