American Airlines Now Allows People with Nut Allergies to Pre-Board


While emotional support squirrels are still on the no-fly list, American Airlines has taken an important step in accommodating passengers with a life-threatening condition in another way. Now, anyone with a nut allergy can board an American flight early to wipe down their seat and the surrounding area.

The announcement comes on the heels of recent stories of passengers suffering from allergic reactions on flights and not receiving the accommodations or response they expected from the airline. A nut allergy is can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and these passengers believe they should have the right to fly safely just like every other passenger on board.

While the news is a welcome change of policy for customers of American Airlines, passengers with nut allergies should still be aware that the airline serves tree nuts in first class and will not suspend service if a passenger has a nut allergy. They also will not make an announcement that someone on board has a nut allergy nor will they create a nut-free “buffer zone” around the allergy sufferer.

How to Fly Safely with Nut Allergies

 Flying safely with a nut allergy requires research. The first step is to consider the potential airline carefully and examine their policies about food and nut allergies.

JetBlue has long been the preferred airline for people with nut allergies because of their comprehensive nut allergy policy. The airline also allows people with nut allergies to pre-board to wipe down their area. Additionally, they will make an announcement about the allergy (if the passenger agrees), create a nut-free buffer zone and ask other passengers to refrain from eating nuts they have brought with them.

Many other airlines have varying policies in place to protect people with nut allergies. It’s a good idea to call airlines you’re considering before booking your flight. Ask about their policies and potential accommodations they are willing to make for you. However, always have a backup plan for your trip, since there are no guarantees that these accommodations will be honored.

Your backup plan and preparations should include:

  • Sanitizing wipes: Experts agree that the most likely way nut-allergy sufferers experience a bad reaction on a plane is from the seat arms and tray. There may be peanut residue present from previous flights.
  • Carry your medication in your carry-on: If a peanut allergy is severe enough to require an EpiPen, make sure it’s with you at all times.
  • Talk to the flight attendant: Although the airline may not have a policy about nuts, they do have flight attendants who are empowered to make decisions about your safety on the flight. Tell your flight attendant about any allergies you suffer.
  • Bring your own food: No airline will guarantee a completely nut-free flight. This includes the food they serve, which may have been exposed to peanuts or tree nuts during preparation or serving.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to be vigilant without becoming overly anxious. Experts say that peanut dust will not aerosolize, or travel through the air, and affect you. Merely smelling peanuts will not cause an allergic reaction, so don’t worry about the passenger across the aisle eating peanuts.


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