Holidaymaker 'thrown off plane after telling crew of deadly nut allergy' calls for end to 'shocking' discrimination
A British holidaymaker claims he was thrown off a plane by police in Turkey after informing cabin crew he had a potentially deadly nut allergy.
Josh Silver, 25, boarded the flight home from Antalya to Gatwick after his first holiday with his girlfriend, when he alerted staff he was seriously allergic to nuts.
The events manager said he was told he would have to leave the plane since it was “against airline policy” to fly someone with his requirements.
When he refused, explaining he had told the airline of his allergy before travelling and was deemed safe to fly, he claims he was “threatened" before being escorted off the plane by four police officers.
He was then taken to a Turkish Airlines sales desk, where he said he was told he could be placed on a later flight, but would have to get a new ticket – at his own expense.
Mr Silver, from Waltham Abbey, Essex, told the Standard: “To not only be told you can’t fly home for something you’ve already flagged to officials numerous times, and then be told that actually you can fly but will need to pay all over again, is just beyond belief.
“If they had said all this before I left the UK, then maybe I could understand. But they let me fly out, knowing about my allergy, then turned around saying I can’t go back home.”
Mr Silver suffers from a severe nut allergy, but it is not airborne, meaning he will not suffer an anaphylactic reaction unless he consumes a product containing nuts.
He claimed that he had informed the airline of this before the flights to and from Turkey, explaining he had medication with him which his girlfriend was trained to administer.
“They said it was not a problem and even offered to make a note on their system for my flight home, so I thought I was in safe hands,” he said.
“Still, I wanted to warn the cabin crew when we got on the plane home, just in case I had any issues on board, so they'd know what they were dealing with.
The 25-year-old said he was sat in his seat, preparing for take off, when an “aggressive” flight attendant told him he would have to leave the plane.
When he explained he had travelled with the airline the week before, she allegedly responded: “This flight will not be taking you home.”
A number of ground control staff boarded the plane when Mr Silver and his partner Flavia refused to leave, and attempted to forcibly "remove him," he said.
“It was horrendous – completely uncalled for, and left myself and my partner extremely upset and embarrassed,” he said.
“I kept telling the staff that my allergy was not airborne and I was happy to simply not eat or drink anything on-board, but they just wouldn’t accept it.
“Once they got the police involved, we admitted defeat and were escorted off.
“When they told us we could fly with them if we bought a new ticket, having kept us at the police station, I thought it was a joke.”
Mr Silver said he then decided to pay for a flight home with a different airline without telling them of his allergy, “in case they took the same discriminative stance and refused to fly us home.”
Turkish Airlines states on its website that allergy sufferers should: “be sure that you inform us of any allergies you may have for your in-flight meal”. But it makes no mention of further policies surrounding the treatment of allergy sufferers.
“There are still so many issues for people with allergies trying to travel, on so many different airlines” said Mr Silver.
“Lots of people have already come forward to me to say they’d suffered numerous problems on flights over the years.”
There is no blanket policy against serving nut products on planes – each sets its own guidelines. However, Mr Silver and many others are calling for a blanket ban on life-threatening allergens.
“I am shocked at the discrimination I experienced just because of a medical condition, and what I don’t understand is why planes don’t just ban nut products all together?"
Mr Silver has submitted a letter of complaint to Turkish Airlines and is awaiting a response.
The Standard has contacted the airline for comment.