• Gayle Rigione, Allergy Force CEO

The Importance of Flight Strategies


We never thought we'd be grateful for a random virus or case of food poisoning, but there was one time when my family was — versus anaphylaxis at 30,000 feet. This Flight Strategies Guide will step you through what to do and what not to do to maximize your safety when you fly with food allergies.

Our oldest son is severely allergic to five foods (a much shorter list than when he was small), though he's still anaphylactic to eggs and peanuts. He requires epinephrine at hand at all times.

man-with-suitcase-sits-waits-in-airport-for-flight-looks-at-plane-taking-off

On a family trip we were late leaving for the airport—tying up loose ends had derailed the best laid plans of mice and mom for an on-time, stress free departure.


One of the crossing-t's details we scrapped was eating before heading out to catch our flight. We were veterans (15+ years) at finding safe food on the road with food allergies, so with an overnight flight ahead, we decided to find something to eat at the airport. (In hindsight, this was not a good plan; in fact, it was a terrible plan.)


I know this may sound a bit strange, but for this particular trip, my husband and I booked separate flights on different airlines because only two of our three teenage children were with us (our third child was away on a class trip.) As booked, we would leave from different terminals on different flights that departed at roughly the same time. My daughter was my travel partner, and my allergic son travelled with his dad. We would rendezvous at the destination airport when we landed.


My daughter and I found a bite to eat in our terminal while we waited; my husband and son did the same.


During the flight, I became extremely ill. I'll spare you the graphic details, but I was a wreck by the time I deplaned and am sure the flight crew was not sorry to see me go. (I knew one poor flight attendant's shoes would need to be burned.)


When we reunited with my husband and son, to my deep dismay, I learned that my son had had the exact same experience during his flight. But, with a terrible difference. When he became ill, my son didn't know if it was an allergic reaction. Or not. His reactions usually start with severe vomiting and gastrointestinal discomfort. He recounted that "this felt kind of different, but not so different..." Therein the confusion and his anxiety had spiraled...

  • Is this just a stomach bug? Or, did I eat an allergen at the airport?

  • Would I need my EpiPen? Would my two EpiPens be enough?

  • How many more hours to go until we land?

  • Dad, am I gonna be ok?

The not knowing was excruciating for my son and husband. He did not use his epinephrine (another misstep). Nor did either of them think to alert the cabin crew (yet another misstep).


It was only when we compared sad stories in the arrivals terminal that my son 100% knew an allergic reaction wasn't the culprit — but rather some random virus or food poisoning. We were incredibly thankful it was only a random virus or food poisoning.

We learned some important food allergic life lessons on that trip that inspired us to create this Flight Strategies Guide. Perhaps the first and foremost strategy seared into our brain is that when you have food allergies, only eat tried and trusted food you bring with you...at the airport while you wait and during your flight. Epi first—Epi fast is another critical lesson indelibly imprinted in our minds, as well as the importance of keeping the flight crew informed about your status.


For ease of use, the Guide is organized into four chunks:


(Download at your convenience! )



Additional Travel Resources That Can Help


There's a lot written about traveling with food allergies. Here are some resources my family uses:

  • FAACT offers travel resources under their Education resources.

  • FARE also offers travel resources at their website.

  • Article by Hillary Tolle Carter shares practical tips for family travel with food allergies.

  • Travel blog by Allie Bahn, Miss Allergic Reactor, offers insights and serious inspiration.

  • The Allergy Travels Group of Facebook—join if you're not already a member.

  • The Allergy Force travel resources will help you stay organized and move forward with your family travel plans.

  • The Allergy Force app's free digital 'chef card' in 21 languages can help you easily communicate all your allergies to a restaurant before you go by email & text, or with a printout when you get to the restaurant.

Happy {safe} travels!



"I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list."

—Unknown


About the Author: Gayle Rigione is CEO and Co-founder of Allergy Force, the food allergy app. She’s also an allergy mom. She’s lived the heart stopping moments when her son ate the wrong thing, second guessed reactions and spent the night in the ER. These experiences inspire her to create tools for people with food allergies that make life safer, easier. Whatever you do, do it with a full heart. Audentes Fortuna Iuvat


Image Credit: Thank you to Jeshoots.com on Unsplash for use of the image



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