Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Stress Of Holidays - Flying with allergies

Booking a holiday is always so exciting, planning where to go, looking at amazing photos of hotels, researching things to do and places to see, and of course, that much needed time off work. But then the reality hits in, every week there seems to be new fees on top of the massive amount you've already spent, and nothing seems to go smooth. Anyone else?

I've always been super unlucky with holidays, remember that ash cloud? Maybe my month long experience stuck in Dubai should've been the black cloud (get it) hinting the stress to come.

1. Extra charges for absolutely everything...

Want to sit together? We'll charge for that. Suitcase? £50 please. Don't want dead legs? £10 each. Imagine my anger when I booked seats this year (nice little £60 there) then the next day I was told it hadn't gone through and my card had been rejected. I paid again and obviously, both had gone through. (like I said, I'm pretty unlucky). Or for seats, you can turn up and hope you get good ones, but you may risk being bumped off your flight if you're too late.

2. The stress of the day...

Travel insurance? Sorted. Managed to get to the airport? Well done. Three arguements in already? Yep. God those 3am wake up calls after no sleep and trying to get ready quietly do not run smoothly for a couple. Be prepared to sit in silence for the taxi and want to kill each other before you even get to the airport.

3. Finding somewhere to eat...

This doesn't affect everyone of course, but airports don't treat allergies well unless you arrive super early. Last year we had a fabulous breakfast at Wagamama (yes, that's a thing!) and it was brilliant, but we'd arrived at the airport over 3 hours before the flight for the luxury. We've had years where we've been later and my breakfast has been a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar, making the fore-coming meal on the flight even more tasty, when I get one that is.

4. The flight...

If you fly with allergies, you know the drill. You've emailed ahead, phoned up to double check it's all on record. Notified the check in desk just to be sure, but then comes telling the stewards. I normally say as I get on the flight, begging my boyfriend to stand behind me to reduce people overhearing. The response to 'I'm allergic to nuts' is normally a disgruntled sigh. 
If you're lucky, it gets announced in a reasonable amount of time, if you're unlucky, you're an hour into the flight when everyones got their earphones in when it's quietly announced (Thomson Airways I'm looking at you here). The year before last I got unlucky, a man opened a bag of loose nuts before we even set off. I'm sat there, smelling nuts, throat closing up, begging the airline to announce straight away. Luckily the guy was great and put them straight away, but there was my water for the flight gone, and absolutely no compassion or help from the airline. 

5. On that note, water!

Oh my god, I know you have to keep the weight down, but why is it such a challenge to get a cup of water on a flight? Virgin Holidays are fab for this, you'll never be waiting for anything! But Thomson's approach to 'unlimited drinks' is a lack of drinks for purchase, and no water, except two 30ml cups with each meal. We were once told we couldn't have a drink, bought or free, until food came (an hour and a half later)...

6. The allergy friendly meal.

I can't help much here on what these are actually like, as the past two years Thomson haven't fed me anything on the flight despite numerous phone calls and a promise of a meal. From those I've been given (a gluten free meal with nuts, or a nut free meal jam packed with gluten) they're always smaller with less on the plate. WHY?! Just because I can't eat flour doesn't mean I don't eat...

When I flew with Emirates a few years back from Australia to Dubai (another long haul flight) I was given fruit in chocolate sauce (half the fruit was Lychees), that was also not a favourite of mine.

This has been my challenge with Thomson this year, at the risk of this becoming a massive rant at them and not just the concept of flying, but after 3 months of trying to get an apology today I got a '£50 voucher' off my next holiday - as a regular holidayer with them for years spending thousands per trip a 1% saving seems ridiculous.

On board my most recent flight, when handed a nut free meal with gluten on it, I said to the Steward that there had been a mistake. I'll avoid the nitty gritty, but the conversation went along the lines of him telling me that 'it's either nut free or gluten free, make a choice' I obviously replied explaining nuts will kill me and Gluten will make me incredible sick, his response was 'well there you go then' before he walked off.

So this is a plee, has anyone with allergies/multiple allergies flown with an airline that either treats them well or actually feeds them?! 
As much as I don't mind taking food onto a flight, spending the flight anxious about having an allergic reaction is just not my cup of tea.

Also, anyone want my £50 off a holiday voucher? I've already told them I won't use it and fly with them again, don't worry!

7. And finally the best part - THE HOLIDAY

Despite everything, I've had the pleasure of visiting some INCREDIBLE hotels. Jamaica in 2015 was unbelievable, as was Mexico 2016. They catered to my allergies brilliantly (Gluten free french toast and pancakes? you betcha!) and were fantastic. I'll make sure I write about my visit to Secrets The Vine Cancun soon, as I highly highly recommend it, especially if you have allergies!

Now to go back to my hunt for this years trip, we're fancying America! (planning my packed lunch now!)

Laura xx


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