By S.Z. Berg

Relief is on the way for travelers with food intolerances and allergies. Beginning in May, Swiss International Air Lines is instituting an "allergy-friendly" policy.

"We have seen a steady increase over the past few years in our customers' need for an air travel environment that pays due regard to any allergic conditions," said Frank Maier, Swiss's head of product and services. "So we've been working with [the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation] to provide a concrete response to these demands to make everyone's air travel experience as pleasant and problem-free as possible."

The changes -- which make it the world's first airline to get a seal of approval from the foundation -- address environmental allergens and food intolerances, but not food allergies.

Gentle Soaps Added, Air Fresheners Removed

Changes will include making available gluten- and lactose-free snacks and drinks in flight and "allergy-friendly" foods in Swiss lounges in Switzerland. Passengers with food intolerances will be able to order special meals in all seating classes during long flights, but only in business class within Europe. Requests for special meals must be made at least 24 hours in advance of the scheduled departure.

In addition, changes will be made to the cabin environment, such as air filtering, gentle soaps in the lavatories and pillows stuffed with synthetic materials rather than down as an option in first and business classes. Further, the cabins will no longer have fresh flowers or air fresheners. Cabin crew members are trained to respond to allergic emergencies.

Clifford Bassett, an allergist and fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, applauds the airline's efforts in addressing the growing population of individuals with food intolerances as well as those with environmental allergies and asthma.

He notes the airline is not yet addressing the needs of the up to 5 percent of adults have food allergies. These passengers need to make an action plan with their allergist and travel with foods that are safe for them to eat, as well as two to four epinephrine auto-injectors. Passengers with airborne food allergies should request a barrier of 10 to 15 rows in front and behind their seat to reduce exposure, although ideally there would be no food allergens, he says.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Managing your Portfolio

Keeping your portfolio and financial life fit!

View Course »

Introduction to Economic Indicators

Measure the performance of the economy.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

What the hell who has all these allergies if its that bad stay home. I have to agree a crying brat is worse.

May 19 2014 at 10:12 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I have an allergy to crying, disruptive babies and kids that continually kick the back of my seat while flying between Los Angeles and Seattle. Does that mean my flight will NOT have any babies or kids ??? Yes ??? Oh Goody ! ! !

May 19 2014 at 4:33 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

I'd be happy with just a seat only half the size of an average person and legroom where i don't have to put my knees in my dimples while flying from Los Angeles to Seattle.

May 19 2014 at 4:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Really.. Are you kidding..becasue of a food allergy your going to keep ten rows front and back free from the allergy. As paying customer, I feel this is wrong. I was on a flight where the child had a peanut allergy...Guess what nobpdy in the 5 rows in fron or back were given peanuts.. and becasue this is all the airlines served..we got nothing, except the kid got plenty of snacks from her parents... They should have found another mode of travel, or find an airlines that serves different snacks...

May 19 2014 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to talitalianman's comment

I was on a plane that had a passenger with a peanut allergy and the entire plane of 290 people were banned from eating peanuts. Apparently, the excuse was: the peanut "fumes" get into the recycled air thru-out the plane. So, why doesn't the person with the allergy take a bus, train or private plane. We want our snacks ! ! ! So if that passenger was allergic to cotton or pollyester, would we have to fly naked ??? Rediculous.

May 19 2014 at 4:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is all very laughable. If this keeps up, the airlines will fold. And yes,I have allergies, including Asthma and closed airways to the lungs that I was born with. But I would never be so cocky as to state one can not fly because of an allergy. The airline industry is going to FOLD if they do not stop this nonsensense.

May 19 2014 at 2:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

beside food allergies---what about the God awful perfume and cologne people use--and the intolerable smell of the food they bring on the plane to eat--totally disgusting

May 19 2014 at 1:58 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

My first thought was it can't an American airline. I'm sad to know I was right.

May 19 2014 at 1:43 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

One of the top "Food Allergies" among adults is "SHELLFISH" ... this should not be served either as it can be dangerous through 'transference' as well as through digestion.

May 19 2014 at 12:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kathy's comment

Don't forget tree nuts. Nuts and nut extracts are hidden in so many foods.

May 19 2014 at 1:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As someone who has severe nasal allergies, getting on an airplane is a treat from my sinuses. I'm allergic to trees, grass, mold, ragweed, pollen, etc. Those particles tend to stay close to the ground. They don't rise up to 35,000 feet. So, by the time a plane lands, my sinuses are very clear, although very dry. What used to bother me about flying, tobacco smoke, is a thing of the past.

May 19 2014 at 11:18 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

@Larry, your need to have peanuts on board as a snack, could cost someone their life. Your comment proves two things, your ignorance and selfishness to others in society.

May 19 2014 at 10:24 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply