A gluten-allergic backpacker filmed herself sobbing in airplane toilets after a “pastry mix-up” that left her battling illness and diarrhea for 15 hours.
Chloe Chapdelaine has celiac disease, so she ordered a gluten-free in-flight meal to feast on while flying from Dubai to Los Angeles on June 5.
The 25-year-old content creator was served a seemingly appetizing gluten-free continental breakfast on a tray marked “gluten-free” an hour after the flight.
But after scrapping half the plain croissant, which didn’t carry a gluten-free sticker, Ms. Chapdelaine thought it tasted “too good” to be gluten-free and decided to check with a flight attendant.
An ashen flight attendant returned from checking with staff to confirm it was not gluten-free, Ms Chapdelaine said.
Chloe Chapdelaine has celiac disease, so she ordered a gluten-free in-flight meal to munch on as she flew from Dubai to Los Angeles on Monday
The 25-year-old content creator was delighted when she was served a tasty-looking gluten-free continental breakfast an hour after the flight on a tray labeled “gluten-free.”
But after scrapping half the plain croissant, which didn’t carry a gluten-free sticker, Ms. Chapdelaine thought it tasted “too good” to be gluten-free and decided to check with a flight attendant. She later filmed herself in the toilet and described her symptoms
Footage dubbed “the worst flight of my life” shows the tearful traveler in the plane bathroom explaining what happened while trying to make herself sick.
After throwing up for an hour, Ms Chapdelaine said she was nauseous for the rest of the flight with severe stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
She also claims she suffered from itchy skin and will have to deal with the “mental fallout” of what happened for two weeks, including brain fog and feelings of depression.
Celiac disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your own tissues when you eat gluten, according to the NHS. This damages your gut (small intestine), so your body can’t absorb nutrients properly.
It affects about one in 100 people and is caused by a side effect of wheat, barley and rye.
Mrs. Chapdelaine, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, said, “When I ate one of the croissants on the tray, I got a really bad feeling.
‘It tasted so good and I’ve never tasted such a good gluten-free croissant.
“I then wondered why they would have such a good gluten-free brand on a flight, and then I wondered if it was really gluten-free for a flight attendant.
Ms Chapdelaine said the flight attendant then ‘went pale’ and upon checking told her it was not supposed to be on her plate and that it was not gluten free.
“I immediately went into shock and panicked,” the content creator added.
“I’m very highly sensitive and my celiac will respond to a trace or cross-contamination.”
Finding out she ate half a non-gluten-free croissant, a much larger amount than she has commented on in the past, was “really scary.”
After throwing up for an hour, Ms Chapdelaine said she was nauseous for the rest of the flight with severe stomach cramps and diarrhea
Footage dubbed ‘the worst flight of my life’ shows the tearful traveler in the plane bathroom explaining what happened while trying to make herself sick
Ms. Chapdelaine was not angry that she had broken her gluten-free diet, but rather feared that she would experience symptoms for weeks on end.
“It was a moment of panic,” she added. “I went to the bathroom and made myself physically sick and was in there throwing up for about an hour, which was horrible.
“I knew if I didn’t do this it would do a lot more damage to my body.”
WHAT IS COeliac?
Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease in which gluten causes damage in the small intestine.
Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestine, which impairs the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food.
The condition is estimated to affect one in 100 people worldwide.
One percent — or three million Americans — live with celiac disease.
There are over 200 symptoms of celiac disease, but the most common are:
- Bloating and pain in the abdomen
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Pale, foul-smelling, or oily stools
- Weight loss
The only treatment for the disease is a strict gluten-free diet.
Only foods and drinks with a gluten content of less than 20 parts per million are allowed.
Source: Celiac Foundation
She said she felt the other symptoms come on right away, such as severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and itchy skin — like when she eats gluten, her skin breaks out in hives or a rash.
“I’m dealing with the mental effects like brain fog or I’m going to be depressed for the next few weeks,” Ms Chapdelaine added.
After her allergic reaction, she shared a clip on Tiktok to show how serious the effects of eating gluten can be on her.
Ms Chapdelaine said she hadn’t eaten gluten for nearly nine years since she was diagnosed with celiac disease and this wasn’t the first time she’d had problems on a flight.
“For me, this isn’t the first time I’ve been exposed to gluten on an airplane,” she said.
Luckily I realized the last time before I ate it, but if I hadn’t I would have eaten it and the same thing would have happened. It’s not a one-time thing and half of the flights I’ve taken – I travel all the time – gluten-free meals are forgotten.’
She said people are quick to wonder why people with celiac disease don’t bring their own food on a flight, but that’s not always possible because when you’re traveling and you’re in a hotel room, you don’t have access to a kitchen. In addition, she said some border security will not let you bring food items across the border – such as meat, dairy products, seeds or nuts.
The Canadian said airlines need to take allergies and intolerances on flights more seriously and believes the situation would have been different if she had a nut allergy.
She said: ‘I feel like celiac disease isn’t taken that seriously [as nut allergies] sometimes.
Ms. Chapdelaine, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, said, “When I ate one of the croissants on the tray, I got a really bad feeling”
Ms Chapdelaine also claims she suffered from itchy skin and will have to deal with the ‘mental effects’ of what happened for two weeks, including brain fog and feelings of depression.
“I think people with food allergies or sensitivities deserve to exist safely and be taken seriously in their medical condition and that’s not always the case.
“I just hope the airlines take allergies or just medical conditions seriously when it comes to serving food to people on planes because it could have lasting consequences for a lot of people.”
Ms Chapdelaine said Emirates flight attendants were sympathetic to her, but after filing a formal complaint she has not heard back from the airline.
An Emirates spokesperson said: ‘We are disappointed to hear the complaint from Ms Chapdelaine. Emirates strives to meet all specific passenger needs by offering a number of special meals that cover as many medical, dietary and religious requirements as possible.
‘The safety and health of our customers is taken very seriously. Ms. Chapdelaine has contacted our Customer Affairs team and we are looking into the matter.”