What is responsibility for airlines that DON\'t serve peanuts

Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 12:53am
kelly01's picture
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Joined: 03/19/2001 - 09:00

Something in another thread got me thinking.

If you are flying on an airline that does not serve peanuts (ie, AirTran) is it their responsibility to make sure other passengers do not bring peanuts on the plane?

Whenever we have flown, our first choice is to select an airline that doesn't serve peanuts. We also double check prior to boarding that the airline still does not serve peanuts (things change, as we all know!). Once that criteria is satisfied, we board the plane and feel the rest is up to us.

How far do you feel that the airlines have to go if they do not serve nuts? Do you think it is also their responsibility to make sure no other passengers bring on nuts?

I am curious to see responses because we always felt that if the airline was peanut-free, then they were already doing their part. However, I am always open to seeing other peoples perspectives.

Thanks!

Kelly

Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 1:23am
Adele's picture
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Joined: 01/31/2005 - 09:00

Hi Kelly,
The airlines cannot regulate what food you bring on board as long as it isn't a security threat. Even gels and liquids can be bought once you are through security, and brought onboard.
Most or all airlines will tell you that even if they don't serve peanuts, they can't stop passengers from bringing their own peanut products on board and eating them.
I've heard of a few instances where a flight attendant has made a PA, explaining that there is a peanut allergic person on board, and if you have your own peanuts, please refrain from eating them on board.
You are at the mercy of the flight crew as to whether or not they would make this announcement for you. My guess is that most cabin crews would refuse.

Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 1:32am
Sandra Y's picture
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Joined: 08/22/2000 - 09:00

Also, even airlines that don't serve peanuts as snacks will not guarantee meals that are safe from peanut cross contamination. No peanut snacks does not equal peanut-free. But in my opinion, no peanut snacks is a huge step in the right direction. We try to fly on no-peanut-snack airlines, but we never let our PA son eat the meals offered on board. We always bring his food.

Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 1:42am
shayesmom's picture
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Joined: 03/26/2007 - 09:00

Hi, I'm new here, but wanted to chime in on this one as we're traveling internationally for the first time in Aug w/our 7-yr-old PA/TreeNutA dd and it's all foremost in my mind.
Every time we fly we produce a letter from dd's allergist stating that her allergies are airborne and politely ask the head flight attendant to make an announcement requesting that passengers not open any nut-containing snacks that they may have brought on board due to a potentially life-threatening situation for someone on board. They are *adamant* about the fact that they can't make any guarantees and we express our complete understanding of that, along with our undying gratitude. We have never been refused, and only one person has even had any kind of attitude about it.
I don't know if they'll do it for an 8+ hr trans-Atlantic flight though. I'm thinking about getting her one of those little paper masks that people wear for mowing the lawn, or vacuuming. Anyone know if those help?
Thanks!

Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 2:25am
kandomom's picture
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Joined: 01/12/2006 - 09:00

"How far do you feel that the airlines have to go if they do not serve nuts?"
I feel that if an airline does not serve nuts- they are doing all that they can regarding peanut/nut allergy concerns while flying. It would be fabulous if the standard policy across the board is to make an announcement asking people to refrain from opening peanut/nut snacks due to an allergic person on board.
"Do you think it is also their responsibility to make sure no other passengers bring on nuts?"
I do not think it is the airline's responsibility to ensure other passengers do not bring peanuts/nuts on board.
It would be great if they could make an announcement asking people to refrain from eating any peanut/nut products they may have brought on board. If an allergic person is on board. But we know this does not always happen.

Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 3:14am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

I think if an airline doesn't serve peanuts, that is where their responsibilty ends. However, I think it should be a common courtesy (not responsibilty) to make an announcement asking passengers to refrain from eating peanuts in flight. However, since airlines serve very little food these days, and some passengers may have brought only peanut-based foods (since they require no refrigeration, are easy to carry, and are nutritious for most people) I feel the airline should not be expected to enforce that request.
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[url="http://www.the3day.org/boston07/deedaigle"]http://www.the3day.org/boston07/deedaigle[/url]

Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 4:23am
yuck2nuts's picture
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Joined: 02/28/2002 - 09:00

I think it raises an interesting legal question. We were lucky that the 3 peanut-eating people sitting right next to us (on 2 different AirTran flights last week) put away their peanuts when I asked them, but what if they had refused? How willing are airlines to take on the liability (of having to - God forbid - deal with making an emergency landing if a bad reaction occurs)?
I think that some airlines are aware of this possibility more than others and that is why they are more willing to make the announcement. They know they can't prevent people from eating nuts, but they will do everything in their power to limit it as much as possible.
I think that the environment of an airplane (i.e., there is no place to go...you are stuck there no matter what) raises some interesting legal issues. I wonder if this issue were pushed to its legal limit if we (the PA folks) would be the losers because the airlines would say that they cannot guarentee our safety and cannot afford the liability of having us on board, so it would be "PA people please don't fly with us."
Do airlines *have* to make accomodations for other types of handicaps under the disability act or since they are private companies they can can make whatever accomodations they choose?
I too am interested in this topic.

Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 8:11am
Corvallis Mom's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

I know that such emergency landings, while rare, [i]do[/i] happen. Our next door neighbor was actually ON a flight that had an emergency landing for peanut anaphylaxis a few years ago. This is genuine-- no friend of a friend here.
But here's the kicker for me. Airlines are [i]not bound by ANY LAW[/i] to land that airplane for any reason other than a scheduled arrival. Not even medical emergencies. They usually [i]will[/i] of course, since most emergencies involve a clear life-threatening medical problem...
The reason I know this is that several years ago, a family (I'm thinking it was in California) sued an airline over the death of the asthmatic father on-board.... and it involved the flight crew's refusal to alter the flight plan for him. He [i]died[/i] and the flight crew was held blameless. This is the case that made it inconceivable to DH and I to ever get on a flight with DD.
You fly [i]at your own risk.[/i] Legally. No matter what your medical history. Push this one and you'll be told you are unfit to fly, in the opinion of the airline. At which point they can deny you boarding (this has actually happened to a few people on these boards en route to a destination)...

Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 9:37am
ajas_folks's picture
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Joined: 04/28/2000 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by Corvallis Mom:
[b]I know that such emergency landings, while rare, [i]do[/i] happen. Our next door neighbor was actually ON a flight that had an emergency landing for peanut anaphylaxis a few years ago. This is genuine-- no friend of a friend here.
But here's the kicker for me. Airlines are [i]not bound by ANY LAW[/i] to land that airplane for any reason other than a scheduled arrival. Not even medical emergencies. They usually [i]will[/i] of course, since most emergencies involve a clear life-threatening medical problem...
The reason I know this is that several years ago, a family (I'm thinking it was in California) sued an airline over the death of the asthmatic father on-board.... and it involved the flight crew's refusal to alter the flight plan for him. He [i]died[/i] and the flight crew was held blameless. This is the case that made it inconceivable to DH and I to ever get on a flight with DD.
You fly [i]at your own risk.[/i] Legally. No matter what your medical history. Push this one and you'll be told you are unfit to fly, in the opinion of the airline. At which point they can deny you boarding (this has actually happened to a few people on these boards en route to a destination)...[/b]
OK, will try to get this right the first time I post, knowing that I'm the spouse of aircrew & not an FAA qualified pilot. Will try to use "civilian" type language &/or correctly translate from the jargon that pilots use as I post this. Might not get it right first try. Might be different policies & procedures USA FAA versus other countries' regulations. Surely will be different airline to airline in USA.
DH is currently UAL pilot, on military leave.
Has flown commercially 1999 - 2003 for regional airline, parcel hauler, and major passenger carrier.
FWIW, this "to land or not" policy as referred to above, is left up to each specific Airline as to its policy & implementation by the FAA (per my DH, qulified airline pilot).
When there is an inflight medical emergency, the aircrew (cockpit AND "back end" AKA flight attendants) coordinate with dispatch and then the airline via dispatch contacts its "on call" physician to determine seriousness, etc. At UAL, the FA would info the Captain in cockpit & the cockpit crew would then directly contact dispatch. [Typically and usually, this is the way it would go. Bizzare situation, like 9/11, well, all bets are off on how it would exactly work.] This is their "medical support plan" to determine seriousness of actual situation and how best to proceed -- "to land or not to land" -- and obviously, there would be flight-related factors such as, but not limited to, nearest safe airfield & can it support this aircraft, the weather, fuel considerations, and so on.
In general, a long-standing, more major airline carrier (UAL, DAL, American) might have a better developed and supported set of emergency procedures and physician support than say, a newer, low cost (fly by wire, oh I shouldn't have said that) carrier like Jet Blue. But the airline industry is changing & everybody is cutting costs, so I'm not sure if this generality holds water anymore.
Maybe it really never did.
Air crews make expert decisions all day, every day. Sometimes air crews make terrible decisions. Sometimes the system and emergency procedures are in desperate need of overhaul: airline-wide, nation-wide.
CorvallisMom -- I, personally, would be interested in reading any public details of the incident you've described. I think it might be helpful to anyone here to learn what we might need to do in flight to advocate for a family member or fellow passenger in order to communicate the severity of inflight medical emergency. And potentially influence, in positive way, the push for emergency landing if need be.
In all facets of our lives, we, the PA community have our eyes opened in a way the "general public" does not regarding all sorts of things -- from what is [i] really [/i] in our food to how our public education system [i] really [/i] (won't, in some cases) accommodate our LTFA kids, to when an airlines [i] really [/i] will land for medical emergency.
Happy to come back to this topic again. FWIW, there ARE others here with direct-airline experience, as FAs & pilots & spouses of pilots & FAA officials . . . . I'm sure others have valuable input. Please add it here.
~Elizabeth
[This message has been edited by ajas_folks (edited March 26, 2007).]

Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2007 - 2:30pm
Corvallis Mom's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

This is the specific case I am thinking of.... it seems that the US supreme court eventually became involved. The story of that airline flight is really horrific.
[url="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2004/02/25/BAGN457OSD1.DTL"]http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2004/02/25/BAGN457OSD1.DTL[/url]
The case law that Olympic Airlines used included US aviation law and precedent regarding pre-existing medical conditions.

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