Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

Traveling Overseas

By Jenny, age 15. Allergic to peanuts

Last summer I went on a trip to Japan with a group of my peers. Everything went wonderfully … until it came time to fly back to the United States.

My group and I arrived at the airport, checked our luggage, and got our tickets with absolutely no problems. I ate lunch and went with my friend to go shopping for souvenirs. When I came back to the gate, I was told that the airline was looking for me. I immediately went to the counter, where I was asked if I had a peanut allergy. I said yes, and asked if I could preboard to clean my seat.

The man at the counter, who didn’t speak English very well, decided that I wasn’t getting on that plane. He said the airline’s policy was that they had to isolate and clean the plane for three weeks before they could let me on it. He said that the airline had not been informed of my allergy in advance, and therefore I would have to wait three weeks to get on.

I explained that that was impossible. My mother had informed them of my allergy at least twice, and once even two weeks before. On the flight from the United States to Japan, the airline asked me to tell them whatever I needed, and they even declared a peanut-free flight.

The airline still wouldn’t let me board. They let everyone else in my group on the plane, except for me and one of the chaperones. They kept saying that I couldn’t board the plane for three weeks.

I was very upset and called my dad, who called the U.S. consulate in Sapporo, Japan. An American consulate representative there was able to reach the airline, and, after a little arguing, the airline agreed to allow us to board the plane after all. The whole situation was really scary.

Here are my tips for other teens traveling overseas:

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