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Travel With Allergies

Airlines Release Food Allergy Policies

• Animal allergies: Air Canada for a few years kept pets out of the cabin. As of 2009, they are once again allowed in the cabin, though required to be in a carrier that fits under the seat. Pets do have to be booked onboard in advance. If you’re concerned about a pet being on your flight, check with Reservations: 1-888-247-2262.

What they serve: No snacks that contain peanuts. In business class, free almonds are given out. Snacks available for purchase from the cart include cashews, almonds and products that contain nuts.

Flight Booking: Must be done at least 48 hours in advance through the Reservations desk rather than online to receive the food allergy accommodations. Call: 1-888-247-2262, option 4.

Reactions to the Policy

Beatrice Povolo, the director of marketing and communications at Anaphylaxis Canada, said she is glad Air Canada now has a formal policy – “that’s a step in the right in direction.” But there are issues that she hopes to be able to discuss further with the airline.

“There’s the medical form, which will be problematic for many passengers, and there doesn’t seem to be any [anaphylaxis] training and education for Air Canada staff.” Of the medical form, Povolo says: “The fear would be that many may choose not to go their doctor to have it filled out. So you may have people flying with no one else knowing they are allergic. In a reaction, no one will know what to do or what the issue is.”

Cathy Reader is a Victoria mother whose daughter experienced her first reaction to cashews at 4 years of age, shortly after getting off an Air Canada flight  in 2006 (the girl had handled an empty nut wrapper in the seatback pocket). “Every little bit helps, but a buffer zone won’t prevent what happened to our daughter, for example,” she says of Air Canada’s new policy. “As long as Air Canada continues to serve cashews, we consider the risk from mess left behind from previous flights unacceptably high.”

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