Hello and welcome. As the parent of a food allergic child, I try to control her environment as much as I can, but when it comes to flying, I have no control. Instead, I have to rely on the goodwill of flight attendants to ensure a safe trip. In the past, I’ve had great assistance from airline employees, but this doesn’t seem to be the case any longer.
In November, my family and I flew from Chicago to Phoenix early one Saturday morning. When we boarded the flight, I promptly told the flight attendants about my daughter’s allergies, including the fact that she had had an allergic reaction to nuts on board a flight two years ago. They told me that they would be warming mixed nuts in both the front and back ends of the plane to serve to their first class passengers. I asked them if they could serve something else. They refused saying they couldn’t deny their first class passengers their warm nuts. I was then told that if I didn’t feel comfortable flying we could get off the plane. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and I felt as though I had just landed in the middle of a Saturday Night Live skit. The absurdity of it all. I gave my daughter benadryl before we even took off and prayed for the best.
Upon our return flight home, I didn’t dare ask for any special accommodations, but I did ask a flight attendant what had changed since we had last flown. She told me that the airlines were trying to upgrade their offerings in first class to attract higher paying passengers. These upgraded offerings apparently meant warm nuts. She then told me that the general attitude among airline staff had become “colder” to those with nut allergies. We certainly sensed it.
The time has come when something needs to be done with regards to the nut issue on board flights. There are currently 4.4 million people in the U.S. with nut allergies alone, and businesses aren’t required to accommodate them in any way. Compare that to the 1.6 million people who use wheelchairs. These individuals are protected under the ADA.
While I don’t wish to label our food/nut allergic children as disabled, I do think, from time to time, they need special accommodations and protections, especially when they’re flying in cramped quarters, 35,000 feet above ground and miles away from medical assistance.
I’ll be writing more on this topic soon, so stay tuned. I will post every other Wednesday.
If you have had a reaction on board a flight, please send me your story. I would love to hear how you handled your situation.
Safe Travels —