Nottingham gymnast goes into allergic shock on Air France flight from Paris despite warning cabin crew

Natasha in Paris wearing a blue jacket
-Credit: (Image: Natasha Coates)

A Nottingham gymnast went into anaphylactic shock after she said flight attendants served almond biscuits to other passengers, despite her repeated warnings. Natasha Coates, 29, was flying back from Paris with her fiancée on Saturday, May 25, after spending a holiday there together and getting engaged.

Natasha has a severe airborne tree nuts and peanuts allergy, which she says she told cabin crew members about repeatedly upon boarding the Air France flight to Birmingham Airport. She then started feeling unwell but assumed it was just because she was tired.

Her fiancée was then served a packet of almond shortbread, which is when the couple realised Natasha was having an allergic reaction. The airline later offered Natasha a "sincere apology" for the "discourtesy you encountered".

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She said: "I asked them many times to make an announcement about my allergy but they didn't and I was almost made to feel like I was being dramatic about it, even though it's a life-threatening allergy. It was a total disregard for my safety and my life and I'm still in shock.

"It said 'almond shortbread' on the front of the packet but they still told us the biscuits didn't have any nuts in them and continued to hand them out." Natasha explained that her fiancée then spoke up and explained the situation to the other passengers, but the damage had already been done and she had gone into anaphylaxis.

She had to use two EpiPens on the flight, while two doctors who happened to be on board helped her. Paramedics were also waiting for Natasha at the airport following the emergency landing. The gymnast had not flown for 13 years due to her allergy but had finally gathered the courage to board a flight again, with her recent experience turning out to be a disappointment.

She said: "I was frightened but tried to stay calm because I knew if I panicked, I'd feel worse. But now, when I go to sleep, I'm back on the plane. I've not really had a chance to process it and after such a magical time away and my first time abroad in 13 years, I can't wrap my head around the fact that my fiancée didn't know if she was going to return to the UK with me alive.

"I've done a lot to campaign for allergy awareness and it's frustrating. It took me a long time to build up the confidence to go abroad and to speak up for myself just to get blatantly ignored."

Natasha proposing to her girlfriend
Natasha proposed to her girlfriend on the "magical" trip to Paris -Credit:Natasha Coates

The gymnast said she's had multiple conversations with the airline since the incident, which she says all ended with "the same standard response". She said: "I keep getting 'we're sorry and we hope you fly with us again' but it could've killed me. They don't seem to have grasped that. They knew about my allergy and still served those free biscuits.

"I'm concerned that if I don't speak out about it, the next person that it happens to might not be so lucky and might not survive. I get that food allergies are an inconvenience but people can survive an hour or so without eating nuts, we need to be more careful about these things," she added.

'A sincere apology is offered'

In the response that Natasha received from the airline, Air France said: "As per your e-mail, I regret to learn that you were very disappointed with the unfavourable behaviour of our cabin staff on board for not giving the satisfactory services. I can completely understand the situation you went through as you were allergic to tree nuts and peanuts.

"A sincere apology is offered for the discourtesy you encountered. Naturally you expect our staff to provide the best possible service and it is inexcusable that you should have been confronted with anything else.

"We would like to reassure you that Air France places special emphasis on courtesy and customer care. Service, courtesy, a friendly disposition and professional behaviour are the very minimum requirements that Air France demands of its staff, especially for those who work directly with the public.

"Unfortunately, in this instance, we are sorry to note that your perception is to the contrary. Please accept our sincere apologies for the Inconvenience."

Nottinghamshire Live has approached Air France for further comment.