3-year-old, Marcus, was travelling with his parents Chris and Hong Daley on Singapore Airlines flight SQ 217 from Singapore to Melbourne last Wednesday (July 12), when he had a severe allergic reaction to peanuts, mid-flight.
Strangely, the toddler hadn’t eaten any peanuts.
According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Marcus’ parents were well aware that their toddler suffered from anaphylaxis, and had made sure to order the special nut-free meal for their son. He did receive the special meal, but the potentially fatal reaction occurred when other passengers got served peanuts as snacks.
Apparently, mist and smell from the nuts filled the cabin when many different packets of peanuts were opened all at once! In just 2 minutes, little Marcus complained to his daddy that he wasn’t feeling good.
Daddy Chris Daley, who is also a doctor specialising in respiratory issues, has been quoted by ABC as saying, “With peanut dust, when you open a packet, part of what you can smell is tiny fragments of peanuts which are going up into the air. He (Marcus) started vomiting, his eyes were starting to swell and he couldn’t speak properly.”
Thankfully, the parents had remembered to carry their anti-allergy medication, and they had with them four pens of adrenaline and other medicines, which calmed down things for the little one.
It had hardly been an hour into the 7-hour flight, and one can totally empathize with the state of helplessness the family went through mid-air! We are so glad that little Marcus is fine, and reached home safe!
These parents are now requesting all airlines to stop serving food containing peanuts, to prevent future tragedies. Chris tells ABC, “If we don’t do something about it, it’s not going to be long before there are a number of fatalities in flight. Obviously we can’t body search everyone for peanuts and stop everyone bringing peanuts onto the plane.”
The family has also lodged a formal complaint with Singapore Airlines.Singapore Airlines (SIA) has since then, apologized to the family “for the distress they experienced during their flight”. It is now reviewing the serving of nuts on board its flights.
An SIA spokesman has said, “As soon as our crew were made aware of the situation they immediately removed all packets of peanuts from the area around Mr. Daley and his family. To ensure there was no further incident, our crew suspended the service of peanuts in the economy class cabin for the remainder of the flight.”
“We are in contact with Mr Daley and will be reviewing this incident.”
Meanwhile, an advisory page on SIA’s website says, “We’ll make every reasonable effort to accommodate your request for a nut-free meal. However, we’re unable to provide a nut-free cabin or guarantee an allergy-free environment on board.”
“It’s not unusual for other passengers on our flights to be served meals and snacks containing nuts or their derivatives. We also have no control over passengers consuming their own snacks or meals on board, which may contain nuts or their derivatives.”
“We request that you take every necessary precaution, bearing in mind the risk of exposure. If you have any concerns about your fitness to travel, we encourage you to share this information and discuss your travel plans with your doctor.”
“If you choose to request a nut-free meal on board our flight, please contact your travel agent or local Singapore Airlines office at least 48 hours before departure.”
While airlines like Qantas and Air New Zealand have banned peanuts from their flights, most major airlines like Emirates, Qatar Airways etc do not offer nut free flights.
Peanut allergies in children
How can we recognize that our kids are allergic to nuts, especially peanuts? Here are some common symptoms of peanut allergies:
- Hives (nettle rash) around the mouth, nose and eyes, which may spread across the body, eczema. A rash can happen when a nut or peanut comes in contact with the skin, even without eating it
- Mild swelling of the lips, eyes and face
- Runny or blocked nose, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, triggering of asthma with coughing and wheezing.
- Itchy mouth and irritated throat.
- Belly cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
Sometimes, the child may have a more severe reaction. She may be wheezing and have breathing difficulties. Her blood pressure can drop, breathing tubes can narrow, and the tongue can swell. This is known as anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, and is sudden and life-threatening.