Lowering Risk Factors on In-Flight Reactions to Peanuts and Tree Nuts; A New Study

Posted 5.21.13 | Christine Graham-Garo


Previous to this study done this year, there had only been 3 studies regarding passenger reports of in-flight allergic reactions to peanuts and tree nuts. This study shows that the reactions are an international problem. Passengers’ nationality differentially affects what preflight notifications or in-flight preparations allergic passengers will make, however it doesn’t affect the odds of using an Epi-Pen. What is hopeful is that certain passenger initiated behaviors may reduce the odds of experiencing a reaction in flight.

The study was done to look at international in-flight experiences and determine the efficacy of certain risk-mitigated strategies. They did this my using a questionnaire through websites and social media.  The results showed that 349 reactions were reported out of 3273 respondents from 11 countries; only 13.3% received epinephrine as a treatment! Flight attendants were notified about 50% of them. Sixty nine percent reported making preflight accommodation requests, although just 55% of reactors (those who had an allergic reaction) did so versus 71.6% of nonreactors. Those who made accommodations requested peanut and tree nut-free meals, wiped their tray table, avoided airline pillows and blankets, requested buffer zone and asked other passengers to not consume peanut/tree nuts containing products. These people had significantly lower odds of reporting a reaction!

Studies like these can put hard science behind the importance of making appropriate accommodations before a flight for people with food allergies.  

What tips do you have for people living with food allergies when it comes to flights?

Safe travels this season!


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