Q&A: WestJet and Food Allergies

in Managing Allergies, Travel & Dining
Published: December 9, 2010

AL: WestJet has offered an allergy buffer zone for a couple of years now. Does that get requested much?

RP: “Only rarely gets requested, but it’s still in place. The p.a. announcement is an enhancement, not a replacement.”

AL: What if someone wants the announcement only, not the buffer zone?

RP: “If the guest doesn’t want it, there would be no reason for us to do it.”

AL: You’re also going to have EpiPens onboard now as emergency backup auto-injectors.

RP: “We have announcements, the buffer zones, and the EpiPens will start to be loaded onto the planes this week.”

AL: Are the flight attendants being trained on the EpiPens?

RP says they are, but since there are 2,500 flight attendants that will take a while. He points out that even with an EpiPen available, the flight attendant won’t just use it – the industry protocol is to first ask if there is a doctor or nurse onboard.

RP: “It’s quite surprising how often there is a medical person onboard.” He explains that, in a medical emergency, established protocol is that all of the flight crew works together simultaneously: “One is on the phone to MedLink, one is making the announcement to find out if there’s a medical person onboard, one of them is with the guest, trying to help them as best they can, and one is talking to the captain.”

AL: Any last thoughts on food allergy accommodations?

RP: “Even though we’re never able to guarantee an allergen-free environment, we feel that doing what we’ve done in terms of making the aircraft as safe as possible, that’s simply the right thing to do.”