Swiss Air Lines becomes world's 'first allergy-friendly' carrier


, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

In response to the rise of food intolerances and allergies among consumers, Swiss International Air Lines has announced that it's become the world's first certified "allergy-friendly" airline.

Beginning next month, the carrier says it will begin rolling out new products and services to improve the flying experience for allergy sufferers, ranging from the in-flight menu to cabin modifications.

While most commercial airlines already offer gluten-free and lactose-free meal options, Swiss has gone a step further in becoming certified by the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation.

"The numbers of people suffering from allergies have been increasing throughout the industrialized world for several years now," said Torsten Zuberbier, director of the Berlin-based ECARF.

According to Zuberbier, more than 30 percent of Europe's population suffer directly from allergies, but only 10 percent seek medical treatment.

In addition to allergy sufferers, consumers with food intolerances and flyers following strict dietary regimes will be able to request gluten-free snacks and meals, as well as lactose-free alternatives like coffee cream and chocolate.

In the cabin, First and Business Class passengers will be offered pillows stuffed with synthetic materials instead of the sneeze-inducing down-filled kind.

The airline will also eliminate decorative flowers and air fresheners, while on-board toilets will now be stocked with soaps that are gentler on the skin.

Allergy-friendly cabins could be seen as an in-flight extension of a hotel trend: hypoallergenic rooms.

Select properties under the Hilton and Hyatt brands, for instance, offer hypoallergenic rooms that feature in-room filtration systems to remove air particles and microfiber pillow cases. Surfaces are also treated with bacteria-inhibiting sanitizers.