Airlines And Food Allergies Policy

Different airline companies have different policies, here are some things to think about before booking your flight.

  1. Does the company you are flying with implement a buffer zone? This is an area where the allergen is not located.
  2. Do you need medical forms?
  3. Find out what medication you can have in your hand luggage and how it should be transported.
  4. Do you need a doctors letter for the medication you are travelling with?
  5. If booking through travel agent, make sure to mention your allergy.
  6. Some airlines require you to tell gate crew and airline crew of your allergies.
  7. Does the airline make announcements about allergies, also do they keep them anonymous?
  8. Do they let minors with allergies travel alone?
  9. Some airlines will not let you board unless wearing medical ID.
  10. Airlines vary on time length of notice of your allergies, some require 48 hours while others require 2 weeks.
  11. Do they have snacks handed out that have the allergen you are allergic to?
  12. Be aware that other passengers may be allowed to bring their own snacks onto the plane.
  13. Some airline companies do not allow you to bring your food, so do check.
  14. Do they do allergen free meals? They may have to be ordered at time of purchasing flight ticket, minimum 48 hours prior of traveling.
  15. Staff are trained for anaphylaxis and allergic reactions, if you have any concerns speak to a member of staff on the plane.
  16. Medication should have medical labels that who it is prescribed to.
  17. Some airlines have special assistance coordinator that will contact the customer but do not rely on this service if provided, be proactive and contact airline.
  18. Some airlines will allow you on pre boarding so you can clean your area, enquire if your company you are flying with allow you to do this, sometimes this is called silent boarding.
  19. Different areas of the plane have different policies for food, e.g., first class so on – do not assume that the plane is totally allergen free.
  20. If you have an airborne allergy, you may be advised to book an earlier flight as the plane may be cleaned at the end of the day.
  21. Like anywhere else food can be cross contaminated/ cross contact unless prepacked.
  22. Some airlines require you tell the people around you that you have allergies, you can always a member of staff to help with this.
  23. If you have an airborne food allergy e.g., cheese, meals for other passengers will not be stopped with this allergen in.
  24. Some airline companies will not allow nuts or peanuts onboard but cannot guarantee foods has not got traces of allergen.
  25. Some airlines cannot guarantee traces of allergens in their food.
  26. Some airlines will suggest bringing your own meals.
  27. If bringing your own foods, find out if must eat or dispose before landing because other countries customs laws and regulations.
  28. Depending on severity of reaction, a diversion may occur for medical treatment. Each airline company has a different medical service professionals they contact, they will be contacted and depending on advice given from them, depends upon needed flight could be diverted for emergency on the ground treatment. Some flights may ask if anyone onboard is a medical professional to come forward.
  29. Some staff are not allowed to administer medication, but either a trained member of staff will be allowed, or a volunteer from flight who is medically trained.
  30. Some airlines will try to accommodate moving you if someone near is eating the allergen you are allergic to.
  31. If booking flight tickets online look for special service or notes box.
  32. Medical kits onboard will have adrenaline auto-injector and may have an asthma inhaler.
  33. Tell cabin crew where your adrenaline auto-injector is, it may be quicker to use yours then them getting theirs.
  34. Some airline companies might encourage you to either bring your own snacks.
  35. Menus can be regularly changed including snacks and meals.
  36. Policies change, please always check prior travelling for updated information on the airline website.
  37. Airlines cannot guarantee a total allergy free zone/ environment.
  38. Some airlines will refuse travel if you do not have your medication with you.
  39. Some airlines provide waiver forms for you to sign.
  40. Email airline to make sure medical notes are attached to your booking.
  41. Arrive early to re-confirm requests.
  42. Always leave feedback whether positive or negative, it’s always nice for the staff to get a thank you, but do not be shy to give negative feedback. Please remember you might have been lucky with your safety, but the next person might not be.  


A doctors letter what should it cover

  • The degree of the allergy.
  • Whether the passenger could have an allergic reaction through breathing the air on board (e.g., airborne dust)
  • What medication does the passenger take to control a possible allergic reaction?
  • Any other information the doctor may consider relevant.
  • If syringes are used for medication the passenger will need a letter from their medical practitioner stating that syringes are carried for the use of the passenger due to their condition. This will help the passenger through security procedures. 

(Information Source South African Airways)


Airlines lists SeatGuru

Medical authorisation for travel BSACI – Child

Medical authorisation for travel JEXT – Adult

EpiPen Travel Certificate

This information is only given as guidance and not extensive. Information to be used at individual’s responsibility. Always seek medical advice.

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