Southwest was horrible!


Here's the problem. Sometimes they're great. Sometimes they're not. Their communication glitch landed my son in the ER, barely able to breathe. When so many other airlines have removed peanuts altogether, why risk your child's health? We didn't discover the second leg of our flight was serving peanuts until half the flight was served. When we told them, they continued serving to the rest of the flight. On the first leg, they didn't serve peanuts, but peanut wrappers were in the magazine pocket and crumbs on the tray tables. This is an airline that does not take the allergy seriously.

On Nov 12, 2004

Wow. I am really sorry to hear that you son had a reaction due to their communication glitch and refusal to remove/discontinue serving peanuts to the travelers after they were informed of your child's allergy.

Do you have any of these correspondances in writing (email)? Names of those that you spoke to in flight, while booking your tickets etc?

If you haven't already, I would be writing a scathing letter to the President of SW, calling their CAO office, and including a medical billing statement of your ER costs (I would not ask them to pay this cost unless you bring in a lawyer to draft the note).

Include your flight number, dates and time of travel, age of your son, everything that you communicated to them. Clearly someone dropped the ball since they accommodated your request in the first leg of your trip so the communication was there at some time or another.

Please keep us posted of your process/progress and responses back from SW on this matter.

Somewhere in this folder, there is a great letter (drafted by a father and lawyer) to one of the major airlines that you should review before you draft your letter. I wish I could pull it up for you right now, but I can't remember who the poster was, but I think that it was drafted sometime within the last 6 months.

On Nov 12, 2004

I found this link on the FAAN website to contact the Department of Transporation about problems flying with food allergies.

I think that when the issue of airlines not serving peanuts came up several years ago one of the reasons used to justify continuing to serve peanuts was that there was not very much evidence of actual incidences of reactions, so it is very important that any reaction is reported and documented.


On Nov 12, 2004

I had the total opposite experience. I told every person that I came in contact with before we boarded the flight. When we got on board I told the first person ( we pre-boarded which gave us extra time to check in with the crew). They were very caring and friendly and when they served drinks they handed out pretzels in both directions of our flight. Nobody had a problem with this.

We are in California and took a very short flight to LA but all the people I encountered seemed to be well aware of peanut allergies.

I am sorry you had such a negative experience- I would follow-up with the airlines.

On Nov 13, 2004

Please read my post under SW airlines warning (with the thumbs down). Yes, communication is a real problem for this airline. I will never let my son fly SW airline again even though he did not have a reaction. There is a total lack of communication between the desk and the flight attendants. I do hope you write a letter and please detail everything. SW needs to know that their lack of communication is causing serious reactions. I wrote a letter and did not ask for anything other than for better communication between the passenger, desk and flight crew. I received vouchers for $200 in SW airline tickets which I gave to a family member. Sorry, but $200 doesn't cover the loss of life should one of their passengers find a stray peanut on the floor. A very likely scenario.

------------------ Mary Kay

On Nov 14, 2004

Thanks for the replies. I have written Southwest and also the Dept. of Transportation. Southwest is willing to refund our fare and medical expenses. Perhaps I should draft a letter to other airlines if some don't believe such reactions actually occur. In this case, we witnessed a communication to Operations giving flight numbers for both legs of our flight and felt that the communication was successful when the first leg of the flight was handled appropriately. It was too late when we realized what had happened on the second leg. I guess you really have to hound them every step of the way in such a situation. After reading this website, I'm realizing my son (then only 22 mos.) is one of the few to actually have a reaction. I want to know how I can use our experience to best effect change in the airlines, so others will be protected. I would appreciate any more input and will post a new thread requesting information. Thanks!

On Nov 14, 2004

Wow, I don't know how I missed this thread.

I'm so sorry you had this experience - I know how terrifying it must have been, because it happened to us when my son was 3 1/2, on US Air. My son didn't need to be hospitalized, but it was terrifying nevertheless. How is your son now?

Please keep up your letter writing campaign. How about sending letters to airline trade publications as well? (Don't know why that never occurred to me until now - I should have done it 7 years ago [img][/img] ). I'll try to locate some, and will post the contact information; I'll write too. This just has to stop. [img][/img]

Did they have to land the plane, or did you make it to your destination? Did they aid you in transferring him to the hospital? Just curious - not trying to make you relive the trauma.


On Nov 14, 2004

Just to answer questions regarding our experience . . . Luckily our son did not react until the end of the flight. We gave him Benadryl before the flight (for sleep purposes, I confess!)and we think that actually bought us some time (pelase note, however, I have read use of an antihistamine can actually mask a reaction to the sufferers detriment, so I am not advising this approach). He awoke at the end of the flight and began rubbing his eyes, saying "my eyes, my eyes." As we carried him off the plane he began sneezing huge sneezes of clear mucous that covered his chin. Not trying to be too graphic, but thought details might help others identify reactions. Once we got in the car, he had difficulty breathing and was wheezing. It wasn't until that point that we realized he was having a reaction. We then went to the ER where he was rushed in for treatment and they noted his chest retracting with every breath. We were really rather ignorant and did not use the Epipen before we reached the ER. Our allergist told us in such a situation ALWAYS use the Epipen. Although jabbing your child in the thigh seems harsh, it is no threat and will protect his/her life until you get to the ER. We certainly learned many lessons that night.

On Nov 14, 2004

One more thing . . . Sorry to go on, but I hope our experience may help others learn . . At the ER, our son was given albuterol and prednisone and held for observation. Our allergist told us they should have used epinephrine before anything else. He also said ERs are notorious for mishandling allergy cases. So, I guess push for epinephrine (or do it yourself) in such situations.

On Nov 21, 2004

I can confirm that SW does NOT communicate. We told everyone we came in contact with about DD's PA. When we called for reservations, when we checked in at the main counter, when we went to the gate counter for our boarding card. We were in the front row, and what do they break out??? The bags of peanuts!!! My dh about had a fit. Thank god we saw them start, because they were able to take all 6 bags back from the passengers before they were opened. They then apologized and said they had (obviously) not been notified. We got a letter, and for Mary Kay, $600 in vouchers. I also agree that is not worth my dd's life. Besides, we also found a peanut under dd's seat. I hate PA.

------------------ Lori Jo,

Rose, 7-31-02, PA Beatrice & Georgia, 8-14-99

On Nov 30, 2004

SW is a crapshoot but 95% of our experiences have been excellent. We do all the usual stuff (contact Customer relations, tell the ticket counter person & the gate agent). The most important step is to inform the flight attendant upon boarding because they only get word about 50% of the time. Usually they say "Really? one told us about you". Anyway, the Flight attendants are usually very accomodating and will lock up all the peanuts bags as soon as we tell them. It's best if you can inform the lead attendant since the others sometimes forget to tell their colleagues.

On Nov 30, 2004


Originally posted by zigo230: [b] The most important step is to inform the flight attendant upon boarding because they only get word about 50% of the time. Usually they say "Really? one told us about you". [/b]

We're beginning to wonder if it's just SOP (standard operating procedure) that the flight attendants with ANY airline just use this line of "Really? . . . no one told us . . ." as a time/aggravation saving mechanism for the airline ( & the lazy-a$$ flight attendants).

Things that you make you go hmmmmmm. . .

Before anyone jumps in my chili about this -- DH is prior airline pilot, so we do know how it "supposedly" works. (Like there's any rules anymore, except how the "security" supposedly works wonders, but I'm heading off topic & am not in the mood for that pile of doo-doo.) [img][/img]


Edited to fix the freakin' bold, unsuccessfuly.

[This message has been edited by ajas_folks (edited November 30, 2004).]

On Dec 9, 2004

Please expalin the incident in detail. Did they have to divert the plane?Expalin the trip to the hospital,treatment, any offer from SWA to pay for the costs etc. I want to go into the travel industry and this can help me if I decide to be a Special Needs Coordinator for an airline. Thanks. If you don't feel comfortable posting the details here please feel free to PM me with the story and how it was miscommunicated I can learn so much from these msitakes. Thanks again.

On Dec 9, 2004

Sorry i spoke too soon saw the details on an earlier post but would love to know more specifiics thanks.

On Apr 13, 2005

I've had both good and bad experiences over the past year w/ Southwest. I fly alot for business (I'm 30 w/ a severe PA).

My bad experience consisted of the main flight attendant announcing to the entire plane that they could not serve peanuts and who I was. There were a lot of angry passengers at me. but I dealt w/ it.

I have had rather good experiences w/ Southwest though, especially since their new procedure went into place, however, I take it as totally my responsibility to call ahead, have my reservation notated, get there 2 hours early, have all legs of my flight marked, talk to the gate staff, and talk to the flight attendants and explain the airborne problem and that I need to clean my seat. I have only had a small allergy problem when wearing short sleeves and forgot to wipe my seat (contact hive, no biggie).

In particular, you can request the "board early" sleeve, and find the head flight attendant. Explain the allergy. Explain you have benadryl and an epipen in your bag. Explain you may need to change your seat if the person sitting next to you has peanuts or a PB&J sandwich. Since you are the first on...when someone sits next to you, TELL THEM about your allergy and if they are ok to sit next to you.

I read American's meal menu, and see it is basically peanut free (except for the trail mix) --- I'm flying them in a few weeks and will let you all know what happened.

Oh - a nice fail safe is to take with you an allergen facemask, benadryl, and an epipen.


------------------ 30-year old survivor of sever peanut/tree nut allergy

On Jul 2, 2005

I fly SW pretty frequently, almost every month, and I as well as my daughter are PA.

I noticed last week on my SW flight they handed me a slip of paper to notify the flight attendant that I was PA.

This is a great improvement. I have had many many circumstances when I would tell the gate person of my PA and they had no clue of it when I got on the plane.

SW is a bit of a risk, I would certainly preboard and wipe everything down.

Oh, I have also had on a number of occasions the flight crew make the announcement that there would be no peanuts served due to a PA. You would not believe the fuss that causes on the plane. I believe they should stock pretzles on the plan end not mention it to the passagers. On one flight they handed out peanuts as people left the plane which I thought was a good compromise.

On Jul 21, 2005

I too had a great experience with SW. We flew from Indianpolis to Orlando. I was told to take the earliest am flights, because they do not serve peanuts until the 10am flights. they also told me to call 24 hours ahead to make note on our flight. I did call 24 hours ahead, and I called 3 differnet times that day. When we got to the airport, and I walked up to the boarding pass area, the SW worker looked at me, before I gave her my name, and said," you are the woman with the 2 children with peanut allergy." I was so relieved. She said the removed all peanuts from the plane. I still told the attendant when we boarded as well. I was also told by SW that they will be eliminating peanuts soon. Same deal on our return flight. I think it is a matter of being very persistent, especially with the airlines that are willing to work with you. It also might be a matter of talking to just the right person. I do remember when I booked the flight, then called back, I got a different response from the 2nd person I spoke with. Which then prompted me to call several times to have them mark our flight with peanut allergy. Hope this helps. It is not a perfect situation I know, but for us at least, we have never had a problem with SW.