He has severe life threatening anaphylaxis to peanuts and his life has been saved 3 times with adrenaline injections and hospitalisation when he has eaten peanut products.
In an enclosed space like an airplane, airborne peanut particles can trigger a reaction in my child. This has happened to him at parties, near peanut roasting stalls etc. He cannot even enter a Thai or Chinese restaurant. In normal circumstances, he can leave the area and take antihistamines, and the airborne reaction will subside. This is NOT POSSIBLE ON A PLANE! When we arrived at the check in desk, I completed the handover form. His severe allergy was noted by the staff. They assured me that the chaperone would take good care of him and make the flight crew aware of the severity of his allergy.
His allergy was put onto the passenger manifest list. I made it very clear that they would need to make an on board announcement requesting that noone eat any peanut based products on board.
The staff reassured me that they do not serve peanuts on board, but then agreed that an announcement would be sensible given that his allergy is airborne.
When I handed over to the chaperone, I showed her his medication (he carries 2 auto adrenaline injectors at all times), medical letters and stressed the importance of making an on board announcement for his safety. She assured me this would happen, and told me that there was another peanut allergic child in the UM (Unaccompanied Minor) group of 6 on the flight. We said goodbye, and he departed with the chaperone for security and the flight at about 1425.
As the flight was about to depart, I received a text message from my son at 1514
“The plane is taking off in 30 mins. They have not made an announcement”
I dashed to the Skyflyer Solo desk. I immediately spoke to the agent. She has a peanut allergy and immediately sprung into action. No nuts would be served on the plane, but she would call the ground crew to ask for an announcement to be made. She departed to make a phone call.
I texted my son and told him to stay calm and to ask the attendant for an announcement to be made. I was dealing with it at my end. His text “Thank God. I’ve told the captain that it is airborne but he said that he couldn’t ‘guarantee’ that all the foods were nut free” This is of no use to him. He had his own food to eat on the plane. Then he texted me again “Still no announcement”
I was very worried, the manager on duty had arrived He said I was not to worry, I explained that it was extremely important that they make the announcement, that my son was distressed and worried. It was not a difficult request to get the on board crew to ask passengers not to eat any peanut products in the plane. I took a few minutes to persuade him of the severity of the situation. Initially, he did not take my comment seriously. Eventually, I made the analogy of taking a snake on a plane. Peanuts to my son are like a snakebite. Would he allow a passenger to take a deadly snake on board and take the chance that it did not bite? He eventually disappeared to make another phone call. I was angry and felt helpless. My son’s phone had been switched off.
The manager returned, he assured me that he had somehow communicated with the cabin crew and that an announcement would be made.
Either he was lying or they were. An hour and a half later, the flight landed. My son was met and handed over to our friends in France safely. He phoned me. “Mummy, they never made the announcement. I was really worried. They just kept telling me it ‘wasn’t standard procedure.”
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE???
Luckily, no one opened a bag of peanuts in that plane. Luckily, he arrived safely. Luckily, I am not having to fly to France to collect a sick child from a hospital in Marseille.
LUCK IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
They promised to look after my child, and they did not. I would like to meet that pilot and show him a video of what happens to a person in anaphylactic shock. I would like to meet that stewardess who palms off a frightened child with some ‘computer says no’ attitude.
1. I would like British Airways to make a personal apology to my son, with some sort of reassurance in person that this will never happen again. He feels that his life was threatened, and he spent 1.5 hours in a hell of anxiety and worry WITH NO ADULT TO REASSURE HIM.
2. I would like on board announcements regarding nut allergy on British Airways flights to be standard as they are on Easyjet and Ryanair flights.
3. I would like all British Airways staff to receive staff training on what life threatening peanut allergy means.