Top 6 Food Allergy-Friendly Airlines
Leave it to the Canadians to go out of their way to accommodate food allergic travelers. Canada is currently the only country that has a formal policy that requires a three-row buffer zone around a passenger with a peanut or tree nut allergy. To request a buffer, contact the Air Canada Medical Assistance Desk at least 48 hours before your flight. Other passengers in the buffer zone will be told they must not eat peanuts or tree nuts aboard the plane.
In February 2016, British Airways became the first major airline to make inflight allergy announcements part of their official policy, which is changing the game for international travelers and setting a new standard in the industry. They will now ask that those sitting near passengers with peanut allergies refrain from eating peanut products. British Airways doesn’t serve peanuts aboard flights, and their in-flight medical kits contain epinephrine auto-injectors.
When flying Delta, notify them of any allergies at least 48 hours in advance. If you’re booking online, list out allergies in the “special services” section. If a traveler is peanut allergic, they’ll refrain from serving peanut products and stock alternative snacks. The gate agents will also be notified in case you want to pre-board and wipe down the tray table, seat and arm rests. While it’s not part of their official policy, an accommodating crew may offer to create a three-row buffer zone around food allergic passengers.
JetBlue is one of our go-to airlines because it’s consistently accommodating for food allergic passengers and their families. It all begins with booking - they ask questions about allergies when you buy online so you don’t have to make a special call to a reservation agent. No peanuts are served aboard their planes, and for those wishing to wipe down their seats, pre-boarding is an option. If you give the crew enough notice, they will also create a buffer zone around a food allergic traveler — the row where he or she is seated, one row ahead and one row behind. Flights attendants do this discreetly without identifying the allergic passenger. Bonus: JetBlue stocks an epinephrine auto-injector in their medical kit.
Yes, Southwest serves peanuts, but travelers with nut allergies are still flying cross-country with great success. While making a reservation, check the box under "Assistance with Disabilities" that you "Have a peanut dust allergy." Also, get to the gate at least an hour early, fill out a “peanut dust allergy” form and make sure the flight crew gets a copy. At that point, they’ll swap out the peanut snacks for pretzels or another nut-free option. If you have a milk allergy, be aware that a substitute snack is sometimes cheese crackers. It’s up to the gate agent whether you can pre-board to wipe down your area, so the airline suggests booking the first flight of the day to get the cleanest plane possible. Since Southwest lets you choose your seats, parents can create their own buffer around a food allergic child or pick seats where they feel most comfortable.
Virgin is one of few airlines that has made inflight announcements about nut allergies part of their official policy. Once they’re informed about a nut allergy, the flight crew will get on the PA and ask that other passengers not eat products or open packages that contain nuts. While pre-boarding and buffer zones aren’t part of their policy, friendly crews are part of the company culture, so they regularly make special considerations for food allergic guests.