For those with severe food allergies, flying can be a stressful process. Here are some helpful tips to avoid the stress and ensure that you get to your vacation destination safely:

1. Consult your doctor.
It is very important that you notify your primary healthcare provider or allergist about any plans you have to travel so that you can get the advice you need. Come with a list of any and all questions you might have and make sure to ask what would happen in the case of an emergency.

2. Bring any medications you might need on the flight.
Bring any medication that you feel you might need, including antihistamines and epinephrine auto-injectors. Also, it is good to bring a written emergency plan with you so that others can know what to do if you have a reaction. Finally, consider wearing medical identification jewelry, which can help tell others what is going on if you do experience a reaction on the flight.

3. Bring your own food.
Some airlines will agree to offer peanut-free meals. However, bringing your own food can help to make you more comfortable and less stressed out.

4. Wipe down your seat and tray with antibacterial wipes and bring your own blanket and pillow.
While unlikely, it is possible that allergens could be present from the previous flight.

5. Notify the airline ahead of time about your allergy.
Make sure you call to notify the airline about your condition well in advance and also call the day of your flight to confirm. Make sure to inform any and all persons who may need to know about your condition, including your travel agent, the airline customer service department, the flight cabin crew and those at the check-in desk. Many airlines will be accommodating and will agree to not serve peanuts, while others will create a “buffer zone,” making sure that the few rows surrounding you are peanut-free. If an airline agrees to not serve peanuts on board, try to get written confirmation.

6. Ask the airline if they would agree to make an in-flight announcement.

It never hurts to ask! There is no way for the airline to control what foods passengers bring with them on the flight. However, you can ask that the airline make an in-flight announcement to let other passengers know that there is a passenger with a severe allergy on the plane and ask if they could please refrain from eating for the duration of the flight. Also, avoid using the phrase “peanut-free flight.” Airlines cannot guarantee that passengers won’t bring their own peanut products onboard. Instead, simply tell them you have a life-threatening allergy and ask them to do as much as they can to ensure that you are safely onboard the aircraft.

7. Fly earlier in the day.
Airplane cabins are cleaned bright and early in the morning. Throughout the day, between flights, cleaning is much less thorough. If you fly earlier, you will be exposed to fewer allergens.

8. Do your research.
Research as much as you can so that you can be as prepared as possible. Go on the airline’s website and review their policies, go on the Internet and listen to what others have encountered when they traveled, and see which airlines people with allergies recommend.

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