Recently I flew a two-leg trip with United. The first leg was on their commuter line, United Express. I wanted to let you guys know that while United doesn't serve peanuts, United Express does, so be careful.
Actually, it was a snack mix containing peanuts, not a bag of peanuts, but just as bad really.
I wasn't expecting them to serve peanuts, so when I realized what they were doing, I asked the flight attendant if he could give something different to the people immediately around me. So the rows in front, back, and the people to the side were asked not to eat their peanuts on the flight, and most of the adults handed them back. But shortly afterward, my eyes started itching and watering, my throat swelled a bit, etc.
I can guess that either the kid behind me who kept her peanuts decided to eat them anyway, or the airborne particles from the other people on the plane reached me. Who knows. I was fine, took some benadryl and some alegra and everything was fine in a day or so.
On May 28, 2003
Where were you flying from/to? Had you inquired about what the snack was going to be prior to boarding? Or had they just ignored your concern?
On May 28, 2003
It wasn't their fault--they did everything I asked, and I wasn't very assertive about it. I hadn't made prior arrangements because I thought that United was peanut free. I really just didn't realize it until they handed me the snack and I saw what it was.
It had only been... what, two weeks since the allergy got worse? I didn't really know what I should do. The last time (before that) I was on a plane, the whole plane ate peanuts, and all I got was a bad rash. I had no idea I'd have throat and hay fever problems just from breathing it.
Actually, I had called United prior to the flight, and they told me they were definitely peanut free. I gave them my flight numbers, and I guess the guy on the other end of the line didn't realize that United Express did serve peanuts. But once I got there I really just wasn't assertive enough. I was a little embarrassed about it actually.
On May 30, 2003
I usually do not worry about flying United, but despite calls and inquiring at the gate, and assurances all the way that there were no nuts or peanuts...I ended up on a flight to Colorado last summer that served a cereal packet and trail mix type snack- both of which contained almonds. I ran up to the flight attendents and firmly stated our situation (my 5 year old son - anaphylactic to nut/peanuts. They were stunned and didn't know what to do --- one told me I shouldn't be flying, my son should be in a bubble, etc...The Purser came over to find out what was going on. She immediately had the flight attendents put the snacks away. She also chatted with me for a while about their policy and the fact that they are frequently serving things with nuts (not peanuts) now. Seems like it is almonds and luckily my son is not allergic to almonds. (altho didn't know that at that time)
Anyway- she emphasized that the only person that can really give you the accurate information on the food and snacks is the Purser. And it would be the Purser who determines whether to hand out the particular problem item or not on that flight.
So, for now on, when we fly-I always tell the reservation folks, call special services or customer service, and I always ask for the Purser when I step into the plane.
The flight home from Colorado was great. I asked for the Purser, told him the issue, he said, "No problem, we just won't serve the snack or cereal pack. It is not a big deal." (I don't know if I am spelling Purser correctly...it is the person in charge of the flight attendents for the particular flight)
I am sorry you reacted with such a bad rash. It must have been terribly uncomfortable and frightening.
On May 31, 2003
I really appreciate your sympathy. It was very, very uncomfortable, but it wasn't scary since I didn't have any idea at the time about anaphalaxis. In fact, I didn't even make the connection with the peanuts till after the flight was over... at the time I didn't know I'd become allergic to them.
Reading this site, it's hard enough having a PA, but I think being a parent of a PA child must be even harder. But I'm pleased that some airlines don't serve, well don't serve peanuts at least, and that many schools are accomodating... I think a lot of people's gut reaction to learning someone else has a problem that might infringe on them in some way is, "So what?" Why are people so mean.
On May 31, 2003
One more thing--thanks for the information, now I know who to ask for when doublechecking everything. And I'm sorry about your flight... especially that rude flight attendant! At least the Purser was helpful...