Home Travel Passenger with nut allergy ‘forced’ to sign waiver taking responsibility if she died

Passenger with nut allergy ‘forced’ to sign waiver taking responsibility if she died

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Passenger with nut allergy ‘forced’ to sign waiver taking responsibility if she died

A woman who has a severe nut allergy said she was forced to sign a waiver saying it was her responsibility if she died onboard a recent flight, and acknowledging that the plane would not make an emergency landing if she went into anaphylactic shock.

Abbie Tomlinson, 26, was flying from London Heathrow to Vietnam on 9 October with Bamboo Airways when the “traumatising” incident took place.

“It was really scary, I didn’t take my Covid mask off throughout the whole 14 hour flight or eat on the plane,” the doctor from Newcastle tells The Independent.

“I would never fly with Bamboo Airlines again, to be honest I’m also put off flying from Heathrow too, as they were so unhelpful.”

Abbie Tomlinson said she has never been asked to sign a waiver while on her travels before

(Abbie Tomlinson)

Dr Tomlinson, who was flying with her best friend Anna, informed cabin crew about her allergy when she boarded flight QH24, “politely” asking them not to serve peanuts during the flight.

“They would not accept that I had a severe nut allergy that is airborne. This is not something I chose to have nor is it something I can magically fix,” she said in an emotive Twitter thread.

“They laughed in my face,” she said, claiming they told her: “you cannot possibly ask people not to eat nuts”.

Staff at London Heathrow came onboard to help translate “due to the language barrier”, but crew continued to state that nothing could be done.

“Just have your EpiPen,” they said, according to Dr Tomlinson.

She alleges she was then “forced to sign a piece of paper handwritten by the airline saying that if I have an anaphylaxis on board, they will NOT do an emergency landing and if I fly I do so at my own risk and they are not liable if I die on the flight.”

Dr Tomlinson claims that she was only allowed on the flight at all because she was a doctor, and that flight attendants “wanted me off the flight”.

“Just to make everything worse, 20 minutes into the flight, every passenger is offered a complimentary bag of peanuts despite all the above happening,” she said.

“In 2022 I should not be discriminated for having a medical problem I was born with,” Dr Tomlinson added. “For info, nut allergies can lead to anaphylaxis and ultimately can lead to a cardiac arrest and death.

“An epipen buys you 30 minutes of time, but you need to have further hospital treatment following any anaphylaxis.”

She tells The Independent that, although she has encountered issues with flying and having a nut allergy before, “this is the first time I’ve ever been asked to sign something to say they wouldn’t emergency land or the first time they have asked me to leave the flight.”

A Bamboo Airways spokesperson told The Independent: “As a service provider, Bamboo Airways is very sorry that the experience of passenger Abbie Tomlinson on flight QH24 Heathrow to Hanoi on 9 October 2022 was less than satisfactory.

“Upon receiving a notice from passenger Abbie Tomlinson about her severe allergy to nuts, we checked the policy and consulted with experienced partners at Heathrow airport.

“In fact, not only the physical nuts but also other types of nuts, such as cooking oil and sauces made from nuts, etc., could also do harm.

“In addition, this was a 12-hour long-haul flight, and we had to serve meals to the passengers on board to ensure their health and privileges.

“Therefore, we recommended that passenger Abbie Tomlinson reschedule to another flight with a more deliberate preparation for meals to ensure her absolute health.

“However, passenger Abbie Tomlinson expressed her request to make the flight. Therefore, we gave her a waiver form to sign, which is generally applicable to passengers with special health requirements.

“In the waiver, we are committed to supporting changing seats for passenger Abbie Tomlinson to the last row and not serving nuts in her meal. Passenger Abbie Tomlinson signed the waiver to use the aforementioned inflight meal.

“During the flight, Bamboo Airways’ crew took special care of passenger Abbie Tomlinson, regularly checking to ensure she was okay. Throughout the journey, we did not receive any complaints or requests for medical assistance from passenger Abbie Tomlinson.”

The spokesperson added that it’s Bamboo Airways’ “service signature” that flight attendants “constantly interact with passengers with a smile to show a sense of hospitality and welcome”.

They said: “We deeply regret that differences in culture and communication may have led passenger Abbie Tomlinson to misunderstand that our staff acted disrespectfully upon her allergy notation.”

The airline said it is working with Dr Tomlinson “for mutual understanding and giving support to our very best”.

“We value our passengers, and exceptional service is always our priority,” they concluded.

In the UK, nut allergies are common and affect approximately 1 in 50 children and around 1 in 200 adults. With many aircraft having capacity for around 200 passengers, it’s therefore not unlikely for a flight to have at least one nut allergy sufferer on board.

Guidance from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) sets out that allergy policies and the standards that need to be followed are airlines’ responsibility.

It states that: “The airlines are obliged to meet all the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and of their respective government, which incidentally differ from State to State.”

According to Heathrow, it does not employ airline staff or have control over policies on aircraft.

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