Trying to maintain a nut-free environment on airplanes is virtually impossible, but a number of carriers are taking steps to offer solutions to the problem.
Following is a roundup of the allergy policies of U.S. major carriers and whether or not they serve nuts on their flights. All of the carriers encourage passengers to take necessary medical precautions prior to flying. It should be noted that EpiPens are exempt from the TSA 3-ounce limit on liquids.
Though the carrier does not serve peanuts on its flights, it does offer mixed nuts to its first-class and business-class passengers, making it difficult to guarantee that passengers won’t be exposed to nuts during their trip. Effective Dec. 12, the carrier will allow passengers with nut allergies to board early to wipe down their seats.
“Some have asked us if we expect to see people faking a nut allergy in order to board the flight earlier,” said American spokesperson Michelle Mohr. “We do not expect rampant abuse of this policy. We do not think that our customers will fake having a potentially life-threatening allergy in order to simply board the plane a little bit faster.”
Delta Air Lines
If a passenger notifies Delta of a peanut or nut allergy at least 48 hours prior to the flight, the carrier will refrain from serving any kind of peanut products onboard, instead offering non-peanut snacks to everyone onboard.
Additionally, passengers can alert gate agents if they would like to pre-board to decontaminate their seats, but the airline advises that they must bring their own cleaning materials.
The carrier’s website policy reads: “Though we always aim to work with you to make your flight safe and comfortable, we cannot guarantee a peanut- or nut-free flight or prohibit other customers from carrying nut products aboard. If you need to make us aware of a nut allergy for an upcoming flight, please visit My Trips to fill out the Accessibility Service Request form or call Delta reservations at 404-209-3434.”
United does not serve pre-packaged peanuts on its flights, but notes on its website that it does “prepare and serve meals and snacks utilizing a variety of other ingredients, including major food allergens.”
Due to this, the carrier says it cannot guarantee an allergen-free meal or environment on its flights or prevent customers from bringing food items onboard that contain major food allergens, including peanuts.
United’s website policy reads: “If you have concerns about a severe food allergy, please notify a flight attendant onboard the aircraft. In some cases, we may be able to pass along your request to other customers seated nearby to refrain from opening and eating any allergen-containing products they may have brought onboard.
For operational reasons, we cannot remove any onboard products based on individual customer requests, and we do not offer allergen-free buffer zones on our aircraft. Since we cannot guarantee allergen-free flights, we encourage customers to review any health concerns with their physicians prior to flying.”
The carrier stopped serving peanuts on its flights on Aug. 1, however their website policy states that many of the snacks they serve “may be packaged in the same facility as peanuts. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that they don’t contain peanut particles or oil.” Southwest also stated it cannot prevent passengers from bringing peanuts onboard its flights.
JetBlue does not serve peanuts onboard but does serve other nuts and food items that may be cross-contaminated with peanuts. On request, the carrier will create a three-row buffer zone around a passenger with a nut allergy and ask those passengers in that zone to refrain from eating any nuts. JetBlue will also offer a full refund to passengers whose allergies make it impossible for them to travel.