An allergy specialist says that airlines are putting people at risk by failing to account for the needs of passengers with peanut allergies.
Dr. Jane Lucas, a respiratory and allergy specialist at Southampton General Hospital, said flights represent a significant danger to allergy sufferers because airlines provide inconsistent information and have inconsistent policies. She called on them to take more responsibility for their customers’ safety.
She spoke out following the recent publication of a study in the journal Clinical and Translational Allergy which looked at the travel experiences of 32 people with a peanut or other nut allergy. One received a walnut salad after informing the crew of an allergy; several others experienced similar close-calls while in the air.
Passengers at Risk Despite Efforts to Remain Safe
Dr. Lucas commented:
“This study demonstrates that, despite nut allergic individuals taking extremely sensible steps to remain safe, airlines are consistently putting lives at risk and are yet to make any significant steps towards taking this risk seriously. It is simply appalling and unacceptable to see the level of variability between airlines, and even on different flights within the same airline, and it is time the travel industry took responsibility for the safety of their customers and developed a consistent, joint approach.”
Study co-author Hazel Gowland of the organization Allergy Action said:
“Inconsistency is a problem and it is going to take a complete and independent overhaul to overcome it. Policies available or explained to staff may not be implemented in practice, special meals are often not available or suitable for the particular passenger and flight crews don’t always remember or implement the company’s best practice.”
Study lead Julie Barnett, a professor in health research at Brunel University, concluded:
“Such inconsistent practice on the part of airlines undermines the best efforts of individuals to manage the risk, so it is vital we see the development of a consistent and helpful approach which food allergic passengers can trust and rely on.”