A Turkish Airlines passenger was kicked off his flight home after informing cabin crew he had a nut allergy.
Josh Silver, 25, was flying from Antalya, Turkey, to Gatwick with his girlfriend when he notified a flight attendant of his condition.
He was told to leave the flight immediately shortly before take-off. When he refused, armed police boarded the aircraft to escort the couple off.
“Are they suggesting people with nut allergies shouldn’t fly at all? It’s discriminating,” Silver told the BBC.
Turkish Airlines’ website tells passengers with allergies to “inform us of any allergies you may have for your in-flight meal”.
“We clearly state on our website that anyone with a nut allergy must inform us before the flight,” a Turkish Airlines spokesperson told The Independent.
“In this case, our records show that no such information was provided by the passenger until they boarded the flight, which unfortunately is too late for cabin crew to prepare for and take precautions against potential allergy attacks in advance.
“Our priority is always to ensure our passengers are safe to enjoy a pleasant flight.”
Silver claims he spoke to a Turkish Airlines manager at check-in before leaving Gatwick, who told him he was cleared to fly.
The same thing happened on the return flight and Silver, who flies frequently for work, informed cabin crew as a further precaution.
His allergy is triggered by consuming nuts rather than by airborne particles and he offered not to eat anything while onboard to resolve the issue. Turkish Airlines refused.
“I felt like I’d done something wrong,” said Silver. “If I had been drunk I would have understood but I’ve got a medical condition.”
He described being escorted off by police, along with girlfriend Flavia Ivanaj, 21, as “overwhelming” and “an ordeal”.
Turkish Airlines said it could fly the pair home on a later flight but only if they paid for new tickets.
The couple opted instead to shell out £550 to fly with an alternative airline.
“Whilst I understand they might be anxious about my having a reaction onboard, their policy is inconsistent,” said Silver.
Allergy policies vary from airline to airline. Emirates came under fire for suggesting two siblings who suffer from severe nut allergies to spend their flight to Dubai in the toilet to avoid inhaling cashew residue.
The airlines does not offer nut-free special meals and says on its website: “Nuts are served on all Emirates flights, either as a meal ingredient or as an accompaniment to drinks. Therefore we recommend bringing your own meal on board if you have nut allergies.”