‘I’m lucky to survive’: Passenger goes into anaphylactic shock after warning crew of allergy

'I'm lucky to survive': Passenger goes into anaphylactic shock after warning crew of allergy
Natasha Coates says the food handed out by cabin crew stated in both English and French that it contained almonds (Image credit: Natasha Coates)

An Air France passenger thought she was “going to die” after she went into anaphylactic shock during a flight from Paris to Birmingham on Saturday despite having warned the crew of her allergy.

Natasha Coates, a gymnast from the UK, was assured by cabin crew that they would not serve passengers with any food that contain nuts upon boarding the flight.

However, once in the air, she began to feel unwell – which she attributed to feeling tired.

Her fiancé, with whom she was travelling after a holiday celebrating their engagement, was served with a packet of almond shortbread.

Coates claims the packet stated in both English and French that the food contained almonds.

The gymnast has a severe airborne allergy to both tree nuts and peanuts.

She told ARGS: “As I boarded the flight we said ‘Hello’. I told them I’ve got a severe nut allergy to peanuts and tree nuts and they were like ‘Okay, so you get a rash’.

“And I said ‘No, no, it’s anaphylaxis’. They asked if I had an EpiPen and I said ‘Yes’.

“I told them it’s an airborne allergy and the crew gestured [that they understood me].

Coates used two of the four EpiPens she carries with her in case of an emergency.

She said she thought there was a “mutual understanding” that food containing nuts would not be served, and expected the crew to make an announcement to the whole plane to not open any such products.

However, what Coates witnessed was that cabin crew individually told passengers to refrain from eating nuts.

Once the passenger began to feel unwell, she felt warm and flushed and it “hadn’t quite occurred to me that I was reacting”.

Coates then broke out in a rash across her face and chest and took antihistamines as she began to realise “something wasn’t right”.

When she alerted the crew that the almond biscuits they were handing out contained almonds, they tried to reassure Coates “no they don’t” and continued to hand them out.

She claims there was “no responsibility” taken by the crew and that the airline “had not grasped the severity of this” when she contacted Air France after the incident.

“They weren’t helpful”, she added. “It felt like they were irritated by me [but] they were actively panicking.”

Coates said she was lucky to survive the ordeal.

The airline told Coates in an email the day after the incident: “As per your correspondence, please allow me to reiterate you were disappointed with the unfavourable behaviour of our cabin staff onboard for not giving the satisfactory services.

“I can completely understand the situation you went through as you were allergic to tree nuts and peanuts.

“A sincere apology is offered for the discourtesy you encountered.”

ARGS has contacted Air France for comment.