Parents of toddler who had severe allergic reaction on board SIA urge all airlines to stop serving peanuts

A screengrab from the ABC website showing Marcus with his parents Chris and Hong Daley.
PHOTO: abc.net.au

The Australian parents of a toddler who had a severe allergic reaction due to the opening of too many peanut packets on a Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight are urging all airlines to stop serving peanuts onboard.

Marcus Daley, 3, was travelling home to Melbourne from Singapore after a holiday in Thailand with his parents, Chris and Hong Daley, when he began suffering from symptoms of anaphylaxis which is a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction.

"He started vomiting, his eyes were starting to swell and he couldn't speak properly," Dr Daley, a doctor specialising in respiratory issues, said in a Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) report.

Although Marcus's parents had asked for a nut-free meal for him, they did not expect that the simultaneous opening of hundreds of other passengers' peanut packets would trigger his allergy.

While the young boy didn't actually consumed any peanuts, the mist and smell of peanuts in the cabin was reportedly strong enough to cause a reaction.

The toddler said "I don't feel good" before quickly becoming severely ill, according to the ABC report.

Luckily, the family was carrying four pens of adrenaline and other anti-allergy medication, which quickly brought the situation under control.

It was also the first time Marcus had been given adrenaline to treat his peanut allergy.

Once the danger had passed, Dr Daley decided it was safe for his son to continue on to Melbourne. It had been only less than an hour into the seven-hour flight.

Dr Daley said in the ABC report that he fears that next time, the condition may prove deadly for other airline passengers.

SIA to review serving of nuts on flights

In a statement to AsiaOne, SIA said "following the incident, we are reviewing the serving of nuts on board our flights."

The spokesperson confirmed that the incident occurred on board SQ217, operating from Singapore to Melbourne on July 12, 2017.

"As soon as our crew were made aware of the situation they immediately removed all packets of peanuts from the area around the affected passenger and his family."

"Our crew suspended the service of peanuts in the Economy class cabin for the remainder of the flight," said SIA.

Currently, SIA customers with nut allergies can request for a nut-free meal at the point of booking or at least 48 hours before their flight, says an advisory on their website.

A few airlines such as Qantas and Air New Zealand have banned peanuts from all flights, while some European companies are completely nut-free.

British Airways serves nuts, but not peanuts, and the staff can stop serving nuts in the cabin once passengers inform them of relevant allergies, which is also possible on SIA flights (we've heard).

A comment on SIA's Facebook page also pointed out a helpful experience.

Photo: Screengrab from Singapore Airlines's Facebook page.

Swiss Airlines goes a step further by asking passengers not to bring peanuts on board. Although they are unable to guarantee a nut-free meal, the airline does not serve peanuts.

On the flip side, some major airlines such as Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways do not offer nut-free flights.

Since the incident, there have been urgent calls for all airlines to consider not serving peanuts on flights, and internet opinions are divided:

Photo: Screengrab from the comments section of ABC News's Facebook article on the incident.
Photo: Screengrab from the comments section of ABC News's Facebook article on the incident.
Photo: Screengrab from the comments section of ABC News's Facebook article on the incident.
Photo: Screengrab from the comments section of ABC News's Facebook article on the incident.

thanhb@sph.com.sg

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