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Airline policies for passengers with nut allergies flying from Melbourne Airport

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Australian flights carry 90 million passengers each year.1 About 1–2% of passengers have documented food allergies, of whom 2–10% report having experienced allergic reactions during air travel.2,3

Peanut and tree nut allergies are among the most serious of food allergies, and typically persist for life.4 The cornerstone of managing a food allergy is strict avoidance of the allergen. Should anaphylaxis occur, an intramuscular adrenaline injection may be life-saving.

During June and July 2015, we conducted a telephone and website survey of all domestic and international airlines that fly from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport to assess public access to airline nut allergy policies, the availability of nut-free meals and the ability to restrict the distribution of packaged nuts, and the in-flight availability of emergency adrenaline.

Of 33 airlines, 20 (61%) had accessible telephone information about a nut allergy policy, and this information was published on the websites of 20 airlines (61%). Telephone and website advice was discordant for three airlines, in that the customer service representatives advised that all nut allergies could be accommodated, but the website indicated that this applied only to peanuts.

Nine airlines (27%) offered…