THE family of an Irish child - who was given adrenaline onboard a transatlantic flight earlier this month after suffering an allergic reaction - were removed from their return flight home after the cabin crew told them it was not 'a nut-free airline'.
The family involved, from Dublin, were travelling to New Jersey with their four-year-old daughter as well as the child's aunt and elderly grandparents on August 5 when the incident occurred.
The child's mother, who does not wish to be named, yesterday told the Irish Independent how her daughter went into anaphylactic shock on the United Airlines flight after eating some nuts served on the flight.
"About two hours out over the Atlantic they served a small bowl of cashew nuts and another mix of nuts. She took one cashew nut and within 30 seconds to a minute, her face blew up and she broke out in hives all over her body. She couldn't breathe properly either.
"They put out a call for medical personnel and thankfully there happened to be an allergy specialist from Houston, Texas on board the flight. She came to the front and gave her the adrenaline from a vial."
The flight returned to Dublin and the little girl, who had never suffered an allergic reaction before, was rushed to Temple Street Children's Hospital. By the next morning, she had recovered and was discharged in time to make the rescheduled flight to Newark Airport, on which the airline opted not to serve any nuts. On the return flight back to Dublin after their holiday, the family again asked the airline not to serve nuts, the child's mother explained.
"But that seemed to be a big issue because this was part of the United service and they said they didn't advertise themselves as a 'nut-free airline'," she said.
"We were only going to discommode 10 other people because we were all in first class. They asked the other people but then a simple request seemed to turn into a big production. "
The couple and their child were then asked to get off the flight and were accommodated in a hotel for the night while the child's aunt and grandparents travelled home.
The couple flew home the following morning after the airline agreed not to serve any nuts.
The mother, who wants to highlight the danger of food containing nuts, said she was annoyed at how the situation was handled.
"My daughter was extremely upset by the whole thing, as was I. My husband was angry with how quickly the whole thing escalated from what seemed like a simple request," she said.
United Airlines would not comment on why the family were removed from the flight but said in a statement that it was airline policy not to serve peanuts, but added that some foods might "include nuts or contain trace amounts of nut ingredients".
"Although we do not serve peanuts on our flights, it's not possible to prevent customers from bringing food items on board that contain peanuts," the statement said.