Blog post, Holiday & vacation

Food allergy: Best and worst US airlines

But what makes an airline allergy-friendly?

allergy friendly airlines
There are some best practices that indicate how willing an airline is to assist allergy sufferers, including:

  • Allowing preboarding for allergy patients so they can wipe down their seat and surrounding area
  • Allowing passengers to bring their own food, especially on long-haul flights
  • Educating flight crew about the difference between food allergies (risk of anaphylaxis) and food intolerances (e.g., lactose or gluten free meals)
  • Carrying emergency doses of epinephrine (EpiPen) on board and
  • Instructing staff how to use administer emergency medicine
  • Offering a variety of snacks with limited cross-contact
  • Awareness of crew about food allergy policies

There is one thing all US based airlines have in common: the law prohibits them to deny allergic passengers to fly with them. However, safety measures and allergy policies in place differ a lot between airlines.

4 most allergy-friendly domestic airlines

Delta airlines

  • Will not serve peanuts 48 hours before allergy patient boards if notified in advance
  • Will advise catering to board additional non-peanut snacks
  • Allow preboarding and wiping down the seat
  • Display list of meals with ingredients on website
  • Crew is accommodating and will make courtesy announcements

Southwest airlines

  • Do not serve peanuts (but snacks may be packaged in the same facility as peanuts)
  • Allow preboarding and wiping down the seat
  • Crew is accommodating and will make courtesy announcements
  • Will print allergy notices on your ticket

JetBlue airlines

  • Do not serve peanuts (but serve tree nuts and food items that may be cross contaminated with peanuts)
  • Provide snack menu free of top 9 allergens
  • All crew members are trained in administering epinephrine (EpiPen)
  • Crew will create allergy-free buffer zone for allergy patients
  • Crew is accommodating and will make courtesy announcements
  • Offer full refund for passengers whose allergies make it impossible to travel with them

Alaska airlines

  • Crew is accommodating if notified in advance
  • Guarantee that passengers can wipe down their seat
  • Will move passengers to new seats if allergens are eaten close to them
  • Allow allergy patients to bring their own food
  • Will ask passengers to refrain from eating allergens around allergy patients
  • Carry EpiPens on board

3 worst domestic airlines for food allergy patients

American Airlines

  • Do not offer allergy-free buffer zones for allergy patients
  • Will not ask other passengers to refrain from eating allergens around allergy patients
  • Do not offer special meals for allergy patients (only for intolerances)
  • Acknowledge peanut allergies, but serve other nuts that may be cross contaminated with peanuts
  • Allow preboarding and wiping down the seat

United Airlines

  • Do not serve pre-packaged peanuts, but meals and snacks can include major food allergens
  • Do not create allergy-free buffer zones for allergy patients
  • Will not ask other passengers to refrain from eating allergens around allergy patients
  • Do not guarantee a clean area
  • Will serve snacks with allergens in them

Frontier Airlines

  • Explicitly state they cannot guarantee an allergy-friendly environment
  • Will not ask other passengers to refrain from eating allergens around allergy patients

Little information on allergy policies

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