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Peanut Allergies and Flying


Imagine sitting on a multi hour flight thousands of feet in the air when the person next to you, or your peanut allergic child, opens a bag of peanuts. Imagine that everyone on the plane is opening a bag of peanuts at once. For those with peanut allergy this is a real fear. A fear that causes many to choose to drive or take a train or bus to their destination instead of flying.

It was recently announced that the Canadian Transportation Agency has ordered Air Canada to create a formal policy that includes nut- and peanut-free “buffer zones” on its airplanes when a person on board is allergic to these items.

The airline will not serve nuts or peanuts in the buffer zone and will ask those sitting in the area to also refrain from eating nuts or peanuts. These buffer zones are only available with advance notice of the allergy.

This ruling follows several complaints to the CTA as well as a strong lobbying campaign by Allergic Living Magazine. It's a huge step in the right direction for the peanut allergy community, though many still feel that nuts and peanuts should not be served at all.

Ruth Smith is the mother of a child with multiple life threatening food allergies
and founder of Best Allergy Sites: a food allergy directory and resource guide.

By BestAllergySites on Mon, 01-25-10, 16:19

Thank you Nicole. It is disheartening to hear the general public fight about their right to eat peanuts. I wish it would advertised more that in the event of an allergic reaction the plane would need to be grounded and delayed.

Maybe then people would take the issue seriously. :)


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By Banzhafb on Mon, 01-25-10, 17:01

The following is an email I sent to Delta since their policy does not address peanut dust on the seat you occupy. Their response follows:

I have a severe allergy to Peanuts (the primary
snack on Delta flights)
and have complained to both gate agents and flight attendants about
peanuts served on all
of your flights. On all occasions I was politely told that I could
request that 3 rows in front
and behind my seat not be served peanuts. This policy reflects your
total misunderstanding
of severe allergies. First, this does not protect me from the people who
previously used my
seat and consumed peanuts. The crumbs and dust on the seat can cause
anaphylactic shock
with a risk of death. Second, the smell of peanuts three rows away can
cause a less severe
reaction, but is very uncomfortable.
"When Delta is
notified that an individual with a peanut allergy will be traveling, our
cabin service representatives are contacted and advised to board extra
pretzels. Our flight attendants are also informed to serve pretzels
instead of peanuts in the immediate area surrounding the customer's
seat. Additionally, gate agents are alerted in the event the passenger
wishes to preboard and cleanse the immediate seating area".

They are well intentioned, but they just don't get it. If their is peanut debris from a previous occupant of the seat, I am supposed to go on early and clean it up! Very frustrating

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By BestAllergySites on Wed, 01-27-10, 21:37

Thank you for sharing. We fly Air Tran when we can as they do not serve peanuts period.

Guests can still bring them on board--but at least they don't serve them.

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By NicoleMc on Mon, 01-25-10, 15:09

Hi Ruth,

I too thought it was great to see some movement in the right direction...I am one of those who wishes to see all nut products banned from flights.

Not sure if you have noticed some of the responses from the general public to this ruling. Very disheartening. People clearly just don't fully understand the dangers and how the nut allergy differs from some of the other food allergies out there.

The scenario you describe really hits home and I wish all those who object to this ruling could read your above post. Thank you for starting this thread...will be interesting to see what the Anaphylactic community thinks!!


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