United 787 Diverts To Hawaii Over Nut Allergy

United 787 Diverts To Hawaii Over Nut Allergy

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United Airlines’ longest flight recently had an emergency that required a diversion to Hawaii…

San Francisco to Singapore flight diverts to Honolulu

On Saturday, September 3, 2022, United Airlines flight UA1 was scheduled to operate from San Francisco (SFO) to Singapore (SIN). The particular flight was operated by a roughly five year old Boeing 787-9 with the registration code N29968. At 8,446 miles, this is currently United’s longest route, and it’s blocked at 16hr15min.

The flight took off from San Francisco at 11:47PM, a bit behind schedule. It operated as planned for around 5hr20min over the North Pacific. At that point the decision was made to divert to Honolulu Airport (HNL). There aren’t many diversion points over the Pacific, and this was the closest major airport, even though it required a 2hr40min detour, and a significant heading change.

The reason? A passenger with a nut allergy was allegedly having a reaction, and required medical assistance. The plane ended up landing in Honolulu at 4:48AM local time, just over eight hours after it departed San Francisco.

United’s diversion to Honolulu

Crew times out, what happens next?

Airline crews (both pilots and flight attendants) have maximum duty days, and can only work so many hours. When the plane landed in Honolulu, the crew had “timed out,” meaning they could no longer continue to Singapore.

United instead scheduled a flight for 11PM on Sunday, September 4, 2022, to carry passengers from Honolulu to Singapore. The flight would be operated by the same Boeing 787-9, but with the flight number UA3012. This meant that everyone would be on the ground in Honolulu for around 18 hours, giving the crew plenty of time to rest.

I haven’t seen any reports of how United did with securing hotel rooms for all passengers, though I imagine that wasn’t easy:

  • It was Labor Day Weekend, so I imagine lots of people were visiting Hawaii
  • There aren’t exactly a lot of airport hotels near Honolulu Airport, so transport is another logistical challenge
  • The airline needed hotel rooms for awkward times, as a stay from 5AM until 11PM requires rooms to be available for two nights

Anyway, the flight from Honolulu to Singapore ended up departing at 12:28AM, just under 90 minutes behind schedule. The flight then operated to Singapore in a flight time of 11hr24min, and landed at 5:53AM local time on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. For context, the flight was supposed arrive at 6:15AM the day before, so the flight was just under 24 hours delayed.

United’s Honolulu to Singapore flight

Allergies on airplanes are complicated

Some people obviously have severe nut allergies, and airlines do surprisingly little to accommodate this. While United doesn’t serve pre-packaged peanuts, the airline does have mixed nuts in business class, and doesn’t generally make any accommodations if someone reports having an allergy. Here’s United’s policy for customers with food allergies:

Due to the presence of food allergens in the processing environment and in meals and snacks served, United cannot guarantee an allergen-free meal or environment on its flights. Further, it is not possible to prevent customers from bringing food items on board that contain major food allergens including peanuts. If you have a severe food allergy and are traveling on flights between the U.S. and Canada, please notify a flight attendant on board the aircraft you request an allergy buffer zone so we can notify customers seated nearby to refrain from eating any allergen-containing products they may have brought on board.

For operational reasons, we cannot remove any onboard products based on individual customer requests, and we do not offer allergen-free buffer zones on our aircraft. Since we cannot guarantee allergen-free flights, we encourage customers to review any health concerns with their physicians prior to flying.

It’s interesting to note that Canada is the only country (at least that I know of) that has laws requiring airlines to create buffer zones around passengers with nut allergies. There’s nothing stopping an airline from voluntarily having a similar policy on all routes, but obviously most airlines just don’t care enough to do it.

Along those lines, I suppose it’s only fair that United foots the bill when someone has a severe allergic reaction that causes a diversion. I imagine this cost United a massive sum of money when all was said and done.

Bottom line

A United Airlines Boeing 787 scheduled to fly from San Francisco to Singapore had to divert to Honolulu, after a passenger had a severe allergic reaction. The plane had to make a roughly 2.5 hour detour to reach Honolulu, and due to the long flight time, the crew timed out. As a result, passengers spent the better part of a day in Hawaii, before eventually continuing to Singapore.

It seems to me like incidents like this should at least be a bit more avoidable than they are, as airlines like United make almost no effort to accommodate passengers with severe allergies.

Were any OMAAT readers on this San Francisco to Singapore flight? If so, how was the situation handled by United?

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  1. Billy Guest

    These people shouldn't be allowed to fly. Every kid in America these days has allergies to something or another. When I grew up, they didn't exist because we weren't such wimps and powered through it as babies, eventually getting over it. Allergies are overcomable but American parents now just bow down and let it ride.

    1. D Wood Guest

      I didn’t think they existed when I was growing up neither but now realise it’s nothing to do with wimping but that they simply and sadly died as babes! Unfortunately you can not “overcome” a sever allergy but have to manage it the best you can and spend their lives dodging,uncaring, nasty people who make uneducated comments, maybe they are the people who shouldn’t be allowed to fly and therefore will make a safer world for all?

  2. Chip Guest

    I cleaned the interior of commercial aircraft for 7 years. Unless there had never been a Peanut on that plane, it’s not peanut free. We had to lift every seat cushion and vacuum and wipe down the seat frame. There were peanuts everywhere. If you deathly allergic to nuts, you are NOT SAFE on a commercial aircraft. To EXPECT an airline to make promises it can’t deliver on is a bit hypocritical. UA is basically...

    I cleaned the interior of commercial aircraft for 7 years. Unless there had never been a Peanut on that plane, it’s not peanut free. We had to lift every seat cushion and vacuum and wipe down the seat frame. There were peanuts everywhere. If you deathly allergic to nuts, you are NOT SAFE on a commercial aircraft. To EXPECT an airline to make promises it can’t deliver on is a bit hypocritical. UA is basically being honest. We can’t and won’t guarantee a peanut free environment, much less control what kind of snack bar 11-F has jammed in his carry-on. So carry your epipen and expect the worst.

  3. Paul Guest

    First and foremost I respect and have syphaties to ppl. affected by any allergies..having said that.. a full secured environment against any kind of allergies during a commercial flight is almost impossible! It is up to you to decide and prepare properly in how to organise your trip without landing in the ER. You have medicines and shots to counter any allergic reactions to a full blown one.
    It is upsetting to all..either to...

    First and foremost I respect and have syphaties to ppl. affected by any allergies..having said that.. a full secured environment against any kind of allergies during a commercial flight is almost impossible! It is up to you to decide and prepare properly in how to organise your trip without landing in the ER. You have medicines and shots to counter any allergic reactions to a full blown one.
    It is upsetting to all..either to UA which has lost a lot of money or the the fellow paxs who have to endure an unwilling stayover in Hawaii. So be prepared or stay at home if you cannot gurantee yourself a safe travel and be a burden for everyone else. Thank You!

  4. Andy Guest

    Of course… but maybe…

  5. Tom_of_few_miles New Member

    > airlines do surprisingly little to accommodate this

    I agree.

    If my kids can go through 13 years of school without ever encountering a single nut (tree or pea-) during the entirety of their school days, surely you will survive your flight without being served nuts.

    Yes, there are all sorts of allergies, but nut allergies are among the most common and the most lethal. And no, EPI pens aren’t foolproof. People with such...

    > airlines do surprisingly little to accommodate this

    I agree.

    If my kids can go through 13 years of school without ever encountering a single nut (tree or pea-) during the entirety of their school days, surely you will survive your flight without being served nuts.

    Yes, there are all sorts of allergies, but nut allergies are among the most common and the most lethal. And no, EPI pens aren’t foolproof. People with such allergies can do everything right and still find themselves in life-threatening situations.

    I am shocked by the lack of empathy many commenters have shown here. (There are no significant allergies in my family, but I’d like to think that I am capable of thinking of others, too.)

    1. D Wood Guest

      So pleased to read this kind and educated reply, thank you

  6. InLA Guest

    People are constantly confusing peanuts with tree nuts. Peanuts are in the bean (legume) family, not the tree nut family. It’s weird how people with peanut allergies want tree nuts removed from their presence but not soy bean products even though they are more closely related.

  7. Jodi Guest

    I was on this flight. The passenger seemed fine - you would not have known he was having an allergic reaction, so looks like the shots the doc gave him onboard worked! The more frustrating part was when we reboarded 18 hours later at 11pm and sat at the gate for 2 hours because United's computer system rearranged all the seating, and in the 18 hours we were on the ground they couldn't figure it...

    I was on this flight. The passenger seemed fine - you would not have known he was having an allergic reaction, so looks like the shots the doc gave him onboard worked! The more frustrating part was when we reboarded 18 hours later at 11pm and sat at the gate for 2 hours because United's computer system rearranged all the seating, and in the 18 hours we were on the ground they couldn't figure it out. It's always fun to sit at the gate for 2 hours before a 12 hour flight. Love ya United. Good job.

  8. Jon Guest

    I was on this flight. There was a doctor onboard and the passenger received two shots of epinephrine (large male). When we landed he was completely fine and said he could have walked off on his own. We did not see him on the continuation flight though

  9. iamhere Guest

    Lightning 1 - Agree with this comment. There is no mention about the whether the passenger notified the airline in advance. If you notify the airline in advance there is no problem to accommodate, which is reasonable.

  10. iamhere Guest

    Perfectly reasonable. Some people claim to have such allergies even when they do not. Others just do not like the smell or taste of something but claim it is a medical issue. They would not serve anything if they had to account for EVERYONE'S allergies. Good news is the landing was in Hawaii so it was not a problem for the passengers to leave the airport.

  11. Matt Guest

    As someone who’s allergic to peanuts, contrary to Ben’s point I think it’s better that the airlines don’t accommodate nut allergies in their onboard service. Thinking about everything that goes into preparing in-flight meals and in how many locations worldwide that takes place from hundreds of contractors, any sort of guarantee would be promising something entirely out of the airline’s hands. That in turn could create a false sense of security for those with allergies...

    As someone who’s allergic to peanuts, contrary to Ben’s point I think it’s better that the airlines don’t accommodate nut allergies in their onboard service. Thinking about everything that goes into preparing in-flight meals and in how many locations worldwide that takes place from hundreds of contractors, any sort of guarantee would be promising something entirely out of the airline’s hands. That in turn could create a false sense of security for those with allergies who are less informed that just increases the number of situations like this.

    I, along with 99% of allergic travelers I know, never eat anything served onboard and always bring medication in my carry-on. When peanuts used to be more common on planes, I’d use a Clorox wipe on the seat after boarding. All very simple steps that have worked perfectly for hundreds of flights for almost 30 years. You learn quickly not to expect anything from the airlines or the traveling public (for evidence on the latter, just read through all the hacks in the comments frothing at the mouth to bring up “snowflakes”), but even without them at the end of the day incidents are pretty easily avoidable. Even with preparation though it’s always a fear something like this could happen - especially scary over oceans because you need medical treatment immediately after the medication is administered. Hope everyone involved is okay.

    1. LLLL Guest

      I would prefer if the airline made a point of requesting allergy sufferers to bring on board their own, safe food. As the meal cannot be guaranteed to be safe.

      But I also personally think that the airlines could definitely do more to avoid these types of situations. Requesting no consumption of peanuts for the flight, and serving an alternative snack is reasonable. And it's not really a hassle to most people for a few hours of flying.

    2. D Wood Guest

      So pleased to read this kind and educated reply, thank you

  12. Steven M Guest

    "Some people obviously have severe nut allergies, and airlines do surprisingly little to accommodate this."

    Sorry, but why should they? If you have a severe allergy so severe enough that a plane must be diverted if someone happens to eat something you are allergic to then please do not fly on commercial aircraft. Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.

    1. Suzie Alcatrez Guest

      PeanutS are not nuts, they are legumes.

    2. Never In Doubt Guest

      @Suzie Alcatrez,

      I believe that irrelevant pedantic objection has been made already.

    3. John Guest

      @Steven M

      I might not be as blunt as you, but I broadly agree with the sentiment. If you have a medical condition easily triggered by external factors (i.e. nut fumes/particles in tightly enclosed spaces), how dumb is it to take one of the world's looooongest flights? It's an inconvenient truth: but just because you THINK you can fly doesn't mean you SHOULD fly.

    4. greg99 Gold

      Because it is a violation of federal law for an air carrier to discriminate against persons with disabilities.

    5. Ksa Guest

      Are you suggesting serving nuts on a plane could be a violation of federal law?

    6. Sel, D. Guest

      Discrimination would be not allowing them to fly. There was categorically no discrimination here.

    7. LLLL Guest

      Where do you draw the line?

      No flying for passengers with heart conditions? What about those with epilepsy? And don't forget the elderly and frail. Is diabetes reasonable under your approach? And what about asthma?

      Perhaps you'd prefer if everybody got a fit-to-fly note from their doctor before jumping on a flight?

      There are reasonable measures that can reduce the liklihood of this allergy situation with minimal inconvenience to other passengers. That seems like the...

      Where do you draw the line?

      No flying for passengers with heart conditions? What about those with epilepsy? And don't forget the elderly and frail. Is diabetes reasonable under your approach? And what about asthma?

      Perhaps you'd prefer if everybody got a fit-to-fly note from their doctor before jumping on a flight?

      There are reasonable measures that can reduce the liklihood of this allergy situation with minimal inconvenience to other passengers. That seems like the sensible approach in my opinion, rather than preventing people with a disability (under some definitions in some geographies) from flying.

  13. Grey Gold

    The comments on here are quite nasty. We don't have enough details to know what happened how. And people don't find out they are allergic to something until they have a bad reaction. And oftentimes, it can be something they have not ever reacted to before. One of my good friends has never had any food allergies, then earlier this year, suddenly for the first time, in his 40s, had a severe reaction to soya,...

    The comments on here are quite nasty. We don't have enough details to know what happened how. And people don't find out they are allergic to something until they have a bad reaction. And oftentimes, it can be something they have not ever reacted to before. One of my good friends has never had any food allergies, then earlier this year, suddenly for the first time, in his 40s, had a severe reaction to soya, and had to be taken to hospital. And some allergies start out where they are minor, and an epi-pen is not necessary, but then get worse over time. So to be blaming the person for having a reaction just seems way out of line, as I am sure they did not want what they got...

    1. Sel, D. Guest

      This is true. I had a friend eat too much soy and then started to believe it was okay for children to attend drag shows and tip the performers.

  14. EK_engineer Guest

    Nut allergy is sadly on the increase in many 'Western' nations, particularly in young children. Compare that to underdeveloped countries where it's uncommon and where nut/legume consumption is very much higher than in western countries. I can't recall where I read this - it was probably from the Mayo Clinic - the theory is that a broader range of diet (and far less processed 'food') in developing nations which includes more nuts helps a person...

    Nut allergy is sadly on the increase in many 'Western' nations, particularly in young children. Compare that to underdeveloped countries where it's uncommon and where nut/legume consumption is very much higher than in western countries. I can't recall where I read this - it was probably from the Mayo Clinic - the theory is that a broader range of diet (and far less processed 'food') in developing nations which includes more nuts helps a person develop strong natural resistance to a wider range of allergies than their western counterpart. Despite the obvious difference in purchasing power! So glad my momma cooked 'fresh' and never served a frozen or processed meal to me as a child and made sure we ate a wide range of foods, even when we didn't 'like' it!

    1. Moe Guest

      I do not post as a health professional. I have read that Israel is doing research with introducing nut and peanut products at low levels to allergic kids. I am not sure but I believe chickpeas are related to peanuts and are a major food group in Israeli and Arab cuisine.

  15. Kev Guest

    If you have a nut allergy either fly with epinephrine or don’t fly at all. Who is being more selfish - the one. Jt allergy pax or the rest of the plane who just want to get to their destination within drama?

  16. JWags Guest

    This feels a lot like people demanding people continue masking on airlines because they are immuno-compromised or can't get vaxxed. I certainly have sympathy for them, but when something is affecting 5% of the population (usually much less like that or these specific allergies), you can't expect the greater population to be forced into behavior catering to you.

    I once had a woman in business on a flight from Tokyo to Chicago complaining that they...

    This feels a lot like people demanding people continue masking on airlines because they are immuno-compromised or can't get vaxxed. I certainly have sympathy for them, but when something is affecting 5% of the population (usually much less like that or these specific allergies), you can't expect the greater population to be forced into behavior catering to you.

    I once had a woman in business on a flight from Tokyo to Chicago complaining that they were serving raw fish and she was allergic and she "notified them" of it, so they shouldn't be. I commended the crew for not laughing in her face

    1. Tom_of_few_miles New Member

      You can get raw sushi on a plane? Sign me up!

  17. Lightning 1 Guest

    Airlines do A LOT to accommodate nut allergies. When the flight was booked the passenger should have noted that. Most do. When it is listed as an onboard allergy no nuts are boarded and all passengers are told to not take out personal nut based food.
    The author obviously blames the airline first without doing any research!

    1. Lin Guest

      You’re joking right?

  18. Steve Guest

    Houston to Sydney clocks in at 8596 air miles on U

    1. Mark Guest

      I don’t think that flight is currently operating.

  19. SMJ Guest

    How about this idea - if you have such an allergy, stay inside your bubble and don’t inconvenience other travelers. Snowflakes, of any ilk, should not be allowed on any common carrier.

  20. Donna Diamond

    It’s hard to know whether this person consumed nuts or was merely exposed in close proximity to someone who was which caused the issue. If nut allergies are as common as they appear to be, the airlines shouldn’t serve food with them. I always pack some food items in my carryon just in case the onboard offerings are lousy. I would NEVER trust a carrier if I had food allergies.

    1. Donato Guest

      What happens if someone declares an allergy to what you have prepared?

    2. Donna Diamond

      I’m not worried that my food is more allergenic than anything the airline would serve up. But in the unlikely event that someone asked me not to eat a ham and cheese sandwich, I’d be okay with that. I wouldn’t starve to death on a Transcon.

  21. Sean M. Diamond

    I've had to deal with an inflight nut allergy situation over the Sahara desert. It was a 4-year old child whose mother packed the epipen in the checked luggage and then didn't think that the meal option contained nuts even though it had a sticker saying "THIS PRODUCT MAY CONTAIN NUTS AND IS NOT CONSIDERED SUITABLE FOR THOSE WITH NUT OR SESAME ALLERGIES", but the stress of travel does strange things to people.

    Fortunately we...

    I've had to deal with an inflight nut allergy situation over the Sahara desert. It was a 4-year old child whose mother packed the epipen in the checked luggage and then didn't think that the meal option contained nuts even though it had a sticker saying "THIS PRODUCT MAY CONTAIN NUTS AND IS NOT CONSIDERED SUITABLE FOR THOSE WITH NUT OR SESAME ALLERGIES", but the stress of travel does strange things to people.

    Fortunately we had both Epipen and Hydrocortisone in our on-board medical kit, as well as a doctor who was able to administer it. The mother was actually resistant to this treatment (she was in full blown shock/panic) and instead wanted to wrap him up in blankets and sing to him, while it was clear he was gasping for breath. Accordingly, the captain had to authorise the crew to forcibly remove the child from the mother if necessary in order to administer appropriate medication. It didn't come down to that fortunately as she backed down when confronted with the threat.

    Due to our location at the time over the middle of Algeria, there really wasn't any reasonable diversion airport that could provide better medical care than we could on board. The child stabilized after 0.3mg Epinephirine, followed by 100mg Hydrocortisone intramuscular injection 60 minutes later, and we continued to final destination. Child went to sleep and woke up on landing as if nothing had happened.

    1. Sel, D. Guest

      Please don’t blame the mother this could only be the airline’s fault according to Lucky under any circumstance.

    2. Peggy Godwin Guest

      For God's sake if you have food allergies bring your own food. It is not the airlines responsibility to monitor you or your children's diet.

    3. GLCTraveler Member

      The airlines or any business CANNOT be held accountable for all food allergies and it's ultimately the person and/or guardian's responsibility to protect themselves, NOT everyone around them!!!!! Sounds like your crew did the right thing and so did the mother..... I'm glad it worked out for the best in the end.
      The flipping world needs to grow up and take responsibility for themselves and not blame others for not, period, end of story, PERIOD!!

  22. John Guest

    I wonder what was happening to the passager that required a diversion but allowed them to last 2 hours and 40 minutes until they actually landed. If they made it that long who's to say they couldn't have made it to Singapore.

    1. Paul Guest

      If the pax had multiple EpiPens, or they were in the onboard med kit, that can extend the amount of time that they avoid full-on anaphylaxis. I plan for max one hour “relief” per EpiPen. If the flight was still 9+ hours out, they made the right call since 9 hours of epinephrine injections isn’t really feasible.

    2. jetjock64 Guest

      @John - Hey genius, the pax could have been dying. Maybe pax's fault, maybe not, but the diversion was deemed necessary in the interest of saving a life. End of story.

  23. Steve Diamond

    This is hard to fathom here. I know two people who die without medical treatment or their epipens if they accidently consumed nuts. They carry them everywhere especially when travelling. Also dont get why they cant land in a major airport like this, add fuel if needed and takeoff again and be delayed by no more than 2 hours.

    1. John Guest

      It says in the article. It was one of uniteds longest flights. A crew cannot be good for a 5+hr diversion and united would have to have pilots sitting 24/7 in Honolulu waiting to fly in case something like this happens which just isn't practical.

    2. SR Guest

      It was the typhoon in SE Asia. They could not divert or hold as they are near min fuel upon arrival in Singapore. Any entities diversion causes challenges with operations and fuel. Seen it before and will see it again. Unless you can confirm from a passenger there was a problem in the cabin, my $20 bucks is on operational diversion. Just sayin from 30 yrs of experience.

  24. Aaron Guest

    Just a reminder that despite all the hoopla about not serving peanuts onboard to avoid causing allergies, the medical literature and data "have consistently shown that peanut dust does not become airborne nor does inhaling peanut butter vapors provoke a reaction, that skin contact with either form of peanut is unlikely to cause any reaction beyond local irritation that can be washed off, and lastly that surfaces (including hands) that become contaminated with peanut can...

    Just a reminder that despite all the hoopla about not serving peanuts onboard to avoid causing allergies, the medical literature and data "have consistently shown that peanut dust does not become airborne nor does inhaling peanut butter vapors provoke a reaction, that skin contact with either form of peanut is unlikely to cause any reaction beyond local irritation that can be washed off, and lastly that surfaces (including hands) that become contaminated with peanut can be easily washed off.

    That quote, by the way, is from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

    This person somehow ate peanuts or cross-contaminated food. It was not because someone near them was eating peanuts.

    https://www.aaaai.org/allergist-resources/ask-the-expert/answers/old-ask-the-experts/peanut-air-travel

    1. jetjock64 Guest

      Sorry, in shelling raw peanuts, I've seen peanut dust actually travel some before gravity took over. This might be especially the case where brisk air movement in the vicinity of opened air vents will push the dust along. I know you'r relying on reports of "experts," but I'm an eye witness.

    2. LLLL Guest

      I'm sorry, but this assertive statement is not entirely accurate as the reality is more nuanced than that.

      You will realise the limitations of the statement if you read the study that you linked more closely. They're primarily not studying inside a pressurised aircraft cabin environment. They're dealing with a de-shelling process, not via a sealed (and pressurised in the context of an aircraft cabin) bag of peanuts, they're dealing with peanuts on the...

      I'm sorry, but this assertive statement is not entirely accurate as the reality is more nuanced than that.

      You will realise the limitations of the statement if you read the study that you linked more closely. They're primarily not studying inside a pressurised aircraft cabin environment. They're dealing with a de-shelling process, not via a sealed (and pressurised in the context of an aircraft cabin) bag of peanuts, they're dealing with peanuts on the floor with sensors at the neck level and no noted HVAC airflow influence (a distance of perhaps 5-6 feet, rather than less than 2 feet at a typical mouth/nose height level for somebody sitting next to somebody eating bagged peanuts on an aircraft). The study is perhaps irrelevant for the context of airborne allergies *in an aircraft environment* due to its test procedures.

      The one study conducted in the aircraft environment actually reports the presence of Ara h 2 (common peanut allergen) in one of their sensors. (I haven't been able to access their full study to see if testing was conducted on an aircraft at ground or when pressurised at altitude, like with a real flight).

      Particulate dust of peanuts can indeed become airborne (like any other particulate matter that obeys the laws of physics) but it is heavily dependent on several factors. If the passengers were served peanuts in a sealed bag (which becomes highly pressurised due to the differential pressure inside an aircraft cabin at altitude), the release of pressure experienced by opening that bag will cause dust particles to go airborne and spread. Whether they are then sucked into the HVAC systems before interacting with a passenger is another point that heavily depends on several factors. If the peanuts are opened in the galley and served on a plate, the (potentially) airborne dust is more likely to be localised away from passengers.

      Peanut butter is almost irrelevant in this context because its viscosity impacts the liklihood of it becoming airborne. And it doesn't form dust particles, either.

      Research in the UK - as an example - disagrees with the quote that you have linked. It does, however, agree that "Non-ingestion contact, from touching nuts or inhaling airborne
      allergens (dust), is very unlikely to trigger a severe reaction"

      So I think it's a little unreasonable to call it 'hoopla'. And you cannot assert that the person definitely 'ate peanuts or cross-contaminated minated food' because you don't have enough information to make that claim and don't have solid enough sources to dismiss the airborne theory as impossible.

  25. Ross Guest

    Woman with dairy allergy died after 'vegan' Pret a Manger wrap
    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-wiltshire-62808456

  26. Justsaying Guest

    It’s the passengers fault if they have the allergy and they should be careful in what they consume. It’s not UA’s fault at all.

    1. SEAWARD50 Guest

      If I have a allergy to something is the whole world suppose to stop using this item? It's time individuals start being responsible for themselves. Would a N95 mask stop the peanut dust? I am sure this person, as we all are, should be responsible for thier own health. The airline is not at fault. The individual was!

  27. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    I would be livid. Pack appropriate medicine, wear proper equipment, inform the crew, etc. It's your health, not mine. And of your that allergic, take a boat like green activists do.

    1. Sel, D. Guest

      Please don’t insinuate that this could be the passenger’s fault in any way, or that they are responsible for themself somehow. This can only be the fault of the airline according to Lucky.

    2. tom Guest

      Totally agree. If you have any allergy, you want 300 passengers to be sensitive to your needs. But, you don't care how that impacts 300 passengers.

    3. Lightning1 Guest

      You are right Benjamin. At Delta we had passengers board the plane and tell the Lead FA of a food allergy. They then had to stop boarding, recater the plane and ask the passenger if they had all their meds. Often the meds were in checked luggage. Logic on the passengers part needs to be used.

    4. LLLL Guest

      I think that's a slightly harsh response, Benjamin.

      Many other airlines do take provisions to support flyers with severe airborne peanut allergies. United do not. Perhaps this passenger should have chosen a different airline (that would be my personal recommendation).

      But the 'it's your health, not mine' statement is a bit odd, particularly in the context of an allergy that they have no control over (which is often referred to as a disability in many...

      I think that's a slightly harsh response, Benjamin.

      Many other airlines do take provisions to support flyers with severe airborne peanut allergies. United do not. Perhaps this passenger should have chosen a different airline (that would be my personal recommendation).

      But the 'it's your health, not mine' statement is a bit odd, particularly in the context of an allergy that they have no control over (which is often referred to as a disability in many regions). Would you be equally displeased if the airline had to divert due to an obese person having a heart attack after a life of eating too many fatty foods? Or if an epileptic person has an incident? It's their health, not yours, after all.

  28. derek Guest

    "The airline needed hotel rooms for awkward times, as a stay from 5AM until 11PM requires rooms to be available for two nights"

    I wonder what the actual times of the flight. Perhaps

    4:48 am landing in HNL
    4:49 am - 6:00 am chaos on the plane, unload the sick passenger
    6:00 am - 9:00 am processing the passengers
    10:30 am - 1:00 pm bus passengers to hotels
    2:00 pm - 8:30 pm hotel stay
    8:30 pm - 9:30 pm bus passengers to the airport

  29. John Guest

    Anecdotally I was on a flight from IAD to SFO in mid-August and the passenger boarding in front of me informed the flight attendants of a severe nut allergy. They made an announcement over the PA regarding the allergy, asked passengers not to open any nuts they brought along and mentioned they wouldn't be serving any nut-based snacks. I thought it was handled super well - glad they mentioned it too, as I had pistachios...

    Anecdotally I was on a flight from IAD to SFO in mid-August and the passenger boarding in front of me informed the flight attendants of a severe nut allergy. They made an announcement over the PA regarding the allergy, asked passengers not to open any nuts they brought along and mentioned they wouldn't be serving any nut-based snacks. I thought it was handled super well - glad they mentioned it too, as I had pistachios that I brought along for my daughters and I was seated just behind the passenger in question.

    1. GLCTraveler Member

      Totally reasonable way to handle it and it was the passenger who took the responsibility for themselves!! If you have got a food allergy, say something, otherwise, you may die!!

    2. Donato Guest

      Interesting. Some of these allergic people are entitled BS artists.
      I flew B6 with my family that included my then 10 year old Autistic son. Travelling with an autistic child can be stressful and we were very prepared. We even brought and immediately gave my son snacks which included peanuts. After boarding there was a peanut allergy on board announcement. We notified the cabin crew that my son had eaten peanut candy. There was...

      Interesting. Some of these allergic people are entitled BS artists.
      I flew B6 with my family that included my then 10 year old Autistic son. Travelling with an autistic child can be stressful and we were very prepared. We even brought and immediately gave my son snacks which included peanuts. After boarding there was a peanut allergy on board announcement. We notified the cabin crew that my son had eaten peanut candy. There was talk of deplaning my family. The ultimate decision was to have my son sit in his underwear, wipe him and clothing with alcohol wipes and wrap the clothing in a sealed bag.
      It was very unpleasant, embarrassing but we had tickets and a schedule.
      The alleged allergic person was asked to remain seated till we deplaned but they laughed and walked right by us.
      Never did any JetBlue staff comment, apologize or thank us.

    3. Eeyah Guest

      This is appalling! My nephew is 10 and would be absolutely MORTIFIED to have to strip down to his underwear and sit like that for the flight! Mind you, he would probably just outright refuse to, so outside of physically restraining him to remove his clothing, this would be impossible for us. My heart hurts that your son and your family had to experience this degrading experience. They could have handled this situation better, not...

      This is appalling! My nephew is 10 and would be absolutely MORTIFIED to have to strip down to his underwear and sit like that for the flight! Mind you, he would probably just outright refuse to, so outside of physically restraining him to remove his clothing, this would be impossible for us. My heart hurts that your son and your family had to experience this degrading experience. They could have handled this situation better, not to mention, they may have deterred you and everyone else from coming forward in a similar even in future.

    4. LLLL Guest

      Which airline was that, John?

      That's a great way to handle it in my opinion. In the UK, we are very lucky that we have several airlines that are very accommodative for passengers with severe allergies. There's often a process whereby the flyer can phone the airline beforehand to let them know. They'll then load and serve an appropriate selection of non-nut snacks. And I have been on several flights where they make an announcement...

      Which airline was that, John?

      That's a great way to handle it in my opinion. In the UK, we are very lucky that we have several airlines that are very accommodative for passengers with severe allergies. There's often a process whereby the flyer can phone the airline beforehand to let them know. They'll then load and serve an appropriate selection of non-nut snacks. And I have been on several flights where they make an announcement similar to the one you highlighted. British Airways even ask customers to report any food allergies to staff before they do the meal service during the flight.

      This makes perfect sense in my opinion. It's no hassle, in my opinion, to serve something other than nuts and request no nuts for a few hours of flying. A diversion to Hawaii is, however, a significant hassle that could have been avoided with a reasonable policy like the one you've highlighted.

  30. jeffrey soule Guest

    “Nut allergies” are recent phenomena, wonder why? I doubt seriously they can be “triggered” by proximity.

    1. jetjock64 Guest

      @Jeffrey - you need to share your credentials on this with us.

  31. Sean Guest

    As parent of a nut-allergy kid, I've had to do a lot of thinking about the risks of flying with my child, and which precautions make sense or are overkill. Certainly it makes sense to be more cautious than on the ground, due to the time delay and hassle in getting you to medical care if needed. I'd love to take her on a long trip redeemed in a premium cabin, but all those mixed...

    As parent of a nut-allergy kid, I've had to do a lot of thinking about the risks of flying with my child, and which precautions make sense or are overkill. Certainly it makes sense to be more cautious than on the ground, due to the time delay and hassle in getting you to medical care if needed. I'd love to take her on a long trip redeemed in a premium cabin, but all those mixed nuts sloshing around mean that a nice all-coach JetBlue plane with no-nut snacks leaves me much less worried.
    Truthfully, you can do all the right things-only bring your own food to eat, wipe down the tray table and hands before eating, and an incident could still happen, just like any other medical emergency in-flight. And perhaps that's what happened here-certainly these types of incidents are not happening left and right all the time (I don't think). Probably the best thing the airlines can do for prevention is to clean those disgusting seats more often, so they are not all coated with nut dust and other gross stuff!

  32. Icarus Guest

    Many people say they have nut allergies and refer to peanuts, which aren’t nuts but legumes.

    It is impossible for airlines to 100% guarantee the presence of any allergens in food or presence in the cabin. Other customers taking snacks.

    If you’re that allergic, take your own food. Why just airlines and not rail companies, theatres, bus companies etc ?

    Meanwhile I hope the passenger recovered.

  33. derek Guest

    With any emergency over the Pacific, there aren't many alternatives. It's mainly SFO, SEA/YVR, ANC, HNL, CTS/NRT, GUM. The Marshall Islands is not equipped to handle anymore more than a minor scrape.

    Even if there is a doctor aboard, it's really limited to what can be done.

    I wonder if it could have been any faster for passengers to get their own hotels? It's iffy if they do because I would not be certain...

    With any emergency over the Pacific, there aren't many alternatives. It's mainly SFO, SEA/YVR, ANC, HNL, CTS/NRT, GUM. The Marshall Islands is not equipped to handle anymore more than a minor scrape.

    Even if there is a doctor aboard, it's really limited to what can be done.

    I wonder if it could have been any faster for passengers to get their own hotels? It's iffy if they do because I would not be certain if they would be notified of the new flight plans.

    I'm usually in a rush when flying but, if not, a stay in HNL would be nice.

  34. JOJO Guest

    I wish I could get any and all animals banned from a flight. I have a severe reaction to animal dander. It should not be my responsibility to protect myself from others. In fact animals should be banned from the airport 24 hours before I arrive.

    1. Icarus Guest

      What about guide dogs for the blind ?

    2. Joy Guest

      Seems to me that nut allergy person should wear a KN95 or N95. If not for Covid then for their nut allergy…it actually should be your responsibility. Wear an N95 or Kn95

  35. Jonathan Guest

    An epipen does not solve the issue. Even if it is used, it is recommended to get to a hospital immediately.

    I am very careful on airlines as I have a nut allergy and only sometimes eat airline food, even in business class.

  36. Daniel B. Guest

    Had the patient carried and used an epinephrine autoinjector such as Epipen or Auvi-Q (both come as a "two pack"), such event could have been avoided. Of course, strict food allergen avoidance should have been practiced in the first place.....

    1. Sean Guest

      Unfortunately not true, as one still needs prompt medical attention even after using an Epipen, though a two-pack of injectors would hopefully be enough to suppress a reaction long enough to get on the ground, even in this case. No pilot would continue this flight after an Epipen got used for a reaction, it probably would be the same for a diabetic incident, etc. So I think its highly likely that this allergic passenger had...

      Unfortunately not true, as one still needs prompt medical attention even after using an Epipen, though a two-pack of injectors would hopefully be enough to suppress a reaction long enough to get on the ground, even in this case. No pilot would continue this flight after an Epipen got used for a reaction, it probably would be the same for a diabetic incident, etc. So I think its highly likely that this allergic passenger had and used their Epipen, but still triggered the flight diversion.

    2. Daniel B. Guest

      As a board certified US-based allergy specialist for over 30 years with over 400 current peanut and tree nut allergic patients in my practice, and several articles published by me in the medical literature, I can tell you that using one epinephrine autoinjector typically reverses the systemic allergic reaction in about 87% of the cases. In about 13% of the cases one epi is not enough, and the use of the second epi is required...

      As a board certified US-based allergy specialist for over 30 years with over 400 current peanut and tree nut allergic patients in my practice, and several articles published by me in the medical literature, I can tell you that using one epinephrine autoinjector typically reverses the systemic allergic reaction in about 87% of the cases. In about 13% of the cases one epi is not enough, and the use of the second epi is required (into the other thigh). There is of course a chance of a so-called late phase reaction 4-6 hours later, the prevention of which is beyond the scope of this blog.
      I always educate my patients about the paramount importance of reading the label of every packaged food, not accepting foods from unknown sources, and carrying AND using the epi in case of an accidental ingestion. I do tell my patients that they can do a lot more in 30 SECONDS than any ER can do for them for long long minutes. There is a very significant underutilization of epinephrine in ERs all over the US even when the patient presents with anaphylaxis.
      Typically, when patients go to the ER after an anaphylactic reaction, they are given iv steroids, benadryl and are observed for several hours and then discharged.

    3. greg99 Gold

      My knowledge/experience with epipens is in connection with home infusions of immunoglobulins (which is obviously different), and our immunologist's direction was that if an epipen needed to be used during or following an infusion, it was mandatory that we were seen for follow-up in an ED.

      Is that typically the same with a food-related anaphylaxis? If so, that would explain the diversion decision (which presumably came from UA's medical control).

    4. RJI Guest

      Post a link to an article

    5. Ralph4878 Guest

      Epipens slow down anaphylaxis, but not enough for everyone: some folks may need another epipen 15 minutes after the first one, and that may only just stabilize them/buy them more time until paramedics arrive and can get them to a hospital. Severe food allergies are scary - I had a colleague need two pens, and she was then in the emergency room for hours as doctors hustled to save her life, all because another colleague...

      Epipens slow down anaphylaxis, but not enough for everyone: some folks may need another epipen 15 minutes after the first one, and that may only just stabilize them/buy them more time until paramedics arrive and can get them to a hospital. Severe food allergies are scary - I had a colleague need two pens, and she was then in the emergency room for hours as doctors hustled to save her life, all because another colleague cooked something with peanut oil and shared it with everyone, but did not tell her there were peanuts/peanut products used (peanuts and peanut products are not allowed in our building...that said, my allergic colleague asked about the ingredients and was assured there were no peanut products in the snack). Sometimes, folks don't know the ingredients, giving others a false sense of safety...

    6. Daniel B. Guest

      Cooking in peanut oil is an interesting issue. When peanut oil is heated, it denatures the protein, therefore it is no longer allergenic. That is why peanut allergic people can eat at Chick-fil-A, even though they use peanut oil.
      The so-called cold-pressed/unrefined peanut oil is dangerous to these peanut allergic patients.

    7. Slim Pickens Guest

      I carried an Epi pen for years when I traveled extensively for business here and abroad. I had to use one on more than one occasion. It was no one's problem but mine. There are too many self serving snowflakes now.

    8. Joy Guest

      You must receive medical attention after Epi injection. Cannot just take injection and move on.

  37. tom Guest

    I think most passengers are tired of these "nut" scenarios. Talk to your doctor before flying, wear a Hazmat suite or something, but allow the rest of us to get to our schedule on time.

    1. DenB Diamond

      If this is right, I'm in the minority. I'm not "tired" of the "scenarios". An airplane is a confined space, all of which is shared. this applies to overhead bins, aisles, lavatories and the sir all passengers breathe. it should be a no-brainer for a carrier to identify the 3 most common food allergens and ban them onboard. Not much is lost if 300 people don't have access to their precious peanuts for half a day.

    2. DenB Diamond

      I just noticed 3 typos, all of which I've edited, to avoid embarrassment. If only...

    3. derek Guest

      How effective are N95 masks for those with nut allergies?

    4. Joy Guest

      Very effective. This is what they must do.

    5. Icarus Guest

      It’s impossible to guarantee and lead to a false sense of security.

      Furthermore why should anyone be told not to bring their own snacks which may contain nuts and legumes.

      If someone with an allergy can bring their own food, I can also bring my own with nuts.

    6. DLPTATL Diamond

      @DenB - Banning the three most common food allergens would be a nightmare for airline caterers and virtually impossible to control for pax bringing on their own food. Eggs, peanuts, and soy are listed as the three most common allergens, the first and the last are in virtually everything with more than 3 ingredients. If you're curious number 4 on are: wheat, tree nuts, fish, shellfish...

      I'm Gluten Free and have had many miserable days...

      @DenB - Banning the three most common food allergens would be a nightmare for airline caterers and virtually impossible to control for pax bringing on their own food. Eggs, peanuts, and soy are listed as the three most common allergens, the first and the last are in virtually everything with more than 3 ingredients. If you're curious number 4 on are: wheat, tree nuts, fish, shellfish...

      I'm Gluten Free and have had many miserable days after being served something "GF" that turns out to be anything but. I'm not lobbying for no gluten on planes because it's my problem.

    7. lasdiner Guest

      A not so drastic accommodation in between to allow 300 people to go on with their life and preferences while protecting the rest is the solution. Several studies in peer reviewed journals fail to identify a trigger for such allergies determined without contact or ingestion of the allergens, and even if inhalation is a possibility, a buffer of few seats and an N95 mask for once worn for a real likelihood of protection should be...

      A not so drastic accommodation in between to allow 300 people to go on with their life and preferences while protecting the rest is the solution. Several studies in peer reviewed journals fail to identify a trigger for such allergies determined without contact or ingestion of the allergens, and even if inhalation is a possibility, a buffer of few seats and an N95 mask for once worn for a real likelihood of protection should be reasonably sufficient without prohibiting anything, or imposing anything on the remaining of the 300 pax.
      I’d like to add that as one of the 300 pax who happens to have a medical degree, I get somewhat on high alert upon boarding a long haul and hearing about someone with such a very serious allergy. I can’t help but expecting some medical incident or serious discussion that will occur at some point and myself or a colleague would be needed to help. It is my mission and my job and i’ve done it more than a dozen times in various scenarios, but i must say I don’t like it and i even find it unfair to the health professionals

    8. Dealgrabber Guest

      This is most dumb and insensitive comment. One will only understand how severe allergy can get when you or your child will have nut allergies. People like you should just rent a business jet if you cant show compassion to people with allergy.

    9. tom Guest

      Hmmh..the nut allergy is affecting 300 passengers who were delayed 24 hours and the airline which incurred significant cost with the diversion. I wonder who should be taking the business jet.

    10. vtvoyager787 Guest

      To me, this is an issue of basic compassion for another human being. Of course it is inconvenient and even annoying to be asked not to eat whatever allergen during a flight but is it really too much of an inconvenience if it means making the environment safer for someone with a life-threatening allergy?

    11. Howard Miller Guest

      Yeah, empathy & common courtesy would be nice - but, alas, is a trait some lack.

      No doubt, these are the same people who’ll scream bloody hell if someone with a peanut allergy pulled a stinky tuna fish sandwich they made before leaving for the airport out of their carryon bag to eat instead of taking a chance on food prepared at the airport or by the airline’s caterer!

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Sean M. Diamond

I've had to deal with an inflight nut allergy situation over the Sahara desert. It was a 4-year old child whose mother packed the epipen in the checked luggage and then didn't think that the meal option contained nuts even though it had a sticker saying "THIS PRODUCT MAY CONTAIN NUTS AND IS NOT CONSIDERED SUITABLE FOR THOSE WITH NUT OR SESAME ALLERGIES", but the stress of travel does strange things to people. Fortunately we had both Epipen and Hydrocortisone in our on-board medical kit, as well as a doctor who was able to administer it. The mother was actually resistant to this treatment (she was in full blown shock/panic) and instead wanted to wrap him up in blankets and sing to him, while it was clear he was gasping for breath. Accordingly, the captain had to authorise the crew to forcibly remove the child from the mother if necessary in order to administer appropriate medication. It didn't come down to that fortunately as she backed down when confronted with the threat. Due to our location at the time over the middle of Algeria, there really wasn't any reasonable diversion airport that could provide better medical care than we could on board. The child stabilized after 0.3mg Epinephirine, followed by 100mg Hydrocortisone intramuscular injection 60 minutes later, and we continued to final destination. Child went to sleep and woke up on landing as if nothing had happened.

8
Aaron Guest

Just a reminder that despite all the hoopla about not serving peanuts onboard to avoid causing allergies, the medical literature and data "have consistently shown that peanut dust does not become airborne nor does inhaling peanut butter vapors provoke a reaction, that skin contact with either form of peanut is unlikely to cause any reaction beyond local irritation that can be washed off, and lastly that surfaces (including hands) that become contaminated with peanut can be easily washed off. That quote, by the way, is from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. This person somehow ate peanuts or cross-contaminated food. It was not because someone near them was eating peanuts. https://www.aaaai.org/allergist-resources/ask-the-expert/answers/old-ask-the-experts/peanut-air-travel

7
Daniel B. Guest

As a board certified US-based allergy specialist for over 30 years with over 400 current peanut and tree nut allergic patients in my practice, and several articles published by me in the medical literature, I can tell you that using one epinephrine autoinjector typically reverses the systemic allergic reaction in about 87% of the cases. In about 13% of the cases one epi is not enough, and the use of the second epi is required (into the other thigh). There is of course a chance of a so-called late phase reaction 4-6 hours later, the prevention of which is beyond the scope of this blog. I always educate my patients about the paramount importance of reading the label of every packaged food, not accepting foods from unknown sources, and carrying AND using the epi in case of an accidental ingestion. I do tell my patients that they can do a lot more in 30 SECONDS than any ER can do for them for long long minutes. There is a very significant underutilization of epinephrine in ERs all over the US even when the patient presents with anaphylaxis. Typically, when patients go to the ER after an anaphylactic reaction, they are given iv steroids, benadryl and are observed for several hours and then discharged.

7
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