Tips for Flying with Food Allergies

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Last week I shared with you how we nearly missed a flight because of a delay going through screening.

This week, I suppose it might be helpful to share with you some of the steps I take to make flying with Z a safe experience for him. If you haven’t flown with your food-allergic child yet, hold on tight to these recommendations and know you’ll be okay!

Book with the right airline. If you haven’t booked your  tickets yet, take a moment to review this comprehensive chart from Allergic Living magazine, which shares an in-depth report on the policies 11 major airlines have for working with food allergies. Follow the guidelines of your airline’s policy to get the most accommodation for your flight.

Flying with Food AllergiesChoose an early flight. Planes, like cars, get dirtier the more they are used throughout the day. Choose an earlier flight so you can be on the plane closer to the time it’s been most thoroughly cleaned.

Request to pre-board. When we make it to the airport, my first priority is to stake out the counter to speak with the gate agent as soon as he or she arrives. At this point, I let them know I am flying with a food allergic child (specifically nut allergic because they often just don’t know what to do with the egg allergy information), and request to pre-board so I can wipe down our area.

I also request they let the flight crew know and request they make an announcement at the gate for all passengers. Depending on their mood (or policy), they may or may not follow through with these two requests.

As a side note: of course, you are your child’s advocate. But sometimes, you just can’t win with a gate agent that has already been put through the wringer by other dumb, demanding travelers. You don’t know what kind of stuff that gate agent or the flight crew has had to deal with that day, so always be kind. You’re modeling for your child advocacy, strength, and grace all in one possibly pressure-cooked situation.

Pre-board and clean to your heart’s content. Once I’ve boarded and left hubby and Z to hang in the waiting area, I take out my trusty Wet Wipes and wipe down every single surface Z will touch: window, shade, seatbelt, seat, armrest, seat back, and tray in front of him. Everything I see is wiped down, including our seats and trays.

I then place our snacks (along with all of our auto-injectors and Benadryl) in an easy-to-reach location so we can easily refuse the snacks-for-sale on the flight and just grab our own. Some of our go-to snacks include Go-Go Squeeze, my homemade granola bars, and Pirate’s Booty.

Consider adding these products to make your flight even more worry-free. Having disposable seat covers or even a filter for the air vent on hand could be especially helpful for those with contact and airborne allergies.

Once you’re all set, there’s nothing to do but enjoy the flight, take in a movie or a magazine, and wait until you reach your destination.

This isn’t a complete list of the steps you can take to make flying safer and more comfortable for a food allergic individual. If you have further recommendations, leave them in the comments; we’d love to hear your ideas for flying with food allergies.


Tiffany Self

Tiffany Self is a wife, mom to "Z", and a lover of words. In an ironic twist, she is an English class dropout who now writes for a living. Tiffany is a freelancer in the Chicago suburbs by way of Seattle and Southern Oregon. She writes about her journey of parenting a child with multiple severe food allergies, asthma, and environmental allergies. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

3 Comments to Tips for Flying with Food Allergies

  1. V Anderson

    Our son’s allergist suggested that we give him Benedryl an hour or so before boarding, to help stave off a potential peanut reaction. He slept through nearly the entire flight, which also minimized the amount of touching of gross airplane surfaces!

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