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Woman with severe allergy ‘left with no choice’ but to buy every packet of peanuts on flight

‘Eurowings should be ashamed of how they handled this situation,’ says passenger

Helen Coffey
Wednesday 09 August 2023 06:14 BST
Related: How to identify a nut allergy

A woman with a severe nut allergy bought every single packet of peanuts on a Eurowings flight after she claims cabin crew “ignored” her request not to serve them.

Leah Williams, 27, said she spent £144 buying up all 48 packets of nuts onboard, costing almost three times the price of the £50 airfare she’d paid to travel from London to Dusseldorf.

Ms Williams asked flight attendants to alert other passengers to her allergy and request that they not buy or consume any nuts onboard, she told The Mirror, but crew allegedly refused.

In response, the design firm worker from Hampshire says she asked to buy every packet of nuts they had and bagged them up.

“The stewards looked at me blankly like I was crazy and said, ‘But there is a lot, we’ll have to count them all.’ I said, ‘Please do count them and I will pay for them all, seeing as you have left me with no choice,’” she said.

“Eurowings should be ashamed of how they handled this situation and for the way they made me feel.”

Ms Williams said she is requesting a refund for the nuts she purchased from the airline.

A Eurowings spokesperson told The Independent: “We are very sorry that the flight with us did not go as smoothly as planned and we regret any inconvenience this has caused Leah Williams. One thing in advance: Leah Williams was not forced to buy all packages of peanuts on board – on the contrary, our purser tried to offer her an alternative solution by informing all passengers sitting around her about Leah’s allergy. She agreed at first but then decided to still buy all the packages.”

The airline says it is “unable to guarantee that the aircraft is free of foodstuffs that may trigger an allergic reaction, such as peanuts”, because passengers are allowed to bring their own food onboard.

“As there are many causes for allergies and intolerances, it is not possible to exclude the possibility of their presence on board a plane,” the spokesperson added. “Furthermore, due to its construction (shape, air conditioning system, ventilation, etc.), it is not possible to prevent an accumulation of peanut/nut traces (e.g. residues from an earlier flight) despite regular and thorough cleaning of the aircraft.”

Passengers with allergies are advised by Eurowings to bring any medication they might need in their hand luggage, such as allergy medication and EpiPens, and inform cabin crew in advance.

“Our medically trained cabin crew always has access to medication to provide emergency medical care in the event of an intolerance or allergic shock on board,” said the spokesperson.

Airlines’ policies on allergies vary wildly depending on the carrier.

While most British airlines will now make an announcement if someone onboard has a nut allergy and request that passengers refrain from eating nuts during a flight, some Middle Eastern companies refuse to do this.

For example, Turkish Airlines has come under fire previously for removing passengers from its flights when they have a nut allergy.

It’s online policy reads: “Our snacks offered on our flights may include nuts and peanuts. If passengers with nut allergies provide information through Turkish Airlines sales channels up to 48 hours before their flight, the menus of passengers are loaded accordingly. However, there will be no changes to the menus of other passengers on board.”

Meanwhile, Emirates website states: “We can’t guarantee our meals are nut free. We serve nuts on all our flights, either as a meal ingredient or as an accompaniment to drinks. Other passengers may also bring food on board that contains nuts, and traces of nut residue could be passed on to other surfaces of the aircraft as well as through the air conditioning system. If you have a nut allergy, we recommend discussing your travel plans with your doctor before you fly.”

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