Canadian woman with severe food allergy sobs in plane toilet after being served wrong meal on 15-hour flight

Chloe Chapdelaine crying in her TikTok video
Photo credit: @chloe.chapdelaine / TikTok

A woman who battled diarrhoea and extreme nausea on a 15-hour flight has hit out at the airline for serving her a croissant as part of her breakfast - despite her being highly allergic to gluten. 

Chloë Chapdelaine, a 25-year-old content creator from Alberta, Canada, filmed herself visibly distressed in the airplane's bathroom as she explained how she'd eaten half of the pastry before realising it wasn't gluten free. 

Chapdelaine has coeliac disease, an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the lining of the small intestine as a reaction to the consumption of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Over time, the lining becomes inflamed and damaged, leading to medical complications and also preventing the absorption of nutrients. To prevent symptoms and promote intestinal healing, coeliacs are required to stick to a strict gluten-free diet. It's believed to affect around one in 100 people.

The 25-year-old, who had requested a gluten-free meal on her Emirates flight from Dubai to Los Angeles on June 5, later shared the footage of her sobbing in the bathroom to TikTok, which has since been viewed over 2.3 million times.

"This is the reality for a lot of people living with coeliac disease," an emotional Chapdelaine said in the video, showing herself in the airplane's small bathroom.

The video, captioned "worst flight of my life", went on to show footage of the continental breakfast in question. The hot component of the meal, which was labelled "gluten free meal", was accompanied by a gluten-free bread roll, fresh fruit and a selection of spreads, as well as a croissant - the packaging of which did not carry a gluten-free sticker.

"I've been gluten-free for almost 10 years and I haven't eaten any. I was told I was given a gluten-free croissant with my gluten-free airplane meal, and it turns out that it wasn't - and I ate half of it," she said to the camera. 

"I'm in the bathroom right now, trying to make myself sick so that I can mitigate the symptoms, but I'm just trying not to have a panic attack. 

"I should have double-checked, it was on the tray… I just assumed. But anyways, this is my situation right now and I thought I would share. Always check your airplane meals before you eat them if you have coeliac disease - even if they say it's gluten-free, just double-check because you never know what can happen."

Chapdelaine later said she became suspicious after eating half the pastry, noting it tasted "too good" to be gluten-free. At this point she asked a flight attendant to double-check with staff, and she was informed it in fact wasn't a gluten-free pastry and had been accidentally added to her breakfast tray. 

After throwing up in the small toilet, Chapdelaine said she spent the remainder of the flight in extreme discomfort, battling nausea, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.  

She also claimed she suffered an itchy rash on her skin following the mix-up and will have to cope with the "mental repercussions" of the accidental consumption for around two weeks, which include brain fog and feeling depressed.

"Immediately I went into shock and started to panic," Chapdelaine told Kennedy News. "I am very highly sensitive and my coeliac disease will react to a trace amount or cross contamination.

"I went to the bathroom and made myself physically sick and was in there for about an hour throwing up, which was horrible."

She said airlines need to take their customers' allergies and intolerances more seriously, adding that if she had a nut allergy - which is typically more well-understood - the situation would have likely been different.

"I do feel like coeliac disease is not taken as seriously [as nut allergies] at times. I just hope the airlines take allergies or medical conditions seriously when it comes to serving people food on planes because it can have lasting effects for lots of people."

Chapdelaine said she has yet to receive a response from Emirates after filing a formal complaint.

As reported by the Daily Mail, a spokesperson for the airline confirmed they have received her complaint and the matter is being investigated.