In April 2018 after United Airlines handed out meals on an international flight from London to Chicago with choice of chicken or pasta, I told the flight attendant my daughter had a nut allergy and inquired whether the chicken contained nuts. She said, “no, you are good, we are a nut-free airline.” My 12-year old daughter suffered an allergic reaction after eating the chicken and we later learned the chicken contained almonds in the sauce. They called a doctor on board who sat with us and monitored her pulse and her symptoms eventually subsided. She had tightness in throat and chest, urge to vomit, tingly tongue and lips, mottled skin, shaky and pale. I realize it could have been a lot worse but it was terrifying
When I spoke to the flight attendant after the incident, said she thought I meant peanut allergy not tree nut allergy. My daughter is not allergic to peanuts so I never would have said peanut allergy. Fortunately, my daughter physically recovered from an extremely scary event, but I remain concerned about the lack of training and education provided to airline staff. Of two meals served, why would United Airlines chose to serve a meal containing a major allergen ground up in sauce with no visual cues or warning, and why wasn’t the flight attendant knowledgeable about the two meals she was charged with serving? It seems a minor but important change to avoid serving meals containing major allergens, or if for some reason they insist on doing so, at least provide accurate information and warning.