View of airplane cabin from the back aisle with people in the seats.

May 16, 2024

Allergy & Asthma Network and other advocacy and professional groups have long advocated for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) policies to require epinephrine on airlines. Those efforts paid off this week when Congress passed legislation that requires FAA to review and update airline Emergency Medical Kits.

The bill now heads to President Biden to be signed into law.

The legislation includes the following:

  • A review of Emergency Medical Kits to ensure they contain treatments for anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction
  • A review of training for flight crew on the “contents, location and function” of the Kit

The review is required every five years.

The legislation is part of a broader bill that reauthorizes FAA funding. FAA oversees all airplane traffic in the United States. The bill grants $105 billion to the agency.

Ensuring access to epinephrine is one of Allergy & Asthma Network’s Policy Priorities. Advocates have urged Congress to support updates to airline Emergency Medical Kits during the Network’s annual advocacy day, Allergy & Asthma Day Capitol Hill, in May.

The prospect of an in-flight allergic reaction is a serious concern for people with severe allergies. Nearly 2 percent of all in-flight medical emergencies are due to severe allergies.

Epinephrine is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis. It is most commonly available as an epinephrine auto-injector. Many airlines store epinephrine in their Emergency Medical Kits, but some keep it in a vial. This means the medication must be given by syringe. The process of filling a syringe with epinephrine can take time. It may also require medical expertise to draw the correct dose.

Epinephrine auto-injectors are designed for ease of use. No medical training is needed. New epinephrine devices, such as a nasal spray or sublingual film, are also in development.

Allergy & Asthma Network is dedicated to advancing policies that promote accessibility for all, especially those with severe allergies. This policy change will ensure people at risk for anaphylaxis have access to the medication they need, even when they are 30,000 feet in the air.