• Thu, May 12 2011

Airline Refuses To Seat Peanut Allergic Kid

I have a kid with a severe nut allergy. We carry EpiPens with us wherever we go. It’s a pain but much better now that she can help us help her avoid nuts. We take major precautions in our home to keep nuts out of reach of the kids, but we view it as our issue to deal with.

Thank God I’m not flying Air Canada, then. The airline just refused to seat a passenger because he has a peanut allergy.

That’s right, they refused to let a kid on the plane because he has a peanut allergy. And his mom, Nova Scotian April Burns, is not pleased.

She purchased the tickets weeks ago through a rewards program and mentioned the allergy. Apparently the airline likes to create a massive allergen-free buffer zone for their passengers with allergies. Or has been forced to through the Canadian Transportation Agency — I’m not quite sure. Well, the family arrived at the airport and were told that the airline hadn’t made the arrangements and would not be seating Matthew, the son.

So he took his five EpiPens and bought a ticket on American Airlines to Fiji, where he’s volunteering for a couple weeks. On that note, we should all volunteer in Fiji.

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  • Meghan Keane

    Aw. That’s nice that he’s volunteering. But I’m still unclear how airlines should deal with things like this. I flew to Mexico on JetBlue last year and after they closed the doors they informed everyone we couldn’t open any food that may have nuts because a child had an allergy.So we’d bought dinner for no reason. JetBlue doesn’t really serve food and we had to wait til we landed to eat. There’s got to be a better way to deal with these allergies than forcing everyone to starve for however long a flight is at the last minute.

    • Holly Nightingale

      I totally agree with you, I would hope the airline could announce (in several languages) that there is a person on board with allergies, so others can select other snacks, or food! Perhaps they can post an electronic message beneath their flight/boarding time! People are always looking there!

    • cc

      Dont know if you will read this Meagan, but thank you!!!! Even though you bought the food you didnt eat it. You had a choice and waited. I am sorry you were hungry on the flight, and as a mom of a child with a nut allergy people like YOU make life a bit easier. Your accommodation will be paid back. I know it. Thank you!!

      Great idea to post no nuts during the flight on the board by the gate. I would say most parents book with this flag. The airlines know well in advance. Southwest has a great protocal and swaps out nuts for other snacks.

    • holly

      How is someone else eating peanuts going to make ur child have a reaction. Seriously, if they are nowhere around your child how the hell will it affect your kid. Maybe you should take your child to the doctor and have them do that allergic scratch thing on his back to where they aren’t allergic or are less allergic because if I have to pay 500 dollars for a ticket on a plane, and I’m hungry and paid for a meal, I’m going to eat. Everyone that’s not allergic to peanuts should not have to change their lives for the one person that is. Maybe not take your young child on a plane anyway.

    • jb

      Just breathing the proteins can trigger an allegic reaction for some people. Also, if you eat something with peanuts in it the proteins can be transferred unintentionally. You touch the peanuts and the bag while eating your snack. You give the flight attendent your trash. She now has the proteins on her hands. She then transfers the proteins on something else and the vicious cycle continues until it reaches the peanut allergy person and boom there is a reaction. One of my children has a peanut allergy along with allergies to other foods. He even had a reaction after a family member had peanuts before coming over to our house and desp ite her washing her face and hands really good he still had a reaction. I knew a girl in college that it was the same way with peas. People in her major could not bring anything with peas in it because she would react even if she wasn’t in the room at the time it was consumed. Now having a child with allergies I see things from a whole new perspec tive. The airlines should have a better way of communicating allergies though. A.bout the money you are paying for your flight…they are paying good money for theirs too. You never know their circumstances why they are flying. What happens if flying to their destination was the quickest way to get them there (ie family emergency)?

  • Lindsay Cross

    Yea, you would think that there could be a balance between over-reaction and straight out denial. I think that someone with a severe allergy needs to report it when they order their tickets, which it seems that this family did. Then, the airline can make special arrangements to provide nut-free foods during the flight.

    That way the person with the allergy can fly and the rest of the passengers don’t have to suffer. It just sucks that the family tried to be responsible and the airline just did nothing.

  • Mollie Hemingway

    At first I thought the family was overreacting but then I realized that THEY weren’t asking for the allergen-free zone but that the airline was requiring it and therefore not seating the kid. Exactly right that balance and working together is needed.

    And I fly Southwest all the time — and their inflight snack is always nuts — and have to think about these things with my oldest.

    • Lindsay Cross

      Gotcha! That’s so weird that the airplane required an allergy-free zone if the family wasn’t insistent. I can’t believe that there isn’t a waiver the family could sign saying, ‘We won’t sue if…..’ so that the kid could just take his flight.

      I can’t imagine having to constantly think about an allergy. It’s just never been an issue for me, but how stressful! My mother is an early childhood teacher though, and I know their school has had a really difficult time with nut and egg allergies.

  • Linda

    Just flew Westjet a few days ago. They made an announcement as soon as the doors closed that a child on board had a severe peanut allergy and asked everyone to refrain from exposing the child to any potentially harmful exposure. As the mother of a child with idiopathic anaphylaxis, I really appreciated this!! Good luck!

  • Holly Nightingale

    I was REFUSED by an Air Canada MANAGER, who didn’t know the policy but would have had to read the PDF. She said I was supposed to wait (all night long- over night) for a medical doctor to clear me! She would have been off duty, and how was I supposed to be cleared? I carry epi pens (4), gloves, and mask – and have been flying with Air Canada for 4 decades! I had to buy on the spot, a WESTJET ticket – and they accommodated me withouth any problem! Though it cost me $580. one way – but I couldn’t phone in sick, or tell my employer at the last minute that Air Canada was doing this to me! I wondered what would have happened if I was a CEO instead of a teacher, and needed to make my client’s appointment on TIME!
    So much for our countries airline accommodating everyone! I WAS so SAD…I had just completed the RUN 4 THE CURE that morning! and this is how I was treated….like an outcast due to allergies!

  • Victoria Gaunt

    I think that if there’s someone on board a plane with a deadly nut allergy, then I can go without peanuts or peanut products for a few hours. Do I like that? No, of course not. But I am not going to put the life of someone else at risk. For all I know, it could be a little kid that has a deadly allergy. Being without peanuts or peanut products for a few hours won’t kill you. If you MUST bring something to eat on board, how about something peanut free? Sure, peanut free products are more expensive, but if someone’s life is at risk, then buck up and have some compassion.