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Roasting Nuts In-Flight: Is it Discrimination?

By June 22, 2011

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airplaneGina Clowes of Allergy Moms is frustrated. She purchased 4 tickets on American Airlines and then discovered that the airline has a practice of roasting nuts while in-flight.

Gina called the AA disability help line and requested that they leave off roasting nuts while her family was on board because of her son's severe nut allergy. Roasting nuts releases proteins into the air that have been documented to cause severe allergic reactions, and Gina didn't want to risk her son having a reaction mid-flight. Gina told the airline that it was fine to serve the nuts, just not roast them while the plane was in flight.

Sounds like a reasonable request - yet the response she got from the airline was that they would not alter their practice of roasting nuts, and they would not refund Gina's tickets, which cost $2200.

Clearly this is not great customer service. But is it even legal? The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) prohibits discrimination in airline service on the basis of disability. Food allergies are considered a disability when they "substantially limit one or more major life activities." Gina's son's allergies are severe enough that he requires a Section 504 plan at school, indicating that his allergies meet the legal definition of a disability.

Right now, airline policies vary on the type and extent of accommodation they will make for passengers with food allergies. Most airlines only have policies on peanut allergies because of the tradition of serving peanuts as in-flight snacks. If you have a severe allergy to another type of food, there may be no written policy that covers your situation.

What do you think? What are airlines required to do to accommodate their passengers with food allergies? Should airlines ban certain foods in-flight? Should they be required to issue refunds or make alternate travel plans for ticket holders who will not be safe on their planes? What should American Airlines do in this situation?

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Comments
June 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm
(1) Derek says:

I’ve sat through announcements on AA suggesting that no one eats nuts on the plane for the entire flight because someone with a special condition might have issues.

Frankly, someone who’s violently alergic to nuts and cant be within 100′ of them probably shouldnt be flying or leaving a bubble. Why do people have to subject everyone else on the flight to THEIR problems?

If a child or adult is that alergic to anything, a quick google search would have shown that they regularly roast nuts (not peanuts) in first class.

Whats next – no milk on the plane because someone might be allergic? No alcohol on the plane because an addict might be tempted? No wheat served because people are grain intolerant? No meat to be served because someone on the plane might get religiously offended?

Give us a break.

June 22, 2011 at 5:39 pm
(2) Lea says:

Roasting nuts is not equivalent to serving alcohol, consuming wheat or drinking milk because the roasting aerosolizes some of the proteins from the nuts which are then circulated throughout the cabin air. Each airline has complaint resolution official (CRO), typically one at each airport. At a minimum this official should be prepared to make arrangements to refund the ticket price for passengers with disabilities that the airline is unable or unwilling to accommodate.

June 22, 2011 at 6:01 pm
(3) cpb says:

Peanuts/tree nuts should definitely be banned from airplanes. This is a life-threatening issue and accomodations should be made or money refunded in full, including any extras taxes and fees. Being in an enclosed can at 30,000 feet or higher and serving or cooking these allergens is just plain (no pun intended) hateful. If someone reacts, there is no quick way to get to a hospital. People without these allergies can eat whatever they want after they land and be grateful that they can. Wish they would realize what a blessing they have in being able to eat whatever they want to without the risk of death. Maybe when or if they realize this–they will stop whining. The bottom line is this: No individual’s appetite is more important than another individual’s life.

June 22, 2011 at 7:59 pm
(4) Barbara Hill says:

Derek, I feel for you in all of your inconsideration due to lack of knowledge (otherwise known as ignorance). You Derek, now have the convenience of walking down an nice ramp at airports, because many disabled people cannot walk up stairs. You are benefitting from someone else’s life altering disability. Might you look at this from someone else’s perspective? People with food allergies are all around you, you probably just don’t know it. Their families and friends go to great lengths to try and help these kids live ‘as normal a life as possible.’ Their major life restrictions could be a minor inconvenience to someone like you on one flight in one short moment of your life. However, it is their right to fly safely, and they should not be denied service. No paying customer should have to fear breathing safe air on an airplane to take a flight for a funeral, wedding, operation, vacation or any other reason. Period. You can either try to dig into your soul and find a little empathy and compassion, or wait for legislation to move this in the right direction. Food allergies, as of now, are a part of this world. Hopefully there will be a reliable cure soon. And, for the record, nuts should not be roasted on a flight with anyone with nut allergies.

June 22, 2011 at 8:41 pm
(5) Karen says:

I’m glad you posted this information. I’ve been wanting to take my pet bees on vacation with me, but I was worried someone on the flight might be allergic to bee stings. They’re free-roaming bees, and keeping them in a cage during the trip would cause them too much stress. It’s good to know American Airlines will welcome me and my bees without concern.

June 22, 2011 at 8:53 pm
(6) safermom says:

with 1 in 17 kids under the age of 10 having a life-threatening food allergy -most of which are to peanuts I would think a little accommodating is necessary. This is the #1 growing disability with kids and babies. So if we take away 4 million kids and their families- Derek, you are basically understanding that a family of four will never travel, take a family vacation, visit the grandparents and cousins go on a class or team field trip across the country… Family of 4 x 4 million =16 million people that are not flying. Wonder if the airline industry would feel that crunch? Not to mention 4 million kids in a bubble that may be making decisions for you one day. Help us find a cure or donate to FAAN or FAI so we can share your peanuts and your normal life.

June 22, 2011 at 9:56 pm
(7) Joe Walker Anderson says:

While I empathize with the mom’s concern and this child wellbeing, I don’t think the airline needs change the policy of serving nuts on board as an accommodation to a passenger with a “disability”. First of all, the nuts are alread roasted they are only warmed up on a sealed tight oven; next, the air circulation system is designed to filter this “release of proteins” while nuts are roasted, however as outlined above now we know they were previously roasted; these are served only to the First/Premium Class cabin passengers only; doctors recommend, as a food allergy accommodation, nuts not to be served within certain distance, achieved by restricting nuts comsumption three rows front and back from the passenger with the allergy. I hope this helps the concern parent.

June 22, 2011 at 10:40 pm
(8) Kim says:

Life threatening food allergy is a legal disability. The use of quotes around the word is frankly offensive Mr. Anderson. I don’t imagine you would say that a person with no legs in a wheelchair has a “disability.” I believe this is because you and most people who do not live with this chronic disease and low sensitivity threshold do not understand that it effects every decision you make, every day, all the while knowing that if you make the wrong decision, you or your child could be harmed or even die. I’m sure you didn’t mean to sound so callous.

Sensitive individuals can and certainly do react from nuts being served in an enclosed cabin, roasted or not. There is nothing magical about sitting four rows back that makes it safe for ALL allergic individuals. Those of us with, or caring for someone with life threatening allergies know how to manage our allergies because we must do it every minute of everyday without mistakes. If Gina Clowes, an expert in her child’s allergy believes he needs this accommodation to fly safely, than I believe her son should be accommodated. No one will die from eating room temperature nuts in first class.

June 22, 2011 at 11:41 pm
(9) Miami RalphFDC says:

People who do not live with food allergies, simply do not get it. Those of us that do should listen carefully to their words. We have to bridge that gap between information that is out there and understanding. I am well versed in food allergies as a father of a son with severe peanut allergies, but I am also painfully aware of my own ignorance before my son was diagnosed 6 years ago.

More times than not, people are not purposefully insensitive. I honestly feel that if they understood, they would not give their seemingly insensitive opinions.

It is shameful that American Airlines felt it more important to roast nuts for a small group of first class passengers at the potential risk of another passengers life. Reason it as you all may want to, it is shameful. Someone dropped the ball, and doing so may not make a difference in anyone else’s life, but it may be all it takes to take the life of a food allergic person.

Our work continues!

June 23, 2011 at 10:10 am
(10) Jeanette Bradley says:

Derek:
When I was writing this article, I tried to find information about American Airlines nut-roasting policy on their website. It took me 30 minutes of searching their website to find one sentence about it – to find this sentence, you have to click through 3 screens and then scroll to the bottom of the page. It is not clear from this statment that the nuts are actually being heated in-flight.

The sentence is under the heading “Complimentary First Class Food Service, and reads:
“A light snack may include our signature warm mixed nuts and baked on board cookies. ”

There is nothing on the special diets page about the roasted nuts, and nothing in their food allergy policy about roasted nuts.

I don’t think that it is general knowledge, or even easy to find in a google search, that AA roasts nuts in-flight. The only way one would know this is if one had flown with AA in the past.

Mr. Anderson: Do you work for AA? Are the nuts really in an airtight oven with a special filter and venting sysmtem? I have never heard of such an oven before and I am really curious about how this works, especially in-flight.

Is the air in the first class cabin kept seperate from the rest of the air on the plane on AA planes? I have never flown on a plane before in which there was more than a curtian between first class and the rest of the cabin.

June 23, 2011 at 10:45 am
(11) Gina Clowes says:

Jeannette,
I found out about the roasting as I was flying from speaking at a food allergy conference on American, I was overwhelmed by the smell of roasted nuts.

I was surprised that they would do this (knowing that cooking aerosolizes the particles)

I naively thought, that I could call and request that they simply not roast them while in flight. I had no problem with them serving the nuts at room temperature.

Had they agreed to this, or if American Airlines had clearly stated this on the page where they discuss allergies, we would not be having this conversation.

I don’t believe that most First Class passengers would refuse to fly American if occasionally their nuts were not warmed.

I DO believe that the growing community of food allergic children and their families will choose other airlines going forward.

I think Terri Mauro said it better than I ever could:
http://specialchildren.about.com/b/2011/06/22/do-businesses-that-dis-special-needs-realize-how-many-of-us-there-are.htm

June 23, 2011 at 11:07 am
(12) Elizabeth says:

Just some additional information via family member who is pilot at United Airlines — UAL also serves something similar so far as heated nuts & likely there are some similarities with AA on this subject:

He states that the oven used on United for this is a convection oven . . . not microwave (as I had thought previously). Has metal face/door & not glass. Recalls that the convection oven uses bleed air and is fairly enclosed system — meaning exhausts/off ports air directly overboard. Though there would be some retained odor and certainly exhaust to the recirculated cabin air as oven contents are accessed when it is opened by flight attendants. I do not know what sort of aerosolized risk this might pose, though to be sure it might.

Understand that these ovens are in the galley. The galley is located in different places on aircraft, depending on the aircraft: fore, mid-ship, aft.

Additionally, with this nut service would come the added risk of having the flight attendants handling/touching for service (as well as for eating personally, if they choose) . . . and now the FA may also be serving beverages to the food allergic individual — or touching or helping in some other fashion — without having washed hands. So, cross-contamination risk and residue risk, beyond what might be cleaned up in pasesnger’s immediate area at pre-board.

Hope this is helpful too.

June 23, 2011 at 11:48 am
(13) Jeanette Bradley says:

Gina: Thanks for commenting and pointing out that you had only asked for the nuts to be served room-termperature, not asked to have them banned from the airplane (or airline!)

I hope that AA will reconsider its stance and either book you on another airline or make its planes safe for your family!

June 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm
(14) FJ says:

Is it REALLY that important that some passengers get warm nuts???? Sounds ridiculous to me…. If there is just the slightest chance of someone having an allergic reaction because of the allergens being airborne, I’d say do away with this unnecessary “service”. Let’s be considerate to the needs of others!

June 23, 2011 at 7:41 pm
(15) JW Anderson says:

I agree that some accommodation needs to be in place for this child; however why ask an airline to modify a business model when is the parents responsibility to research if the accommodation is available prior to purchasing these tickets; now seek for a business to perform an accommodation that inconveniences other passengers. I am all for accommodating another passenger with a need, however I don’t want my travel experience to be disrupted, there is a standard of service I expect and pay premium fares for it. I choose to do business this way. I don’t ask for the business to be delivered in a certain way.

June 23, 2011 at 8:39 pm
(16) LE says:

Derek and Joe–you both are so clueless.

June 23, 2011 at 11:02 pm
(17) no nuts for me says:

JW-As has been stated several times, AA’s nut roasting policy is not common knowledge and very difficult to locate on their website. Ms. Clowes realized that nuts were being roasted when she was on another AA flight and smelled the nuts. By that time she had already purchased her tickets. AA refuses to refund her $2200 and they also will not accommodate her request to serve room temperature nuts. Not ban nuts from the flight, just not warm them. Special ovens??? Special ventilation??? Why risk at the very least having to make an emergency landing and inconvenience all the passengers and at most cost someone their life?

I’d like to ask where you received your medical degree specializing in food allergies since you seem to be so “knowledgeable” about food allergies, nut proteins and aerolization. You really have this all figured out. Maybe you will be the one to find a cure. Until you or a loved one has lived with a life threatening food allergy you will never understand.

June 23, 2011 at 11:36 pm
(18) JW Anderson says:

Allow me to address some of these concerns; First, AA’s policy is not clearly stated online, someone calls in and ask before buying tickets because there’s a child wellbeing concern. Therefore, AA does not have to refund their tickets because the consumer failed at securing the needed information/accommodation prior to purchase it. Second, I was trained as a LCRO, for a foreign passenger air carrier serving the United States, few years back and I had the opportunity to reasonably accommodate customers with personal needs, preferences and disabilities; and I keep myself updated. Third, I have a food allergy myself, personally I don’t go to a seafood restaurant and ask them not to serve shellfish while I am dining there just because I selected it as the closest venue to hold a business meeting. I will drive further or pay more for a safer place to hold my business meeting.

June 23, 2011 at 11:44 pm
(19) JW Anderson says:

By the way; these nuts are loaded into the plane on service carts that are held at very low temperatures to prevent food spoilage, these will need to be place in an oven just to be brought to room temperature, and cannot be consumed at this low temperature.

June 24, 2011 at 12:21 am
(20) Alexandra says:

I’m wondering is a first class passenger had severe food allergies would they still be warming up the nuts for the others in first class?
My daughter has severe peanut,tree nut and seed allergies and we are flying next week with AA, had I known I would be not be flying with them!!!!
Money talks and in this economy I can take my business elsewhere!!!
I’ve tried to explain life threatening food allergies to people by using the example of having bees on a plane with someone allergic to bee strings and just hoping it doesn’t land on you and you get bit. OOPS at 30,000 ft serving nuts or bring pb&j sandwiches to eat on the plane is just being selfish and potentially harmful! Y
Yeah ,AA doesn’t want to stop serving heated nuts to it’s first class passengers not to inconvenience them but having to land for an emergency would certainly be disruptive for all.
What is the pilot had life threatening peanut/tree nut allergies would they still be serving heated nuts and what about cross contamination when they are served their meals after the nuts were handled?
We need to all work to found a cure,and it takes a village .

June 24, 2011 at 2:10 am
(21) Josy says:

“Inconvenience”. GFB anyone should be inconvenienced these days. My son’s peanut and peanut oil allergies are so severe, he is contact sensitive…can not even touch it. So, flying is just not an option for us. It’s painful to miss family, events etc. I know people are just ignorant to severe food allergies. But it’s the “inconvenience” of being empathetic to another human being that just makes me sick to my stomach. When your 8 year old child has collapsed at a mall, unconscious from his blood pressure dropping and is turning blue…you have your epi pen and you’re calling 911 and praying…and you get dirty looks from people having to step around you because you’re blocking their way…it’s just sad.

If I allow my sarcasm to get the best of me, I’d say it would be more inconvenient to have to do an emergency landing and missing a final destination because someone is having a medical emergency in the back of the plane than having to eat room temperature nuts.

Poster Derek would have made a good argument, but I was stopped by the “leaving a bubble” comment, how insenstive and nasty. I suppose Derek would be one giving me a dirty look stepping over my child who is dieing in the middle of the mall because I had the gull to subject him to our “problems” at the mall.

Frankly, that’s why I would never attempt to fly until there are food free flights that I would gladly pay double for, because of people like Derek. I don’t want to subject my family to “their problems”, to their “disability” – lack of compassion and empathy. I think that’s the fastest growing allergy out there…an allergy to sacrafice, compassion, and empathy.

June 24, 2011 at 8:22 am
(22) Martha Stewardess says:

I’ve had numerous parents board a flight and immediately make demands about nut consumption during flight because their child is allergic.

Not ONE time have I ever witnessed a parent travel with any type of ‘protection’ for the child, like a surgical type mask or sanitary wipes.

If your child is dangerously allergic, the least responsible thing to do is protect your child by traveling with wipes to clean the seat, tray table, headphones, items in the seat-pocket of any nut dust. Remember, the passenger in the seat on the previous flight could have consumed pounds of nuts. There could be nut shrapnel all over the place.

Have the child wear a mask to protect him/her from nut dust in the event someone nearby absentmindedly opens up a Nutter-Butter.

Does parental pro-active protection ever happen? No. Instead the parent immediately makes demands of everyone else on board.

Let’s meet half way? I’ll be the nut enforcer on-board but you’ve got to at least try to pro-actively protect you child from nuts.

June 24, 2011 at 8:36 am
(23) Martha Stewardess says:

FJ says :
“Is it REALLY that important that some passengers get warm nuts???? Sounds ridiculous to me….”

FJ, you’ve said a mouthful! The airline I fly for also warms first class nuts. The frequent flyers are very picky about their nuts.

On occasion we may be unable to warm the nuts because we’ve got a busted oven or no room in the already packed oven because it’s crammed with meal items for the flight.

Serving room temperature nuts isn’t going to fly with these folks. They complain if their nuts aren’t heated! Or they refuse them and pout about it.

When a ‘gentlemen’ passenger complains, “my nuts are cold” I hand him a blanket and walk away. That’s how I roll.

June 24, 2011 at 9:16 am
(24) Laurie says:

To Derek,
As a mother of a severly allergic child I am very sorry to hear that you think that it is vitally important that you be able to consume nuts on a plane and that your right to do so should take precedent over a child’s right to fly on an air plan without risking their life. I have unfortunately encountered several people like you who also feel that our children should be restricted to attending segregated schools so that other children can eat peanut butter at school. The only thing that I can say is please try not to be so judgemental and discompassionate until you’ve walked a mile in mine or my son’s shoes!!! Living everyday with a life threatening allergy is hard enough for us.
Thank you!

June 24, 2011 at 9:37 am
(25) JW Anderson says:

@Martha Stewardess, thank you for pointing out how is the parents responsibility to proactively make sure their child is protected. Proactive, means to first make sure a specific mode of transportation for their family meets their needs before considering doing business with them. By the way, no airline serves or warms nuts on earlier flights whithin breakfast timeframes. This could help this kid. But don’t call it discrimination because an airline does not bend backwards for your children, I feel bad for these kids, I have allegies myself and I do not work for American Airlines, I just happen to merely prefer them to do business with because it meets my needs for transportation.

June 24, 2011 at 9:49 am
(26) Steward Jim says:

After 35 years as a flight attendant for AA, flying domestic and international, I have never had an incident with either a person having a peanut or other nut reaction on board. Then nuts are not roasted on board, they are warmed for about 5 minutes in a 275 degree oven. I have never had a complaint from anyone about an allergy. There may be a gentle smell of nuts in first class, but that is it. I’m also in the medical profession (yes, flight attendants also are very educated!) so understand the problems with food allergies. Don’t make this more than it is. I sympathize with those with allergies, but if every time someone requested that the nuts not be heated, there would be no time that they could be. Get a grip, deal with it, and move on. Oh, and you will find that other major airlines also serve warmed nuts in their first class cabins as well.

June 24, 2011 at 11:35 am
(27) foodallergies says:

I want to thank the flight attendants for your insight into how the nuts are heated on the plane, and what customer expectations are about the nuts. Since I am not someone who flies first-class, I had no idea that the roasted nuts were such a major part of the first class experience for business travelers.

Martha Stewardess you have some really good, practical suggestions for parents traveling with children with severe allergies. Wipes are essential, and families with children with food allergies should be allowed to board with other passengers that require special assistance so they can wipe down their seats. However, I do not believe that face masks are useful for preventing allergic reactions due to food allergies. Pollen allergies, yes, but not food allergies.

I did a little poking around and found that United and Delta (on certian flights) seem to serve warmed nuts in first-class, but as far as I can tell US Airways does not. The discount carries like Southwest also do not.

Flight attendants and frequest fliers please correct me if I am wrong – it is really hard to find this information on the airline websites.

United Airlines
“Flights longer than two hours (760 miles or more): For lunch, enjoy warm mixed nuts…”
http://www.united.com/page/article/0,6722,51501,00.html

Delta
http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/inflight_services/first_class/dining.jsp
“Flights between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles, and San Francisco: Enjoy our complimentary enhanced meal experience featuring warmed nuts,…”

June 24, 2011 at 11:47 am
(28) Amy says:

Steward Jim. It doesn’t really matter what your personal experience was or what you perceived it to be. That only accounts for you, not the millions of others who are forced to deal with allergies everyday. We recently discovered our son has a severe allergy to tree nuts and it is life-changing. I truly hope that all these ignorant and insensitive people that have left comments such as Jim like “get a grip and deal with it” will someday be placed in such a position as we are. I’m guessing you’re a guy who has little in his life to worry about besides himself. If watching a child go into anaphylactic shock and suffocate within minutes is “making more of it than it is”, then you don’t “sympathize with those with allergies.” You too are ignorant.

June 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm
(29) Judy Eakin says:

I have a food allergy that developed when I was forty. Through the kindness and support of my family and friends I have been able to change my eating habits and feel healthy for the first time in years. For parents trying to keep their children safe and healthy, it is a much more difficult journey. Small things like not serving nuts, being aware of cross contamination, and being compassionate about the struggles they face trying to protect their children makes all the difference.
Derek, I would not wish this difficulty on you, but I DO hope that you become close to someone that can bring some intelligence and compassion into your life. The support and open mindedness of others make this issue much easier to solve.
We have to look at this in a broad sense. Until forced there were not accomodations made for other individuals who had disabilities – housing had steps which didn’t provide for wheelchair accessibility, there were no sporting activities for children in wheelchairs. I am not hungry or homelss but I advocate for these populations to be given food and shelter. Does anyone want a child to die beacause they had no food or nowhere to stay warm? Of course not!
And I can’t imagine that if customers on American Airlines were made aware that their warm cashews could potentially cause a child, or adult, to die from the exposure that they would opt for freshly roasted nuts either!!!
Does the airline have enough courage to ask their customers? While informing them of the potential consequences?

June 24, 2011 at 1:41 pm
(30) JW Anderson says:

Judy, why American Airlines passengers have to adjust the way they do business? Comments above, show there are other carriers not offering nuts on board, why these parents can do business with them instead? Why can they select an earlier flight, a timeframe when warmed/roasted nuts are not offered? Is it too much to ask of these people to adjust their traveling schedule to find a balance between accommodating their health concerns and still provide to these other passengers?
Anyone care to respond?

June 24, 2011 at 4:53 pm
(31) Kim says:

JW Anderson, Yes, I would care to respond. There are laws against anti-discrimination in the United States of America. AA should have to change the way they do business to provide a reasonable accommodation for a person with a legally recognized disability. Just as ramps provide access for those in wheelchairs, a nut free environment provides access to air travel for a person with a food allergy. In 1973 when the Rehabilitation Act was passed businesses weren’t very happy to have to make renovations to give access to disabled people, but since we live in a nation that requires public places to accommodate disabled people they couldn’t just say, “Go to another mall or ballpark that doesn’t have stairs.” Saying “Go elsewhere, or drive” isn’t going to fly anymore (pun intended). There are 6 million children with food allergies in the U.S. and the numbers continue to grow. Just like in 1973, businesses are going to need to change the way to do business.

It isn’t all about you. I wish you knew how self centered you sound. A grown man clinging to his rights to warm nuts? How about the rights of others to breathe and remain on this planet? The purpose of air travel is to get from point A to point B, not to eat warm nuts. Your restaurant analogy is apples to oranges and makes no sense whatsoever.

June 24, 2011 at 5:38 pm
(32) Missy Ashley says:

Is anyone offended over ‘Martha Stewardess’ instructing parents how to take care of their children with life-threatening food allergies? As if we don’t fight this battle EVERY day! She has NEVER seen a parent wipe down a seat? You have to be kidding me? We KNOW how to keep our children safe, otherwise they wouldn’t be alive for very long with deadly food proteins hidden so unimaginably. Of COURSE we carry wipes…boxes of them. But I question why parents without food allergy battles wouldn’t think to wipe off a few trays and seats on an enclosed, high-people volume, germy plane? I am practically SURE you have seen people using wipes for Pete’s sake…what a silly comment. Is that all you could come up with to instruct us on how to care for our children? As far as the mask…that’s as much pathetic as it is untrue…and doesn’t deserve a comment. You sound like it’s time you got out of the flight attendant service industry…SERVICE industry. I can see why SouthWest Airlines would never hire someone like you.

June 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm
(33) Kim says:

I couldn’t take Martha Stewardess seriously enough to be offended. What she said was a total joke coming from a medically uninformed, unprofessional person.

But now that I am commenting, its odd, I just returned from attending a food allergy conference with a top allergist and he never once mentioned the role of masks to manage life threatening allergies. Martha? What supporting evidence supports your assertion that we would all be safe wearing masks? Please share your brilliance with us and cite that study.

June 24, 2011 at 7:13 pm
(34) Americans have problems says:

How about planting trees growing grass and flowers in the Garden it is discrimination to people who have pollen allergies (yes they to can get shocks from that and die) they also want to enjoy the sun.

the good thing about having a healthcare system you can see in germany:

http://www.n-tv.de/wissen/Erfolg-bei-Erdnuss-Allergie-article1299491.html

in this article you can read there is a chance of getting better. NOT everyone gets well from it but it also softens the effect and if it is so sever why not try getting better. Also why in Idustrial country s there are so many and ind lesser developed countrys there is also less of those allergies what do we do wrong?

June 24, 2011 at 10:25 pm
(35) JW Anderson says:

Airlines have timeframes when nuts are not served, other carriers do not serve nuts at all. The subject here started because someone wanted an airline to change their entire business model to accommodate an occasional traveler and yes I don’t only transport myself on a plane, I also use it as a workplace and a break from work, as a business tool and I pay premium fares to be transported from Sydney to London to San Francisco. I pay for air carriers to provide these perks and other on-board services that make my life a lot easier while going to work everywhere I have to go. So pardon me if I appreciate that this child travel on that different timeframe to accommodate his needs, the airlines to accommodate my needs as well; because at the end of the day, I bring the revenue that keeps airlines fly over a leisure travelers and I can assure you that even if that allergy to peanuts is considered a valid disability still is not disrupting enough to have the FAA issue a resolution to ban nuts from flying, is still a call the airline can make.

June 25, 2011 at 3:54 am
(36) Missy Ashley says:

JW Anderson so eloquently writes, “The subject here started because someone wanted an airline to change their ENTIRE BUSINESS MODEL to accommodate an occasional traveler.”

Your reality is a little skewed or you are just simply lying.

“I pay for air carriers to provide these perks and other on-board services that make MY LIFE a lot EASIER”

JW, when in self-doubt if this is a narcissistic statement of the highest degree…as well as questioning whether you should have actually admitted and then printed such telling and revolting information about yourself, refer to Kim’s comment as your reality check and frame of reference for what the word decency means:

“It isn’t all about you. I wish you knew how self centered you sound. A grown man clinging to his rights to warm nuts? How about the rights of others to breathe and remain on this planet? The purpose of air travel is to get from point A to point B, not to eat warm nuts.”
(LOVE this, Kim)

Plus, I seriously doubt that you “pay” for many airline tickets. Don’t you get freebies flying on the standby list of the airline you work for?

June 25, 2011 at 11:52 am
(37) Brian Hom says:

It appears many people “still don’t get it”. Having lost a 18 year old son to an anaphylactic shock to peanuts. Many of you who say that it can’t happen from roasted nuts, it can. Food allergies are lethal and it is like having a loaded gun in many situations where it may kill you or may be not. So those who are not sensitive to life for those with food allergies will perhaps someday have a loved one or friend who will have a food allergy. My wife and I have no food allergies but 3 sons all born in the 1990′s have peanut allergies. Something is changing and causing a food allergy epidemic so those who don’t see the problem now will see it one day. I have flown with American Airlines for over 30 years as a business person and vacationer and in First Class. Yes, the roasted nuts are nice but if I know there was a chance that on a certain flight that it could cause death, I can fly without it. Roasted nuts is not that special. And if it is roasting the nuts that is the problem, just give me the nuts unroasted. But if American Airlines as well as other airlines want to stay in business they will need to accomodate this food allergy disability as the number of cases of food allergies doubles again and again pretty soon very few will fly because of roasted nuts. This may sound ridiculous or exaggerated but it can happen. When I was growing up you never heard of food allergies and I was brought up eating peanuts and tree nuts at a young age. I will be flying with American Airlines very soon with my family and I have contacted American airlines about the peanut allergies. They will not be serving peanuts. Yes, you might ask why should I choose to travel by air with my sons. The answer is people with food allergies already live in a bubble and have a restricted life style but with the right accomodations they should be able to fly and travel like other people who do not suffer from food allergies. Read CNN.com Health my interview on food allergies.

June 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm
(38) Keith says:

Gina~please don’t be offended by Derek’s comment, his mind set is like many that we deal with on a daily basis and they won’t get it until it happens to them or someone they love. The awareness fight continues and one day we shall over come.

Keith

June 25, 2011 at 3:15 pm
(39) Susan says:

I am always amazed that people feel their have a desire to a certain food is more important than another persons right to accessible service. I mean, of all the food available to AA, what is the appeal with nuts?
Yes, this has been their busuness plan for some time and change is hard but keep up with the times, guys. Food allergies have been on the rise for over a decade. We may not have all the answers (we are working on them) but this much we know.
Customers in first class demand perks to set them apart from the rest of the world. Apparently arriving first is not enough.
I’m sure AA will think of something else.
I’d liken the whole peanut issue to smoking. It’s an enclosed environment so what you do can impact others. If it puts the lives of some passengers in jeopardy, it’s time to reconsider the practice.
Any company that would choose to give one group of individuals perks while denying access to another group is not a company that I will do business with.
And just for the record, I do preboard and wipe down every possible surface with wipes.

June 25, 2011 at 5:45 pm
(40) Food allergy parent, as well says:

(((()))) for Mr. Brain Hom. I am very sorry for your precious loss. Thank you for your advocacy.

June 25, 2011 at 6:01 pm
(41) No Nuts For Me says:

JW Anderson: You keep saying that nuts aren’t served during breakfast flights, but if you have read all the information that has been posted on this issue, you will see that there wasn’t an AM flight that was available for this family. Also not everyone has a choice in which airline to fly.

June 27, 2011 at 12:22 pm
(42) Lannie Ashley says:

Heya JW Anderson,
Love your written and trackable Comment #18. I wonder if you were quick enough to not use your real name as your login; not that it matters. Your many curious posts seem to be way too personally involved…how else would you be quoting the EXACT words that the hateful supervisor used to daunt Mrs. Gina Clowes with, in regard to her minor accommodation request, out of legitimate concern for the safety of her young son…which her doctor recommended? Your seafood comparison is plainly deserving of ridicule, but I believe Gina met your jeering retort with a calm and perfect response already…remember?

My bet is that I’m outing YOU as THE specific supervisor that Gina sought help from in order to try and protect her child. I wonder if your supervisor knows that you go out of your way to taunt distraught passengers that call in for a little service and maybe even some help? Regardless, you will be outed by your verbatim posts, and your hateful service to American Airline passengers with disabilities will hopefully be dealt with, and swiftly. If not, then my guess is that this must be the norm for the customer service culture at AA…it HAS to come from the TOP-DOWN in order to allow people like you to serve the needs of paying passengers, in need of even minor accommodations, in such a disgusting way…it’s actually unconscionable!

You aren’t the slightest bit worried about losing your job over continuing to hassle a paying customer of AA that has a child with a disability? And one that has quite a large voice in a consumer base that amounts to tens of millions of people?
I have now read countless other stories where American Airline agents were nasty…even telling a parent, in front of their young daughter, that AA would not be responsible if their daughter died on AA from a nut allergy reaction! The child burst into tears from terror.

June 27, 2011 at 12:25 pm
(43) Lannie Ashley says:

My family is one of the millions fighting deadly food allergies every day, not to leave out all the other tens of millions that deal with other disabilities…but I like the view from here. I would hate to wake up and be you. We can search for cures and minor accommodations until then, but sadly, I know your values and ethics will never change. Maybe AA will help find a position that is better suited for you…your customer service position is not working for you or American Airlines.

I’m glad this storyline, that apparently runs deep in the veins of AA, is getting the necessary attention that should bring positive change from your management…and if not…well you said it…this “disability still is not disrupting enough to have the FAA issue a resolution to ban nuts”…hide and watch, Mr. Anderson…it will happen…it will DEFINITELY happen. And all because heartless people like you spew your astonishing and infuriating venom instead of caring enough to meet the needs of even a child that is brave enough to battle his life-threatening disability every day. You couldn’t muster enough courage to face a few 1st class passengers that apparently, according to Martha Stewardess, has uprisings over whether or not their nuts are warmed…over the safety of a child with life-threatening disabilities? “They complain if their nuts aren’t heated! Or they refuse them and pout about it.” Wow, do all American Airline employees hold their paying passengers with so much disdain and ridicule?

June 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm
(44) Lannie Ashley says:

Well until the FAA has to step in because of you and companies like American Airlines, we can certainly show AA what we think of their revolting customer service by flying other airlines. There are millions of us you are directly affecting…I wonder if American Airline CEO, Gerard Arpey, will be as arrogant and cavalier as you are in representing his company. It’s not your money, right? You don’t seem to care about the needs or feelings of passengers with disabilities, nor the company that employs you. We will stand together and create the necessary policy changes that you so callously scoff. I vote that you be the one to let Mr. Arpey know that in addition to the “fuel crisis” he currently speaks about…you have served his company well and created yet another crisis, instead of doing the job you were employed to do…which potentially amounts to dismissing millions of paying consumers…ones with loyalty and heart at that.

June 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm
(45) Christy @morethanmommy says:

I’m used to the ignorant and selfish people who get worked up over their God-given right to eat nuts. Honestly, I feel bad for someone who is that inconsiderate.

It would never in a million years cross my mind that an airline would roast nuts on a plane. I’ve flown first class, but never heard of such a thing. It bothers me that they won’t accommodate this family’s request, but it bothers me even more that they won’t refund the tickets. I will happily cross American Airlines off my list of possibilities when booking flights.

My son has a peanut/tree-nut allergy, but it doesn’t appear to be severe enough that we have to worry about peanut dust in the air. We DO wipe off tray tables and other hard surfaces and often cover seats, just in case.

June 28, 2011 at 1:06 am
(46) momofthree says:

@Lannie Ashley… WOW good call! i just looked up his name on facebook and wouldn’t you guess it…all of his likes are American Airlines…and occupation “world travelor” sounds like we have our nasty customer service rep right here!

June 28, 2011 at 11:16 pm
(47) JW ANDERSON says:

@Lannie,

I am sorry to disappoint you, I am not at American Airlines employee, however my line of work has to do with consumer protection, I will leave it to you as homework to find out what it is.

If “momofthree” would have done better research, and read my previous posts on other travel pages of Facebook, she would have noticed my Executive Platinum status with this carrier and Premier Executive status with United Airlines. At some point I wanted to work for them, because I enjoy traveling, that’s why I do so for work as well.

If you would have carefully read my previous post, I am still concern about this kid, but you have to give a business and chance to be and understand the difference between reasonable accommodation and complete change of rules from a hardly profitable business model due to the high fuel prices; all this taking place, after exercising a choice of travel carrier.

Every time I post something, I get another piece of a puzzle that was never given up front. First was just the lack of accommodation, also considered discrimination, as posted in Facebook. The unavailability of alternate flight options. The available early connecting morning flight, were nuts are not serve (still wouldn’t guarantee nut dust in the air), helpful for the child but not for the ill grandmother added to the traveling party (I hope she gets better too).

I understand, the child and the family needs to be somewhere and safely; but, why it has to be that only flight? Without nuts or cold nuts for First Class passengers? Make sure that every other passenger do not bring or consume nuts on board? Because it will cause the same damage that warming up nuts on board would do, there are not enough resources to deliver such accommodation on a global airline struggling to make some revenue.

June 28, 2011 at 11:17 pm
(48) JW Anderson says:

Yes, the FAA has not issued a directive for airlines to become nut free, because they are aware there are alternate forms of transportation; and you are right it would probably or definitely happen, but later down the road; once that happens, the systemwide accommodation could be made, a different business model may be introduced and I will deal with the lack of perks, at that time.

As Gina mentioned above, when she checked online, she couldn’t find anything clearly stating that an accommodation she would consider acceptable for the child; would be delivered. Wouldn’t a parent that, under regular circumstances, has to be extra careful with an allergic child, confirm the availability of such services? The needs of the ill grandmother needed to be accommodated as well; wouldn’t it be another key factor to be confirmed prior to the, non-refundable, ticket purchase? Why it had to be assumed? If this would have happen wit United or any major global carrier, the story would have been likely the same. Other U.S. carriers are capable of these accommodations.

I am going to throw something here, why doesn’t Gina travel with the kid on the early connecting flight and the grandmother with another person on the non-stop later flight?I believe there were four tickets, so someone else is going, I wonder whom that person is. Yes, 2 trips to the airport but everyone arrives safely with only some inconvenience; let’s see Gina thinks of it. Hope something works for her, the kid and the grandmother.

July 5, 2011 at 4:33 pm
(49) Shocked Mom says:

The phrase “Ignorance is bliss” is all I could think as I read through these comments. I have a 3 year old allergic to milk, eggs, and peanuts. When I read things like, “the parents aren’t doing anything to prevent their child from reacting” I am beyond shocked. First of all…has anyone ever tried to keep a face mask on a 2 or 3 year old child…especially when the risk is their life???!!!! When we go places we bring food, we get lists of allergens (which are rarely available) and we tell people of a milk allergy. People smile and nod and then ask if we want cheese on his food. Again, ignorance is bliss. We more than try to prevent reactions as parents…there are times that people need a little help to protect their children. My guess is that the second a child is gasping for air…first
class isn’t going to be munching their roasted nuts while watching. Ignorance is bliss. Until you have had to avoid food…which is everywhere…you will never understand. I heard something recently about an airline banning children from first class. There is a consistent comment made about paying for first class and the luxuries that come with it. Those parents pay for that luxury for their family and the children up there are certainly not a life threatening problem for any other passenger…yet banning children from first class is an option, but asking that the nuts be served cold due to life threatening allergies is a problem? Ignorance is bliss. I wish people would have a little compassion. Putting these kids in a bubble is the most rediculous and heartless thing I have heard an adult say about a child in a long time. Ignorance is bliss.

July 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm
(50) Tom says:

“Why do American Airlines passengers have to adjust the way they do business?”

Because it is the law. Is that too complicated for you to understand? If you don’t like the law then get it changed. The American with Disabilities Act requires airlines to make reasonable accommodations for the disabled. Not heating nuts is not an unreasonable request. If AA felt it was then they should give back the money for the tickets.

Personally I think AA is the worst airline. I wouldn’t fly them for free.

March 5, 2012 at 9:28 am
(51) NotJustForKids says:

I can see that I’m a little late to the party on this, but people should be aware that it’s not just kids that suffer from this kind of life threatening allergy. Just last night I had the worst flight of my life on American Airlines; I made the mistake of paying to upgrade to first class, where I had a horrible reaction. I’m almost 40.

I have a severe allergy to tree nuts – much like everyone has described above. I can’t breathe in a confined area with nuts. I can’t touch them. I go into anaphylactic shock if I eat them. My husband and I fly VERY regularly on several airlines, both in coach and business class, and I haven’t seen an airline serve tree nuts in YEARS. Unfortunately I didn’t realize it would be an issue on AA.

I don’t have the energy to go into details, but I made it home safe. I’m going to have to go get treated today, as I’m still sick. The American Airlines employees must be completely soulless; not one, but something like 6 of them, including a “customer service rep” looked at my husband and said they didn’t care if I went into shock, had to be hospitalized, or even died. I don’t get how people like that sleep at night. No job is with potentially killing someone.

March 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm
(52) foodallergies says:

NotJustForKids: Thank you for sharing your story, which sounds really terrible. I hope that now that you are on the ground and hopefully well again, that you contact AA again. The only way they will every change this policy is if enough people complain that it begins to hurt their business.

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