When David surprised me with my birthday getaway this past weekend, I was soo excited. But, all of my excitement very quickly changed to anxiety and nervousness as we sat on the plane for the first leg of our trip. It was 5am, and I realized this was the first time we had flown with Noah since he started eating real food and learned of his allergies. Man was I terrified. I felt claustrophobic and trapped, so consumed with the fear of “what if” something happened while we were in the air. This trip was a huge learning experience for traveling with an allergy kiddo. I want to give some tips to hopefully help any other terrified traveling mamas put their mind at ease (even if just a little).
|You CAN fly safely with severe allergies.|
1. Always have two epi pens (per child) easily accessible – this goes without saying since it’s rule #1 for an allergy mom. But, in the midst of packing everything but the kitchen sink when traveling, this is always the most important. You want to make sure you keep it within reach, especially on an airplane.
2. Alert the gate before even stepping onto the plane of your child’s allergies. – This was something we had no clue about! After three flights of talking with the flight attendants while we were on the plane, one of them mentioned we could tell the gate ahead of time. So, while waiting to board our last flight home, David spoke to the gate, who then had the attendants remove all nuts from the plane. Once we were on the plane waiting to taxi, the head attendant actually made an announcement that there was someone on board with a severe peanut allergy, so please don’t eat, or open anything with peanuts on the label. I was so happy I almost cried. Thank you, Delta!!
3. Bring antibacterial, wet wipes, etc. –And wipe down everything on the plane, as soon as you sit down. The arm rests, the tabletop, the windows, etc. anything and everything. Peanuts have been served on planes for so long, that you have no idea what the person on the flight before you had for lunch. There could be residue anywhere and everywhere. Be prepared. While wipes may not remove everything, it will at least give some comfort that you are doing something proactively. We did not plan accordingly for this, and I kicked myself the entire time. All we had were baby wipes, which we still used, but obviously they didn’t do nearly as much as Lysol wipes would have done.
4. Do NOT let your child crawl on the ground, touch anything on the floor, touch his/her shoes, etc. – this (hopefully) isn’t as big of a deal for older kids, but for toddlers, this is huge. And comes after a scary incident before our last flight home. Noah is going through a phase where he thinks its hysterical to just fall on the floor and crawl around. It drives me crazy, especially in a germ, peanut infested airport. Before our last flight, Noah would not stand up, because obviously it’s so much funnier to crawl around. Well, sure enough I look next to him and there are TWO PEANUTS. And peanut crumbs everywhere. My heart stopped. Did he touch them? David immediately took him to wash his hands (three times for good measure), and we went ahead and gave a dose of benadryl – just in case. This totally reinforced how crucial it is to not touch anything on the floor. Seems silly, but when chasing after an 18 month old, sometimes it’s easier to let them crawl rather than listen to them bitch about standing up. Life’s tough. But seriously, keep an close eye out for your surroundings, and don’t let your kids touch the ground, or their shoes – because Lord only knows what they’ve walked through. Gross.
5. Be an advocate for your kid and talk with other passengers- Don’t be afraid to speak up for your kid anywhere, especially an enclosed place like an airplane. Every time someone sat down near us, I asked if they had anything with peanuts. Just to give an extra warning about Noah’s allergies so other passengers would be aware. This helped give me piece of mind that no one would be eating nuts near us. On one of our flights, as a guy was putting his bag in the overhead storage, I saw him pull out a large bag of dry roasted peanuts. I immediately stopped him, asked him if he was sitting next to my husband, and when we said “yes,” I kindly asked him to put his peanuts away as my son was deathly allergic. Thank God he was cooperative and put them away instantly and said it was not a problem in the slightest. Phew. I was shaking as this was really the first time I’ve had to tell someone point blank to not eat something. The guy could have been a tool and refused, which would have gotten ugly. Mama bear would have come out – and no one wants to see that. If you do ever encounter uncooperative passengers, make sure to alert the flight attendants immediately and asked to be moved, etc. Don’t be afraid to speak up and give yourself piece of mind with your surroundings.
6. Take action – Did you know there is currently a “Airline Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act of 2015″ bill that has been introduced to the Senate?? This bill would require all aircrafts to carry at least two epi-pens, replace them upon expiration or use, and train air crewmembers on how to recognize the symptoms of an acute allergic reaction and administer an epi pen. Seriously, how awesome is this!? I truly pray this becomes law. And you can help! FARE has made it incredibly easy to reach out to your states senators, asking for their support for the bill. It took me all of 5 minutes by using their website and template! I encourage you all to take action. My one email might not get noticed, but if we all band together and ask for support, I am confident we can make this law!
Flying with an 18 month, highly allergic child was nothing short of terrifying, and exhausting. But, it was also a huge learning experience. Like anything, it will get better with more experience, and I learned many things to do differently, and a few to continue. Please share any comments on tips/tricks you’ve discovered to make your life easier in the air while dealing with allergies!