A Briton was left stranded in Cyprus and out of pocket after an airline allegedly refused to accommodate her nut allergy.
As reported by The Sun newspaper’s website, furious Helen Kotonias told air stewards she was at “high-risk” of going into anaphylactic shock from inhaling airborne particles from peanuts after being told the plane was not nut-free.
But instead of stopping passengers from eating peanuts on board, Helen was escorted off her Aegean Airlines flight home and told to book another flight home.
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The 35-year-old events manager told The Sun Online: “It was my first time flying with them. I checked their policy online, which says they don’t sell nuts. I was trying to reason with them because I didn’t want to be a difficult passenger and losing your temper and arguing doesn’t get you the results you want”.
“I was feeling really nervous and panicky. If people eat nuts around me I could die. It sounds dramatic but that’s the worst case scenario. I told them they were putting me in great danger but they refused to ask passengers not to eat nuts and instead told me to leave the plane,” Helen added.
By Wednesday, it remained unclear whether Helen was still stranded in Cyprus.
She developed a nut allergy in her 30s when she suffered a reaction at the London Paralympics in 2012 and says she has since always checked airlines’ policies on serving nuts before travelling.
Helen had flown out to Cyprus with Blue Air Romanian where she was spending time recuperating after a recent illness.
A Facebook post by Helen on August 25 seen by www.in-cyprus.com indicates that she had faced some resistance from staff on that flight too.
But it was on her return home to London Luton from Larnaca Airport that she was forced to leave her flight after staff allegedly refused to ban nuts from the plane.
Although Aegean Airlines says it does not serve peanuts on flights, it comes with a warning that passengers can still bring them on board.
Helen now has to pay for on a return flight home with another airline herself after Aegean Airlines allegedly said they would not reimburse her although it is understood she was offered an alternative flight with Aegean.
Helen has also gone on British TV to speak about her plight.
Speaking to ITV’s This Morning on Tuesday, she said: “As everyone was boarding I happened to see one of the air stewards walk past and asked if she would be making the announcement to notify other passengers about my nut allergy before take-off or afterwards.
“That’s something that makes me feel reassured that the procedure is in place and they do notify people.
“There is nothing currently to stop people bringing on products which contain nuts onto the aircraft to eat.
“That’s when I was informed they don’t tell the whole plane – just the row I’m sitting in and two rows in front.
“They said first class passengers would be served nuts.”
She is now calling for consistency across of airlines when it comes to nut allergies.
“In my previous experience, passengers around me have always been very supportive. They don’t want anyone to die on a flight,” Helen said.