Following the nut-capades of my flight from Melbourne to Brunei, my allergy-related stories surprisingly continued! [Yes, this is the only allergy-excitement I’ve ever had on a flight (and there were more stories on the way home too – stay tuned!)]. I’d landed in Brunei after 8 or so hours and as I’m walking off the plane, there is a staff member holding a sign with my name on it (something I definitely wasn’t expecting to see – had I won a luxury hotel stay with airport transfer?). He confirmed my allergy and then I was told “I’m sorry but we cannot let you fly to London”. TRAVEL PLANS HALTED. Months of planning my perfect Eurotrip brought to a sudden close as the unlucky Bruneian man was forced to deliver this terrible news. Whilst I’m sure that Brunei is a very lovely place, it wasn’t quite the holiday I had in mind [and I don’t think that it would be a place that I could occupy my adventurous, never-stop-touring self for 2.5 months]. *** Another crisis averted – they had categorised beans in the nut allergy category and all the meals had already been prepared containing beans. After assuring them that I was not allergic to beans, they allowed me to fly to London (phew!). The rest of the flight ensued without issue and I arrived safe and sound in London to begin my Eurotrip.
I mention this story because of Royal Brunei’s policy that “in cases of severe allergy, [Royal Brunei] reserves the right to deny boarding on the basis of safety”. Whilst I completely understand that this is justified from the airline’s perspective, it is simply discouraging to think that us Allergians can be denied boarding a plane on this basis; flying is an activity which is for the primary purpose of transporting passengers and eating simply operates as a consequential activity.
More importantly, this incident taught me to always ask questions and not accept things on face value. Had I not questioned the airline when they told me I couldn’t board the plane as the pre-prepared meals contained nuts, I would not have come to the understanding that the meal contained beans and not nuts. Obviously (and I’m sure all Allergians would know this), this works the other way around as well – simply because a waiter has told you there are no nuts in a meal does not mean you should take this on face value. Never feel embarrassed or nervous to clarify or ask as many questions as you need to give you peace of mind – and in all honesty, I can’t say that I always abide by this. While others might not understand our apprehensiveness, think of this as a risk vs. reward situation. I guess the crucial thing for us Allergians to recognise is that while we are so attuned and accustomed to identifying risks, those without allergies cannot possibly be expected to be in the same position.