ZURICH AIRPORT, Switzerland, April 16, 2014 — In May, Swiss International Air Lines Ltd., (SWISS), will introduce a number of ground/ inflight products designed to enhance the air travel experience for allergy sufferers. These innovations will include new alternative (lactose- and gluten- free) food and drinks, along with cabin interior changes.
SWISS has teamed up with the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF) to offer its guests an even more individualized service product for travelers with allergies. New onboard all SWISS flights will be lactose- and gluten- free food and beverage alternatives such as lactose-free coffee cream and a lactose-free version of the popular SWISS chocolate bar.
Depending on the length of the flight, SWISS guests with allergies or other intolerances may further request special snacks (candy bars, yoghurt or cakes) that address passenger allergies, and pay full regard to their conditions.
At present, allergy sufferers will be able to order special meals tailored to their needs in all seating classes on long-haul services and in Business Class within Europe up to 24 hours before their scheduled departure. From the U.S., SWISS offers long-haul flights to Switzerland in First, Business, Economy classes of service from Boston, Chicago, New York, Newark, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
SWISS is making allergy-minded modifications to its cabins, too. First and Business Class passengers will be offered pillows stuffed with synthetic materials as an alternative to the down-filled version. SWISS is also ceasing its use in the cabin of decorative flowers and air fresheners that might cause nose and throat irritations; and the on-board toilets will now feature soaps that are gentle on the skin.
“We have seen a steady increase over the past few years in our customers’ need for an air travel environment that pays due regard to any allergic conditions,” explains Frank Maier, SWISS’s Head of Product & Services. “So we’ve been working with ECARF (the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation) to provide a concrete response to these demands to make everyone’s air travel experience as pleasant and problem-free as possible.”
“The numbers of people suffering from allergies have been increasing throughout the industrialized world for several years now,” adds Professor Torsten Zuberbier, the Director of Berlin-based ECARF. “Over 30 percent of Europe’s population are directly affected by one or more allergies – not to mention those indirectly affected, such as their families. Yet only around 10 percent of sufferers get the right medical treatment; and allergies are still often not taken seriously, even by the sufferers themselves.”
SWISS is the first airline in the world to meet the ECARF criteria for ‘allergy-friendly’ airlines. As a result, SWISS can now place the ECARF seal of approval on its service product range.
To book a SWISS flight, visit www.swiss.com or contact your local travel agent.
While I’m pleased to see this announcement, I don’t believe Swiss Air’s efforts go far enough for passengers with severe food allergies. Are they willing to make an announcement for someone with either peanut or tree nut allergies? Are they willing to create a buffer zone? Since they now have their “allergy friendly” designation, perhaps they will take these steps for someone with severe allergies, but can I count on it? Online, Swiss Air says they cannot guarantee a nut free flight nor can they control what passengers bring on the aircraft. In my mind, there’s still too much ambiguity to fly Swiss Air, but I would certainly consider it if they could provide us with additional information on how they would handle a nut allergy.
With regards to the lactose-free and gluten-free foods they’ll be offering, I’m waiting to learn more from the company about how these products are manufactured. Until we know more, I would encourage passengers with either life threatening allergies or celiac disease to bring their own food on board the flight. I’ll pass along more information as I get it as well.
In the meantime, we should thank Swiss Air for acknowledging this growing public health concern and for taking these steps which are bound to help many.
Happy Spring. Safe Travels –