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07th Aug 2023

Woman ‘forced’ to buy every bag of nuts on UK flight

Charlie Herbert

Woman 'forced' to buy every bag of nuts on UK flight

She says the airline should be ‘ashamed’

A woman has told of how she ‘felt forced’ to purchase every packet of peanuts on a flight because cabin crew ‘ignored her allergy.’

Leah Williams, 27, has had a severe peanut allergy all her life, and had asked staff on the Eurowings flight to announce her allergy to fellow passengers.

Williams requested that others on the flight from Dusseldorf to London do not eat or purchase any peanuts on the plane.

But she told the Mirror that the crew ignored her plea, leaving her with no choice other than to buy all 48 packets of the nuts on board, costing her almost £150, nearly three times her £50 airfare.

Williams said: “The stewards looked at me blankly like I was crazy and said, ‘But there is a lot, we’ll have to count them all.’

“I said ‘Please do count them and I will pay for them all, seeing as you have left me with no choice.’”

The nuts were then all placed in a plastic bag at the front of the cabin.

Williams added that staff even asked her if she “wanted to take the peanuts,” to which she replied “obviously not.”

She is now asking Eurowings to refund her for the nuts, saying they should be “ashamed.”

The incident took place on a Eurowings flight (Getty)

Last year, 14-year-old Poppy Jones suffered a severe allergic reaction on British Airways flight after a passenger opened a packet of peanuts on the plane. She required oxygen and two EpiPen shots, before being rushed to hospital when the plane eventually landed at Gatwick.

And the issue of food allergies made national headlines in 2016 when Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, tragically died after suffering an allergic reaction to the sesame seeds on a Pret a Manger baguette.

Since then, airlines have become more aware of food allergies, with BA, easyJet and Ryanair all deciding to stop selling nuts on flights and asking passengers to avoid eating them if an allergy sufferer is on board.

In a statement in response to Williams’ claims, a spokesperson for Eurowings told JOE: “We are very sorry that the flight with us did not go as smoothly as planned and we regret any inconvenience this has caused Leah Williams.

“One thing in advance: Leah Williams was not forced to buy all packages of peanuts on board – on the contrary, our purser tried to offer her an alternative solution by informing all passengers sitting around her about Leah’s allergy. She agreed at first but then decided to still buy all the packages.

The spokesperson continued: “Eurowings operates more than 600 flights a day, carrying more than 80,000 passengers daily. As there are many causes for allergies and intolerances, it is not possible to exclude the possibility of their presence on board a plane. In general, meals and snacks are served during Eurowings flights.

Eurowings explained that because they allow passengers to bring their own food on board flights, they were unable to “guarantee that the aircraft is free of foodstuffs that may trigger an allergic reaction, such as peanuts.”

They continued: “Furthermore, due to its construction it is not possible to prevent an accumulation of peanut/nut traces despite regular and thorough cleaning of the aircraft.

“However, the HEPA (high efficiency particulate air filter) filters used on board can help passengers suffering from cat hair and house-dust allergies, for example. The filtration system circulates the cabin air, which is then supplemented with outside air.”

Eurowings said medically trained cabin crew always have access to medication to “provide emergency medical care in the event of an intolerance or allergic shock on board,” but that they recommend passengers also carry any necessary medication (allergy medication, EpiPen) in their hand luggage should they suffer from any allergies.

“A strong allergy sufferer should always be prepared for such an eventuality and has at least one, most of the time even two pens with anti-allergic with him/her as a preventive measure and usually informs our crews accordingly”, the statement concluded.

You can find more information about Eurowings’ allergy advice on the airline’s website, and a paragraph specifically about nut allergies within their General Conditions of Carriage (GCC).

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