Woman with nut allergy says she was forced to sit in plane toilet to avoid nuts during flight
A passenger with a deadly nut allergy was forced to hide in a plane bathroom after an airline crew refused to stop serving almonds, despite being informed beforehand of the risk of her going into anaphylactic shock.
Laura Merry, a 25-year-old teacher from East Sussex, England, was travelling to Australia to visit her sister with Qantas Airways, and had made the airline aware of her severe allergy months before.
However, when she boarded the flight on March 3, she was informed by staff that there would be almond slices on board, with the cabin manager also refusing to make an announcement to passengers to explain the situation.
Talking to Sun Online Travel, Merry explained: "Qantas Australia were made aware of my nut allergy months before my booking and I had written documents to confirm that they would not serve nuts on board. However, when I boarded on March 3, the cabin manager's attitude toward my allergy was awful. She claimed she had no notes on my allergy and it was too late to make any requests. She refused to make an announcement to passengers about my allergy too."
"She also informed me all 160 passengers would be served complimentary almond slices on my flight. I asked if this could not happen on my flight as it was only an hour long and the snacks are just complimentary and not an essential meal they had paid for. But she refused and said these complimentary snacks are part of their policy."
According to Merry, the cabin manager then called the airport manager and the pair advised her to not board the hour-long flight. When the 25-year-old insisted she had to take the journey, they gave her a mask to wear that Merry claims "wouldn't prevent an allergic reaction."
In order to attempt to escape people eating nuts around her, she went to sit in the toilet. The experience has left her dreading her next flight with Qantas Australia; she has two more flights booked with them in the next two months.
"Prior to this horrible flight I had an amazing long-haul flight with British Airways who happily did not serve any nut snacks on board and made two announcements about my allergy," she said. "Seeing so many young people die from nut allergies last year is terrifying and should be a sign that some procedures need to change."
A Qantas spokesperson confirmed to Sun Travel Online that they would be getting in touch with Laura ahead of her next flight. They also claimed they couldn't always "cater to everyone’s requirements", stating:
"Qantas is aware of the challenges faced by allergy sufferers and take steps to reduce the risk for many of our customers particularly exposure to peanuts but as there are a wide variety of allergies it’s not possible to cater to everyone’s requirements. As is the case with other forms of transport - like buses and trains – and other public places we can’t guarantee a completely nut free environment."
The airline's reaction to Merry's nut allergy caused outrage on social media. When the teacher posted about the incident, many people took to the comment section to express their disgust, with one writing: "There is no need to serve nuts on any airline but to treat someone like this is appalling @Qantas."
Another added: "Truly shocking customer service from Qantas. Nut allergy is a serious (sometimes fatal) medical condition and not the latest trendy lifestyle choice. So sad that you were treated this way, but as long as the other passengers enjoyed their almond slice."