KCRA Channel 3 News, Sacramento, CA:Family Has Run-In With Airline Over Peanut Policy
CALL 3: Family Has Run-In With Airline Over Peanut Policy
POSTED: 4:09 PM PDT June 30, 2004
UPDATED: 4:30 PM PDT June 30, 2004
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network says 1.5 million people are allergic to peanuts -- most of them children. Exposure to skin, or peanut dust in the air, can be deadly. So, imagine how Sacramento parents felt when their son had a reaction on an airplane.
Thomas George's parents say they took special care when planning a vacation from Sacramento to Mazatlan last month. They say they booked on America West and called at least a month before the flight, asking that peanuts not be served.
"We can not guarantee that our flights will be a peanut-free flight, which means peanuts may or may not be served on the flight," said America West spokesperson Shaun Breese.
Thomas' parents say that when they boarded, they learned peanuts would be served, and that the airline officials told them if that was a problem, they had to get off the plane. Airline officials say the family chose to deplane.
"I was pleading with the head stewardess, saying, 'Are you really willing to risk my son's life over a few bags of peanuts?'" said Matthew George, Thomas' father.
America West says the decision comes down to cost and risk. It says that peanuts are a low-cost, high-protein snack option that helps keep fares low, and that passengers often bring on their own food.
"How do you tell a customer who brings on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that they can't eat it next to this little boy?" Breese said.
"They're saying to these passengers, 'We don't want to be bothered. We want to give out peanuts. We don't want to do anything for you. We don't want your business," said Ann Munoz-Furlong, founder of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.
The Federal Aviation Administration says no airline can, or does, guarantee a peanut-free flight. The Department of Transportation tried to require airlines to create peanut-free buffer zones, but congressional opponents crushed the idea.
There airlines that have created their own peanut policies.
Airlines that don't serve peanuts or, in some cases, peanut products:
[list][*]Frontier Airlines[/*:m][*]Jet Blue[/*:m][*]Northwest[/*:m][*]American Airlines[/*:m][*]Delta[/*:m][*]United, United Express[/*:m][/list:u]
Airlines that will/may make some accommodations:
Airlines that serve peanuts and make no guarantees or accommodations:
[list][*]Continental Airlines[/*:m][*]Mexicana Airlines[/*:m][*]Alaska Airlines[/*:m][*]Horizon Airlines[/*:m][*]America West[/*:m][/list:u]
The FAA doesn't regulate what foods airlines serve, and says it's up to passengers to carry medication if they have a severe allergy.
America West tried to find the family another airline, but the two they tried had similar peanut policies.
America West did refund the Georges' money.