Terrifying Allergy Attacks at 30,000 Feet: Nuts are to Blame

nuts allergy on planes
nuts allergy on planes

Flying? Leave your mixed nuts at home. (Photo: Thinkstock)

There are plenty of things to be nervous about when flying – turbulence, claustrophobic close quarters – and now some can add the little snack package of nuts to that list.

In two separate incidents this month, young girls went into anaphylactic shock mid-air due to severe nut allergies.

In a terrifying incident this week, 4-year-old Fae Platten stopped breathing and had to be revived with a shot from an EpiPen at 30,000 feet after a nearby passenger opened a package of nuts — despite the flight crew’s repeated warnings that there was a young passenger with extremely sensitive allergies on board.

Earlier in the month another unidentified 4-year-old girl flying from Dublin to New Jersey on United airlines went into anaphylactic shock over the Atlantic Ocean after eating a cashew, causing an emergency landing. When the child and her family were set to fly home this week, United airlines reportedly refused to accommodate a nut-free flight home and kicked the girl off the flight.

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nut allergies on plane can be deadly
nut allergies on plane can be deadly

Nut allergies can be deadly. Some people don’t even have to eat them to have a reaction. (Photo: Thinkstock)

In Fae’s case, her family, who were flying home to Dublin on Irish Ryanair when the incident occurred, said that the “incredibly selfish” passenger put little Fae’s life at risk, reported the Daily Mail.

Fae’s family had warned the crew of her strong allergy pre-flight, and they agreed not to sell peanuts during the trip and asked passengers not to open or eat any. Still, about 20 minutes into the trip, Fae’s face began to swell and blister when a man four rows away opened some nuts, according to the Daily Mail. Fae stopped breathing and passed out. Luckily, a fellow passenger was able to administer an adrenaline shot with Fae’s emergency EpiPen.

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emergency EpiPen for travel
emergency EpiPen for travel

People with nut allergies often carry emergency EpiPens, which deliver a shot of adrenaline. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Said Fae’s mom, Katy Platten: “Fae has said she never wants to go on an airplane again after what happened.”

For the other little girl, it was the first time the girl had an allergic reaction, according to the Daily Mail. The tot was given an adrenaline shot on board and the plane returned to Dublin so she could be rushed to the hospital.

When the child and her family were set to return home this week, United Airlines would not ban nuts on the flight, and asked the parents to remove their child from the flight. “A simple request seemed to turn into a big production,” the girl’s mother told the Irish Independent. “My daughter was extremely upset by the whole thing.” The family spent the night in a local hotel.

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United Airline states its policy regarding peanut allergies on its website: “Although we do not serve peanuts on our flights, it’s not possible to prevent customers from bringing food items on board that contain peanuts. For operational reasons, we cannot remove any onboard products based on individual customer requests, and we do not offer nut-free buffer zones on our aircraft.”

Despite the statement, the following day the family returned to Dublin when United reportedly agreed to nix nuts from the flight after all.

Nut and food allergies are increasingly common. According to foodallergy.org, in the U.S., food allergies affect one in every 13 children under the age of 18. Peanuts and tree nuts (like almonds and cashews) are two of a list of eight foods that make up 90 percent of food allergies. Researchers estimate 1 percent of people suffer from peanut allergies.

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