‘Nuts should be banned on flights,’ says woman who went into anaphylactic shock mid-air

'Nuts should be banned on flights', says woman who went into anaphylactic shock mid-air
Natasha Coates (right) and her fiancé (left) (Image credit: Natasha Coates)

A woman who went into anaphylactic shock mid-air after passengers were served almond biscuits is calling for nuts to be banned on planes.

Natasha Coates, a British passenger and disabled gymnast, who was travelling on an Air France flight from Paris to Birmingham last month, thought she was “going to die” despite having warned the crew of her severe allergy.

Coates was reassured an announcement would be made to passengers asking that nut-based foods would not be consumed and that no such foods would be served by crew.

But the customer soon began to feel ill and broke out in a rash across her face and chest.

Coates took antihistamines as she believed “something wasn’t right”, then used two EpiPens that she carried for emergencies as she realised she was going into anaphylaxis.

Speaking with ARGS this week after complaining to Air France about how the incident was handled, Coates said: “The incident was so easily preventable and it’s frustrating that my life has so little value to them clearly.

“I don’t feel that Air France have taken my problem seriously at all. It shouldn’t have to take multiple occasions of chasing them up for me to get a response that wasn’t just generic.

“I don’t think they appreciate that allergies can be life or death, which is hard enough to deal with on the ground, let alone in the air.”

The gymnast has a severe airborne allergy to both tree nuts and peanuts (Image credit: @hanohiki/Adobe Stock)

An Air France spokesperson told Coates “we cannot guarantee the absence of food allergen traces in our meals, both on board and at the airport” and that “unfortunately, we cannot adapt a policy that we do not serve particular meals, including tree or peanuts [to which Coates is allergic], on any of our flights”.

In the instance of a mid-air allergic reaction, the airline said “customers should do everything in their power to prevent these cases or be prepared if it does happen”.

Air France offered Coates a refund for the cost of her ticket, bag and seat costs as a “token of our apologies for the disappointment caused”.

But, speaking with ARGS, the passenger urged for nut-based foods to be outlawed on planes.

She said: “I truly believe nuts should be banned on flights. There are so many other alternatives that people can have.

“It really isn’t necessary in this day and age to serve nut-based products on an aeroplane.”

In response to the incident, an Air France spokesperson told ARGS the airline regrets the situation and that Coates “remains unhappy with the handling of her complaint”.

They added: “The customer care centre has since contacted Ms Coates again in an effort to resolve the outstanding complaint.

“Air France would like to reiterate that the health and safety of its customers is its absolute imperative.”