What are the public liability implications of peanuts on airplanes?

Date: Jun 04, 2019

For many travellers, peanuts are the perfect on-the-go snack. In confined spaces like airplanes, however, this snack can turn quite sinister – especially where allergies are concerned. What are the public liability implications of peanuts on airplanes?

How dangerous are peanut allergies?

Peanut allergies are incredibly prevalent in Australia. In fact, almost three in every 100 Australian children are allergic to peanuts, according to Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia. The good news is that 20 per cent of people grow out of their peanut allergy, the organisation states. For others, however, reactions can range from mild rashes to fatal consequences.

Some reactions include:

  • Swelling of the airway, closing the throat.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Hives.
  • Cease in breathing.

Many peanut allergy sufferers carry an epinephrine auto-injector, or epi-pen, in case a reaction strikes. One of the key distinctions of a peanut allergy is that those suffering don't actually need to ingest a peanut to experience symptoms. For some, simply being in the vicinity of the snack is enough to rouse symptoms.

What happens if I have an allergic reaction to peanuts on a plane?

The good news is that reactions to peanuts on airplanes are fairly uncommon. However, there have been cases of peanut allergies striking passengers mid-flight. In November 2018, an Australian woman suffered an allergic reaction to peanut residue she came into contact with on a domestic flight.

The woman suffered major swelling, and her children who she was travelling with spent the flight concerned that they would lose their mother. Following the incident, the woman shared her experience and described flight travel with an airborne allergy like "boarding a plane with a person holding a loaded gun to your head."

This isn't the first Australian incident where a nut allergy was feared on a plane. Last March, an Australian airline came under fire for their alleged treatment of a person travelling from the UK to Australia. After being told that almonds were being served as part of service, the passenger was given a mask to wear to mitigate symptoms. The passenger then ultimately spent the flight in the bathroom for fear of reaction.

If you have experienced an allergic reaction on a plane, it's important to get in touch with lawyers to discuss the circumstances of your case. If an airline was aware of your allergy, and hadn't taken the correct steps to ensure your safety onboard, it could be assumed that they were negligent in their duty of care. In this case, they may be liable to pay compensation for your medical care and suffering experienced.

For support in your public liability dispute, get in touch with the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners for a consultation.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.