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Airplane Travel With Food Allergies

Posted Nov 29 2010 12:00am
We flew cross-country over the Thanksgiving holiday. We were booked on 3 Southwest flights for our trip. Southwest does offer peanuts for their in-flight snack, but will make a substitution upon request. As we were flying with dairy, egg, peanut and tree nut allergies, we at least take advantage of their "no-peanut snack", providing some sense of security.

For those of you who've never flown Southwest with a peanut allergy, here's what to do
  • Call Southwest a day or two before the flight to alert them of the peanut allergy. If booking your tickets online, on the "Southwest Airlines Payment and Passenger Information" screen, click on the link to "Add/Edit Disability Assistance Options."you can make note of the allergy. I'd still call prior to the flight.
  • Speak with a Customer Service Agent (CSA) upon arrival at the airport. You will then be given a "Peanut Dust Allergy Document" and the CSA will alert the Boarding Agent to stock the plane with an alternative snack.
  • This "Peanut Dust Allergy Document" entitles the family to pre-board, allowing a family member to wipe down a seating area if necessary.
  • Upon boarding, the Peanut Dust Allergy Document is handed over to the on-flight crew.
That's it. Easy!

We were on 3 flights and the procedure worked perfectly. There were snack options for everyone ranging from pretzels to crackers to Lorna Doone® cookies, Ritz® cheese crackers and pita chips. Several of these snacks contained my child's allergens,  but we read labels and chose accordingly. I know many food allergic flyers choose not to eat anything in-flight, and that's fine too. Of course one can always bring safe snacks from home.

I like the way Southwest handles peanut allergies. It saves me the worry of 150 people opening packets of peanuts and releasing peanut dust all over the cabin and I think most people don't even notice the substitution. When the man in the row in front of us requested peanuts for his snack, the flight attendant said, "We're a peanut-free flight, but ask me when you're getting off the plane and I'll give you a complimentary pack of peanuts. Would you like crackers or cookies now?".

Yeah Southwest!
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