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6/2/2010 15:11

While it is hard to know where to draw the line on this issue, without further knowledge, I would support banning peanuts and certain obvious peanut products, like peanut butter crackers, from flights. I think pretzels are a fine alternative, and it seems to be a lesser burden for people who don’t have peanut allergies to be required to refrain from consuming peanut products for the duration of a flight than for a peanut allergy sufferer to have to risk the potential serious allergy attack during a flight. But I am interested in hearing from peanut allergy suffers out there– where should the peanut banning line be drawn? Would it need to include Snickers bars? Any product with peanut oil? What might such a ban look like?

    6/4/2010 02:28

    Peanuts are banned in Schools and Daycares. Coming from a person that has a SEVERE peanut allergy for 37years, I say “draw the line” at products that actually contain the ingredient. Snickers? Yes.. chips that “may contain peanut oil?” No. I am so severe that if someone eats a peanut cookie and without washing their hands, touches mine… I can litterally turn blue and have a severe asthma attack and be hospitalized. Can you imagine being in a plane thousand of miles up and having that happen? I’ll pass.

    6/23/2010 04:36

    I think this issue should only be touched if a clear adverse effect can be demonstrated, either in health impacts or in those avoiding flight for fear of peanuts.

    As for the epinephrine auto-injector, the planes should probably have one available, just as they should have a defibrillator available because they are so far from medical care. Anyone with a peanut allergy who is not a fool will have one on them whether required to or not.

    The plane does not use recycled air, so perhaps requesting people in a certain area of a plane, or on a certain flight not have peanuts if someone can submit documentation of a severe peanut allergy that would be reasonable. This may be a small inconvenience, but so is forcing everyone else not to have peanuts, and since this is for the passenger with the allergy, its nothing to ask of them. A blanket ban is simply overkill without a specific need, and any products with ingredients, like snickers, need to be demonstrated to be dangerous. You cannot just ban products because someone fears they might be dangerous, without proof it is an unnecessary invasion of the privacy and choice of other passengers.

    SJM
    7/5/2010 16:47

    Just to clarify – peanuts are absolutely NOT banned in schools. My children eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches twice a week and they are served in the cafeteria daily. This is a public school in the Chicago suburbs – K through 8.

    6/4/2010 17:02

    As a frequent traveler and the mom of a 23 year old with multiple food allergies, I understand how complicated this type of rule making can be. The “rights” of the peanut allergy sufferer are in direct conflict with the “rights” of the passengers that want to eat peanuts. For many years we avoided the conflict by traveling throughout the U.S. via motorhome. This is not a reasonalbe option for everyone since it can be very time consuming vs. flying.
    Now that my son is older and interested in traveling to Europe, we can’t reasonably get there via motorhome. We choose our airlines carefully, carry multiple Epi-pens, pack his food from home, and I pray.
    It’s a very scary propostion being 35,000 feet in the air over the open ocean, knowing that each Epi-pen is effective for approximately 10-15 minutes. My son tries to sleep most of the flight and fortunately has a much larger bladder than I do. He gets a window seat and one of us acts as his buffer to the food cart.
    This is a scary and risky proposition with a 23 year old who can quickly determine his own symptoms. It would be even scarier with a young child.
    The problem with peanuts and tree nuts is that they are dry and flaky so can readily become airborne. Their oils are sticky and stubborn so can endure through a vigorous scrub with soap and water.
    My son is also allergic to milk and eggs. Nobody talks about banning them because they don’t have the above mentioned properties of peanuts and tree nuts.
    Traveling the world is an envigorating and enlightening experience that many would argue is as important as the structured education that we experience from 12-16+ years. Many people have to travel for work and others are required to relocate to keep their employment.
    Back to the question of your rights or mine. I prefer to live in an educated, enlightened, fulfilled, and respectful society.
    If my donut is going to set off your diabetes, I will gladly forgo the donut for six to twelve to twenty four hours. I can live without it.
    Everyone can live without peanuts and tree nuts. So let’s be reasonable and let all safely travel. Ban the nuts and see how many more families get onboard. Airline revenues will probably go up and that’s a good thing.
    BTW, I’ve been in 6 countries in the last 6 months, so I consider myself a frequent flyer.
    Check http://www.FoodAllergiesToGo.com for my more airline specific opinions regarding food allergies and food allergy friendly restaurants in many corners of the world. You have to eat once you get there!
    Ann@FoodAllergiesToGo.com

    6/4/2010 21:30

    Thanks for your comment. The rights debate is a great perspective. Do you think it has any bearing on other issues in the proposed rule?

    6/18/2010 05:28

    I disagree. The “rights” debate is not a good perspective in this context. As used by opponents of accommodations, it is an inflammatory bandwagon fallacy that simply appeals to an ideologically-motivated distrust of government and regulation in any case whatsoever. Even if “rights” was a good perspective, still, there are always competing rights to resolve. In this case, the equal right to travel safely trumps the right to eat a bag of peanuts.

    The simple reality is that peanuts have become – for reasons not thoroughly understood – a potentially fatal allergen for a growing number of Americans. There problem will get worse before it gets better, as studies indicate that prevalence has tripled among children in recent years. Unless accommodations are made, this will represent lost income for airlines.

    There does not need to be a death record to make this decision. What sort of standard is that? Put the onus on the peanut industry to finalize the non-allergenic peanut, not on those suffering life-threatening peanut allergies to ante up a few more deaths.

    This executive/administrative decision is so simple, it’s absurd. Discontinue service of peanuts on airlines.

    6/18/2010 13:16

    Thank you for your comments Antanagoge. The rights discussion is an important one when trying to evaluate public policy. If there are any other areas of the DOT proposal you think would benefit from a clarification of the rights issue, or the lack thereof, please comment on those issues as well.

    Gym
    7/6/2010 12:12

    Thank you for your common sense, reason and logic. I certainly won’t ante up my peanut allergic child as sacrificial proof that banning peanuts on flights is a simpler solution than emergency landings and potential funerals.

    Occam’s razor – the simplest solution is usually the correct or most effective one.

    Again, my sincerest thanks for your well made comments.

    6/17/2010 17:31

    I just have to say, Yeah right. Did your son actually get diagnosed by a doctor? Foolish paranoia is the real illness in most supposed food allergy cases.

    6/23/2010 01:13

    I have the same kind of allergy trouble, but with chewing gum, new latex rubber products, new tires, pencil erasers, and burning rubber. I am not allergic to peanuts.

    6/6/2010 02:00

    Our daughter is even allergic to airborne peanut dust in a plane when other people open their bag of complementary peanuts in the opposite end of the plane… gasping for air and almost choking.

    Once she told the cabin crew about her allergy at the gate AND again when she got on the plane. The result… they gave her a handi-towel and told her to wipe the armrests of her seat off. Then, then served peanuts to everyone on the plane… even the people sitting next to her. Should she have gotten any worse, they might have had to make an emergency landing… at whose expense???

    6/12/2010 02:58

    This discussion is not the DOT or governments responsibility!

    The idea of banning things like peanuts on airplanes is ridiculous. It is not the job of DOT to police what is served on airlines. I get itchy & runny eyes when I sit next to people who wear too much perfume or are wearing moldy clothes or have not bathed and have body odors. Should we run people through examinations before boarding the plane to see if they are emitting any smell that could cause allergy? And make them clean up or change clothes? I sneeze sometimes when near dogs and cats that give me allergic reaction. Should we ban all animals from any more flights?

    I have a problem when fat persons allow their body parts to hang over and under the arm rest next to me. It causes me to be nervous and can cause serious medical problems.

    Do you see how far reaching this can go? This must be stopped now.

    If people get sick in public it is their responsibility to stay out of public places.
    It is not the rest of us that must be subject to their health problems.

    I vote for peanuts to never be outlawed on any public transportation.
    If they are banned this means I could not bring my own either? Or I may be subject to being thrown off the plane because I have caused panic.

    I also do not like the smell of some food. It causes me to feel nauseous.
    On my last flight from China it smelled like someone was eating rotten dog meat. Should I have told the pilot to stop the plane, eject the person and then demand the plane be fumigated?

    Lets stop this issue now before it gets any more press and never bring it up again.

    6/22/2010 17:05

    Amish: After typing my comments I read yours and it was refreshing to see another world traveler with the same thoughts. I suspect the people who are behind this rule change fly once a year to Disneyland and they want to change the rules for those of us who actually fly regularly.

    6/27/2010 11:25

    Your suspicions about who is behind this are just your clouded musings. There is real data showing allergic reactions to peanut dust in the aircraft. The fact that you are uninformed does not mean the evidence does not exist. A willingness to go without peanuts for the duration of a flight is a small show of civility and empathy. Our family flies regularly and internationally. We are very careful and inform the airlines of our child’s allergy. It would be a life-saving and life-changing regulation if peanuts were banned on all flights. People who like peanuts can simply eat a giant bag after the plane lands. It is good for your personal growth to be able to think of other people’s needs.

    6/23/2010 01:29

    This is not a matter of itchy eyes or a runny nose. This is a matter of the airway closing down (preventing breathing), or the entire body going into anaphylactic shock. It causes death.

    I have such an allergy, but to chewing gum and rubber. I almost died twice. For this reason, I can never use any form of public transportation.

    The proper way to do this is to ban a substance from the conveyance only if a passenger on that conveyance has a life-threatening allergy to it.

    6/17/2010 17:32

    Absolutely! I think the fact that she survived the people next to her having peanuts indicates that the fear is baseless.

    6/22/2010 17:17

    Gene: I hope that the airline would charge you! There are millions of Americans who are afflicted by medical conditions; Asthma, Hemophilia, High Blood Pressure, Risk of Strokes, and the list goes on and on. Each of these people take responsibility for their own health. When they leave home they prepare for the dangerous they will face even those which are not dangerous to others.
    When you ask us, the general public to take responsibility for the safety of your daughter you are ignoring your own responsibilities and setting a bad example for your child.

    6/23/2010 01:22

    An Epi-Pen will not stop the reaction, unless the allergen is removed, or the patient is removed from the air containing the allergen. This is impossible in the confined space of an airplane.

    There is no alternate transportation for international flights. And some people may have to fly because governments require them to be certain places at certain times (e.g courts).

    There are no masks that stop proteins.

    6/23/2010 04:55

    My child has a fairly severe peanut allergy. Although she has never had a reaction on an airplane, she did have a reaction to the dust/smell of peanut products we disposed of when we first found out she had this allergy (after a serious reaction to a peanut butter snack). Because of that, I know that reactions to airborne peanut particles are real and it raises concerns for me about what happens in the small, enclosed environment of an airplane.

    Reading the comments posted, I am surprised at the cavalier attitude of many. The idea that those with peanut allergies should take personal responsibility for themselves is of course reasonable. However, just saying that they should carry their epi-pens and other medications with them and deal with whatever reaction may arise misses the point. First, Epi-pens do not always reverse a serious reaction, and so even with the proper medication available death is still a possible outcome. Second, even if the epi-pen reverses the reaction, having the reaction and having to use the epi-pen both are serious health matters not to be taken lightly and may have consequences in their own right, especially if multiple doses of epinephrine are required.

    Also, while this is a disability of sorts, the comparison to a person in a wheelchair is not apt. If a person needs a wheelchair to get around, he/she can live without that wheelchair. There is no question whether the absence of the wheelchair by itself may result in that person’s death. In contrast, in the case of peanut allergies the presence of peanuts in the environment can be life threatening.

    The slippery slope argument used by others would make sense if there weren’t clear ways to draw the line in this case. There are. Peanuts are the number one anaphylaxis inducing food substance in the world. There are others, but none come close to peanuts. The suggestion that other bans on other things that are not life threatening would follow is slope that don’t find the least bit slippery!

    Finally, if we consider this as a question of rights, then we have to consider that one person’s rights will often be in competition or conflict with another’s. This is such a case. Your right to eat what you like versus the allergic person’s right to an environment that is not life-threatening. So, how do we solve this? I suggest that more “essential” right should trump the lesser. If cannot eat what you want, you can still live. If I can’t breath, well that’s another matter, isn’t it?! The other side of any right is the obligations it imposes on others. In this case, the allergic person still has the obligation to take reasonable precautions, but others have an obligation not to create a hazardous environment for that person just so they can enjoy their peanut butter sandwiches.

    6/23/2010 13:47

    Will you also ban latex from all flights? What about ANY substance which someone has a potentially fatal allergic reaction to? There are a LOT of those out there. Where do you draw the line? Or do you draw a line at all?

    6/23/2010 21:28

    Actually, JJMurray, I would support banning such items from being used/taken out during flights, given that they are capable of doing so simply being circulated in the air. You’re right that peanuts are not the only items that can do this, but the list of items that are well known to cause such reactions in this way is not that long. And I would challenge you to find any reason why a person couldn’t go without them for the duration of any flight.

    6/23/2010 14:07

    thebob, Thank you for your comment. Do you believe that a peanut free zone would be sufficient to alleviate the problem? or requiring those with allergies to disclose them prior to flight and then ban peanuts only on that flight?

    6/23/2010 21:19

    Hello Moderator. I don’t believe that a peanut free zone would suffice, but it is better than nothing. However, I prefer having those with allergies disclose them prior to flight and then ban them on that flight. Southwest Airlines has done this for us in the past and it worked out quite well. Of course, as I said before, I think banning them outright makes more sense.

    6/24/2010 17:04

    I have been diagnosed – I say that part for the naysayers – by one of the best Allergists in the country. I want to say that I am allergic to peanuts and latex as well as a number of other items. But with the two above items it’s the particles in the air on board that worry me the most when flying. Until the laws change I just do not fly any longer at all. I’d rather drive for days then risk dying in flight. I do not want to miss out on seeing my daughter grow up. I think that anyone with a loved one with a severe allergy would agree with banning any item from a flight that has reactive proteins that could be recycled through the cabin. And if you are so selfish that you cannot live without a peanut or a balloon for a few hours – I hope one day you have an experience that teaches you how it feels to have a serious allergic reaction. If the Center for Disease Control has a warning about the overexposure to natural Latex then don’t you think the airlines should think about the seriousness of allergies, and airborne proteins?

    6/24/2010 23:54

    Amen. Well said.

    6/6/2010 20:41

    First, I have my fair share of allergies and have spent a fair share of time in the ER, with allergic reactions. As a parent, I understand the pain that some of the parents have related in their stories.

    We, the ones with allergies are very few and far between, when we consider the flying public. I have my share of epi-pens, in the event one is needed or prednisone, should I have a case of anaphylaxis. As they say in the BSA, “Be Prepared.”

    I guess I am fortunate since my symptomology is always similar in nature and covers a four to 12 hour period: Itchy skin, itchy scalp, swelling of joints, poor demeanor, then hives and off to the ER if an anti-anaphylaxis drug isn’t in use by the time hives break out, which is usually 4 hours after the first symptoms start to manifest themselves or the scalp becomes itchy.

    If this is a case where people, with these allergies are deemed “handicapped,” these people should have their medication on their person, to mitigate anaphylaxis.

    I do. After the medication is ingested or injected, relief comes in less than five minutes and the only discomfort I have had is a case of the sweats and / or a minor headache.

    When peanuts are served, they come individually wrapped and it is the responsibility of the passenger to dispose of the wrapper, accordingly.

    Is DOT going down a slippery slope? What if the Americans of Moslem and Orthodox Jewish Faiths demand that pork products be banned from all air flight? What if the Americans of the Hindustani or vegeterian beliefs, start demanding no more beef? How about those “dairy folks?” No more cheese or milk?

    I regret to say that although pretzels have been offered as an alternative, they aren’t a substitute for peanuts. Also, I have been advised that cashews are edible by people with peanut allergies and could be used as a substitute.

    Since medication is portable (Injectibles and oral), I believe that a warning that peanuts are being used is sufficent and that flight attendents be trained in the usage of epi-pens for this purpose.

    When airlines are forced to limit the types of food it can serve, esecially when less than 1% of the flying public it serves, it impacts price, quality of service and capitulates to the will of the very small minority, in which there is a ready solution that is present.

    Maybe we should have “plastic bubbles” for each individual passenger?

    I say “no” to such a food rule and would encourage all passengers and parents to execise a little responsibility and be pro-active in the introduction of the appropriate medication, when necessary.

    Note: A long time ago, to be a flight attendent, one also had to be a Registered Nurse.

    6/10/2010 16:57

    “I guess I am fortunate since my symptomology is always similar in nature and covers a four to 12 hour period”
    Yes, you are fortunate. For some people (my son) the life-threatening reaction of airway constriction is immediate. I couldn’t carry enough Epi-pens to allow the plane time enough to land so that we could get to an ER where a doctor–not a nurse–could save his life. I’m not an expert like you, but last I heard death by suffocation takes a mere 9 minutes. It would be good business for the airlines to voluntarily do everything they can to avoid re-directing aircraft due to an emergency and ruining everyone’s very important trip to Cancun. Perhaps they have contracts with Planter’s?

    Your concern about religious people requesting further bans on food reveals a lot about you. I’ll quell your fears with this: My son is not offended by peanuts nor do I have a book that says he shouldn’t eat them; peanuts could kill him. It is a scientifically proven fact that anaphylaxis exists and can kill after peanut exposure. Someone above likened this to the Boogey Man, but if I give my son a peanut, he could die (and almost has); everytime I look under his bed for the Boogey Man, there’s nothing. It’s pretty reliable data.

    Let life and death be the standard for what foods to ban, and no one should have a problem with this issue. I didn’t know that there was a sizable peanut lobby, nor that so many Americans tie their rights, freedom, and understanding of Capitalism to their ability to eat peanuts. But I’ve always known that they love to tie their prejudices to matters they don’t understand, and this board is proof of the reason WHY the government resorts to making laws that should be common sense and decency.

    6/10/2010 17:21

    Computer_Forensics_Expert and Immunoglobulin, thank you for your comments. You both seem to have good perspectives, based on personal experiences. Do you have personal experiences with other topics discussed in this rule? The DOT really wants to hear comments from a variety of people on issues such as baggage fees, tarmac delays, and bumping compensation. Use the rule dashboard at the left to navigate to this different areas to have your voice heard there as well!

    6/23/2010 01:34

    Who’s talking hives? They itch. Try having your airway swell shut and fill with mucus. You are dead in 3 minutes.

    6/11/2010 15:53

    If you take your daughter on a flight knowing that they serve peanuts, and knowing that her reactions are so severe, then you have created the problem, and that emergency landing should come out of your pocketbook. Consider that before you infringe upon the rights of hundreds of others to cater to your needs. Carry an epi pen or use alternate transportation rather than expecting the world to bow to your needs. It’s simply not realistic.

    6/12/2010 03:28

    Tiffany, the DOT is just recognizing a product that is being provided by companies that pose a serious threat to a fairly large number of people. Most other products aboard flights are considered non-allergenic or do not have particulates that become airborne which is the case with the bagged peanuts. Also, finding another mode of transportation is not an option for me as I might be the Captain on your flight one day. Your suggestions are that discard 26,000 hours of flight experience and not fly or use my epipen because airlines wish to serve peanuts? I would think that suggestion is not realistic. I understand that for those who do not have that/an allergy it might seem “overblown” but I can assure you that overall, it is not. It is simply a desire to eliminate a #1 food allergy product that can become airborne in a small, pressurized aluminum (soon to be carbon fiber with the 787!) tube.

    6/11/2010 15:57

    How about people with gluten allergies… we better ban pretzels too… See how ridiculous and out of control this can get if we let it? This isn’t a DOT issue, it’s not a disability issue like a person that needs a ramp for a wheelchair, it’s a common sense issue that requires the person with the disability to prepare for the isolated emergency by taking proper steps like an epi pen, or an allergy tablet, the same as they would anywhere else, rather than expecting a controlling governmental agency to impose more bans that in effect infringe upon the rights of far more people… things have gotten far out of control. How many times have you seen a completely healthy person with no obvious disability get out of a vehicle in a parking lot with a wheel chair placard on their mirror? I know two people exactly like this that have been able to work the system well enough to get such placards when they don’t deserve or require them, they’re in fact lazy. At some point, this nonsense has to stop.

    6/11/2010 16:07

    Thank you for your comment. What do you think about the other regulations the DOT is proposing in this rule? Do you have similar objections to any of them? Use the Rule Dashboard on the left to see what other issues you might have something to say about.

    6/23/2010 01:47

    Tiffany462, gluten allergies are not normally spread through the air. The limiting factors on such a rule should be:

    - Such a passenger is actually on the flight.
    - The passenger is affected in such a way that can cause permanent damage or death.
    - The allergen is spread by airborne or contact means, not through consumption of the food.

    Examples of such substances are peanuts, chewing gum, new rubber products, perfumes, and some skin softening products.

    What should be done:
    - The allergic person should declare the allergy when buying the ticket.
    - The plane should be cleaned of such substances before the flight.
    - The materials other people have should be checked in the baggage.
    - Other passengers who object should be offered an alternate flight.

    And those “obviously health” people you see have invisible heart conditions that can produce a heart attack if they overexert. Also, you might be seeing a normal spouse or relative parking the car to pick up a handicapped person who is in the building.

    6/23/2010 14:35

    Thank you for your post midimagic. The DOT is interested in hearing alternative solutions.

    6/23/2010 01:56

    Tiffany 462, an Epi-Pen stops the reaction for a few minutes at most. During that time, the allergen must be removed, or the allergic person must be removed from the allergen. And it is dangerous to use a second Epi-Pen soon after the first one. It is not a cure, but a stopgap measure to save life. There is probably not an airport within reach during the time the Epi-Pen works.

    Your nonsense has to stop. Some people are required to fly, often by government decree (e.g. a court appearance).

    6/12/2010 03:11

    I could not be happier if airlines discontinue serving peanuts on flights. As a life long peanut allergy sufferer, I have always held out hope that airlines would recognize that they are providing their passengers with the #1 food allergy product. I have seen many arguments that they should be banned in restaurants, ballparks etc., however, those venues are completely voluntary (establishments that promote/provide peanuts that are shelled and thrown on the floor do not get my business) but airline travel is a closed quarters, necessity for many people. I, for one, have to contend with residue and airborne particulate from those little bags of roasted peanuts served on aircraft almost on a daily basis since I am an airline Captain. For 22 years I have been meticulous with keeping my work environment (flight deck) safe for me by not consuming items that may contain peanuts, avoiding touching my eyes and asking my co-pilot not to consume bagged peanuts (other peanut products that don’t risk going airborne are usually ok). Unfortunately, my ability to control my environment becomes more difficult when I am assigned a reposition flight and must ride as a passenger. I advise the flight attendants and hope they remember. I have suffered mild/moderate anaphyalactic and asthmatic distress if I am unaware that someone opened a bag of peanuts. Thankfully that type of exposure is not life threatening (at least not yet) but the concern is very real. I am not a child, I am not traveling for pleasure and I don’t have the power of completely removing something that can be life threatening for me while at work so I do the best I can to continue safely performing my duties as an airline pilot. I support the ban for airlines not to serve bagged peanut products and support the requirement that a public address announcement be made for those that have brought their own on board refrain from consuming them. When traveling in the cabin, I am always aware of those around me and what they are consuming. I have come to find that my sensitivity is mostly a distance of 1 row forward and back and two seats laterally (about 5-6 feet). If I can detect the odor of peanuts then I become concerned. In case you were wondering, yes I do carry an epinephrine auto injector (never used one), Allegra and antihistamine eye drops. Not having peanuts served during a flight would be of great benefit for me and other allergy sufferers. As a side note, commercial grade, not cold pressed, peanut oil is fine for most peanut allergy sufferers. The process of extracting the oil leaves none of the offending protein. I have consumed many products prepared with peanut oil, albeit with great trepidation, and have not had any adverse reactions.

    6/12/2010 19:56

    I long for the day when I can book a flight for my family. But at the moment, that seems practically impossible as my 4 year old son has a severe peanut allergy. He has reacted in an enclosed room before. Thankfully, we were on land, not thousands of feet up in the air, making treatment much more feasible. I am terrified of being on a plane and him coming into contact with peanuts in any way shape or form. I have contacted airlines to see if a request could be made to keep a flight peanut free, but was advised not to fly with them instead or to simply stand up on the flight and beg everyone not to eat peanuts during the flight. I have chosen not to fly. We live 13 hours from our family. It is a drive-able distance, but I would love to be able to spend more time with my family than getting there and back or consider a vacation where driving would not be an option (i.e. Hawaii).
    I know a day will come when we need to get somewhere in a limited amount of time. At this point, I would have to find childcare for my son as he could not come with us, or not attend at all.
    My son did not choose this allergy. There is nothing he can do to make it go away. He is dependent upon other people to keep him healthy by preventing him from ingesting or inhaling any peanut product. In this way it is a disability.
    I remain hopeful the the DOT will ban all peanut products on flights and inform all passengers on a flight when a person with such an allergy is on board.

    6/25/2010 08:16

    howie — My son has a severe peanut allergy diagnosed by respected allergy doctors so it is not paranoia. The part about food allergies (anaphylaxis in particular) is that each reaction can be different. One exposure can simply lead to hives or vomiting, while another exposure can trigger full anaphylactic shock which may be fatal, if untreated. Some people my only react when the item is ingested or some when comes into contact with the skin. This issue is not a joke or to be taken lightly. Consider this. The epi-pen emergency medication is effective for 15-20 minutes per dose before the patient needs to get to the hospital. If you were on the plane with my son and he has an allergic reaction on a flight from the East Coast to the West Coast, he would need to take several epi-pens in case an emergency landing would be necessary. So would you rather divert your plane to save my child’s life in the event of an accidental exposure because you really need a peanut on a six hour flight or could you hold off and avoid endangering my child’s life and not risk impacting a whole planeload of people?

    I wish no one would have to deal with this issue. I don’t relish the fact that we would inconvenience other travelers, but I think that if it was your child you may think differently. We deal with this on a daily basis and have only travelled by plane one time. We contacted the airline in advance, found the first flight of the day to ensure the plane was as clean as possible, took several epi-pens, covered the seats with towels and worried the whole time and that was only 1.5 hours.

    My vote would be to ban peanuts and peanut products only on a flight where a passenger with a peanut allergy requests a peanut-free flight in advance.

    6/17/2010 17:29

    Peanuts should never be banned anywhere! Best food for the size available. If my kid’s school were to attempt to ban them, they would be the target of a discrimination lawsuit. Food allergies are incredibly rare. Most people who believe they are allergic only think so because their parents misinformed them out of total paranoia. c1r2mom – have you actually HAD that reaction, or do you just think you might?

    6/22/2010 13:42

    I think it’s fair to ban airlines from serving packets of peanuts. If people want peanuts, they can certainly get their own and really, why do you need peanuts specifically? On Southwest you can already request a peanut free flight as far as what they offer (they offer crackers instead).

    DO I think they should ban all peanut products, such as peanut butter or Snickers or things like that? No. Maybe work to create a peanut free zone, allow people with allergies to move and/or make the peanut product eating person move. Dust won’t spread in that way, making it safer for people who are allergic to peanuts, but without restricting too much the rights of others. Even schools, for example, generally have a place where students can eat their lunch – a peanut free table or something similar. We need to balance things.

    For the record, I have friends with gluten allergies, etc who have a limited set of foods they can eat, peanut products being one of them. If we start regulating food too much, you’re going to always be having someone who can’t eat anything allowed on the flight due to their own sensitivities.

    *I’d like to add – I don’t think airlines need to necessarily serve peanut products. If you want peanut stuff, bring it, but you don’t have a “right” to be served peanuts by the airline. I say this as someone with no allergy. But banning people from bringing peanut products – especially products that just contain peanuts as one ingredient, not bagged – goes too far.

    6/22/2010 20:14

    Well, a peanut allergy should be known in children flying, but sadly, too often it is too late then. I do not back banning peanuts, but even in doubt, a child would get peanuts, when they can produce proof of no such allergy, if in doubt, give something else. A law that prevents harm, does not have to be a blanket law. There are intelligent ways to do this. There is a way, to tell someone whether or not a patient is allergic to peanuts. It could be part of a passport. What about salt sensitive folks and pretzels? What about gluten allergy?

    6/23/2010 04:15

    An outright ban on all commercial flights is unjustifiable and would be strongly fought by the peanut industry, congress, and others. Follow existing models. For example, in schools across America, there are peanut-free classrooms and peanut-free lunch tables in cafeterias. Peanut-free schools in whole are rare to non-existent.

    If you mandate the offering of peanut-free flights, airlines are likely to simply phase out peanuts from their menus.

    For a peanut-free flight, it is not enough to simply ban handing out peanut snacks. All passengers must be told and screened for peanuts and peanut-containing products. Those PB&J sandwiches are ubiquitous — I’m sure at least one passenger has one on most every flight.

    So yes, provide a safe, peanut-free environment, but don’t go overboard and beyond what is necessary and customary to accommodate the disability.

    I feel bad for the peanut industry. All this negativity translates to economic losses. I would encourage you not to single out peanuts but rather all allergyns. Allow people to specify their allergyn and severity, and then either make the area or entire flight free of the allergyn (including informing and restricting what passengers can board with — oh, and they should wash their hands well to remove the oils/allergyns).

    6/23/2010 16:30

    Whatever happened to personal responsibility? I am a firm believer that people should not put themselves in harms way…that being said, if a person wants to do something that may cause them harm, then need to take precautions to mitigate the harmful effects, or not partake in the activity. If you want to fly and have an allergy, you should insure that you have medication available and wear a mask, gloves and whatever else you need to protect yourself.

    One percent reported incidents is hardly enough to attack an entire industry, be it the Airlines or the Peanut industries.

    What next must be banned to appease those people that have no personal responsibility?

    6/26/2010 01:33

    As a traveler with no peanut allergy, I am nevertheless sympathetic to the problems that can arise. However, I think that either a complete restriction or a buffer zone should not be an airline responsibility. One cannot sterilize the environment of all dangerous or potentially dangerous items or conditions.

    I believe that responsibility resides with the allergy-sensitive person, to make the decision on exposure, and have the medical items needed to deal with individual exposures. Certainly, airlines could carry Epi-pens, but the allergic individual should rely on their own medication to control an allergic reaction.

    I believe, that NO regulation should be adopted on this issue.

    6/26/2010 19:20

    I would only support restrictive rules banning passengers from carrying any items containing peanuts if and only if airlines resumed serving free meals. Most people who do not suffer peanut allergies do not know how to purchase foods that don’t contain peanuts. It is unreasonable to expect that every single passenger on every single flight will avoid for example, peanut butter crackers, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chocolates, and Thai food. If airlines served free food on the flights once again, they could make sure the food did not contain any peanut products, and the passengers would not feel the need to bring their own food and accidentally expose sensitive passengers to peanut products.

    6/28/2010 15:59

    We recently flew with our 9 year old peanut allergic child. We notified the airline in advance as we have for every other flight. I do travel prepared for emergencies,knowing that an epi pen will only work for a short period but carrying it nontheless.

    The airline we were on, Delta, announced early in 2010 that they would NO longer be serving peanuts, which is why we chose this airline. First flight, no problem, serving pretzels or cookies. Return flight, as the attendants were approaching our aisle, I thought I was smelling peanuts. I asked and Yes indeedy, they were serving peanuts. Ddn’t know she was onboard, and Gee they’re sorry but they haven’t actually implemnted the policy they advertised of no peanuts. They quickly gave us a 3 aisle buffer zone, which totally made the other passengers angry as they wanted the same peanuts the other passengers a row or two ahead of them had gotten. Always nice to have people make angry comments aimed at a CHILD. Yes my daughter felt terrible and was very embarrassed, and I was angry that she had put in a situation that embarrassed her and, more importantly, I was angry that her health was in danger.

    The buffer zones, even when implemented in advance of food service simply can not work. Peanuts have oil and that oil gets on the hands of every single person eating them. The oil is then transferred onto every single surface of the airplane, and we all know that no cursory cleaning will take care of it. Even if she is in a “clean zone”, the previous 1000 flights have so contaminated the plane that it is not safe for her. And the bathrooms, armrests, overhead bins, you name it. ANY surface that is touched by a peanut eating person is deadly to my daughter. Fortunately for us, she does not have a severe airborne allergy, or the smell of the forward cabin’s 100 passenger’s munching on peanuts would have killed her!

    Being asked to forgo peanut snacks for one flight, one snack, one meal is not a big deal for people when the cost of that snack could be a life. I mean really, even if it’s your fav snack in the world, wouldn’t you give it up for a day if it meant YOUR child might die?? This seems like a no brainer!

    6/28/2010 17:19

    In this discussion many mention a ‘slippery slope’ – extending to examples of banning of perfume, latex, body oder, etc. This point is interesting, but what if we stand back for a moment and consider what the intended impact of a regulation like this could be? The clear sort of first order response you would expect would be to protect the livelihood / convenience of the sensitive members of our society. I would argue, however, that there is a more dangerous unintended consequence inherent in removing the responsibility of these individuals to be so cautious and concerned for their own safety; by promoting an ‘allergen free’ environment you dilute individual responsibility by distributing the liability evenly to those who travel with the allergic individual.

    More clearly: (hypothetically) packets of peanuts are banned on planes. Passenger A – allergic to peanuts, Passenger B – packs a snack containing traces of peanuts for his/her x hour plane trip. Serendipitously seated next to one another passenger A realizes too late that B has ____ – and ends up dead. Passenger A’s family wants to know who is responsible?

    You can’t search everyone’s bag for explosives / sharp objects / and peanuts. You cannot ensure that everyone will read signs and participate willingly. If someone purposely or even accidentally brings a banned peanut on the plane – should they be arrested? or just scoffed at very harshly?

    In my opinion, the question of a ban is absurd. I would gladly forgo my allotment of peanuts to preserve someone else’s comfort – but you’re not going to find any solidarity among a random sample of individuals. So I would assert that the most reasonable solution is that allergic people remain guarded in their own concern as this is the situation in which the most value will be generated to motivate proper management. Their steadfast concern for their own health, or that of a loved one will generate the safest environment for everyone involved.

    Rather than debating where peanuts should and shouldn’t be, I believe we would be better off investing this energy in trying to find ways to help people better manage their own allergies. This situation (in my mind) does not mandate legislation – but instead reveals that we aren’t yet properly equipped (though tools and further understanding) to allow these members of our society a comfortable / regular life.

6/2/2010 15:13

I know that peanut allergies are a serious problem for some in our society, but I think DOT is on a slippery slope if it bans peanuts. I am allergic to tree nuts and I know others that are allergic to wheat or dairy, is the DOT going to ban those products as well? What if someone buys peanuts at the airport shop, how will the airlines police those peanuts. I do like the idea of using technology to attack the problem. It would seem easy for the airline to include as part of the buying process a drop down menu about being allergic to peanuts or wheat or something else.

6/2/2010 22:14

I have two children with multiple severe food allergies. I support a ban on any food with peanut ingredients on airplanes (processed in a factory or may contain trace warnings are acceptable to me)actual peanut ingredients in the actual ingredient list should be banned . Presently We only fly airlines that do not serve peanuts or agree to not serve it on our flight (like southwest airlines does). although, once on a southwest flight my daughter had a mild reaction. We think it was from residue from the previous flight. it was mild enough that benadryl was sufficient to control the symptoms. Individuals with severe allergies typically carry their own emergency medical kit (epi-pen, benadryl, steroid, inhaler). I wouldn’t expect the airline to provide the emergency medical equipment. we carry ours wherever we go at all times.

    6/3/2010 00:03

    Sorry about the format. Everything HAD been neatly spaced.

6/2/2010 22:19

The buffer zone solution would not give me any confidence. The time that my daughter had a reaction it was right after visiting the restroom. In a buffer zone situation the person could still be exposed to peanut residue in other parts of the plane (e.g. the restroom door handle, sink faucet, etc). Now we carry wipes and wipe down every surface in our seating area and in the restroom when we fly an airline like southwest that serves peanuts on previous flights even if they aren’t serving it on ours.

    6/2/2010 22:48

    Welcome to the community Martine. It seem that you take active precautions to avoid peanut allergy problems. What steps do you think the airline should take?

    What do others think about the proposed buffer zone?

    6/2/2010 23:50

    Buffer zones do not help in common areas like bathrooms. Also, that means that the persons prior to the flight ate peanuts there. I mentioned on another discussion board that the flight crew pointed my son out and told passengers they could not have Peanut M&Ms because my son had an allergy. The passengers were all nice about it but it made me very uncomfortable. I have seen people be really nasty about asking them not to do something because fo someone else.

    6/3/2010 00:44

    Thanks for the information? Are other contributors aware of similar experiences?

    6/4/2010 02:35

    I was told once when I booked a flight that the airline (I believe continental) didn’t serve them anyone and after taking off found out that they DID still serve them and was told, when I voiced my concern that there was no guarantee. I am a person who is SEVERELY allergic and the passenger beside me who accepted the peanuts, hearing about my concern, could have cared less that his neighbor (me) was covering her nose with her sleeve for the entire 3hr flight with an inhaler in hand. While it will never be banned as a terminal they can have “Peanut Free” flights and advertise them that way… and I guarantee they will get more business. Anyone who flies that flight and agrees upon purchase of the tickets to abide by rules, should be fine if found with a product in violation. I mean afterall, if it wasn’t a big deal, whiy would public schools and daycares be banning it across the US?

    6/22/2010 17:27

    c1r2mom: I’m curious how much you fly each year?

    Gym
    7/6/2010 13:01

    I’ve experienced tantrums from fully grown adults because they were restricted in their peanut consumption in daycare environments. I’d rather not have this experience on a flight. My daughter will only fly on peanut-free planes (if peanut is on the ingredients list, the item should be banned. Made in a peanut facility is fine and the allergic individual should know not to consume the item. As far as I understand it, highly processed peanut oil is safe.)

    6/5/2010 01:10

    Just read about a buffer zone, and the lavitories, good point, I also, know if Flight attendants eat these items with there hands it still would create a problem also, that is why no one has wanted to address this, that is why it is important that it is. How do you stop people from breing it one, and such that is ahard issue

    6/5/2010 14:46

    My 9 year old peanut-allergic son had his last major exposure 2 years ago when he touched a smear of peanut butter left under a tabletop where someone else had touched. He then wiped his hand on his jeans and then touched his ear and his cheek. All without realizing it was peanut butter he’d touched. He immediately broke out in horrible hives and I gave him benadryl and got him home, stripped and bathed. All the while, I was watching for breathing problems and other signs of anaphylaxis. This is why I don’t support buffer zones alone. They don’t address peanuts stuck down in cushions, left in seatbacks or peanut product oils left, well, anywhere by earlier passengers/flights.

    6/28/2010 14:53

    Why is this anyone else’s problem? Your child had an unpleasant reaction. NOT a dangerous one. This is not a life or death issue, it is only a matter of comfort. If a smear of peanut butter that got wiped on his face just caused hives, then there really isn’t anything to be afraid of is there?

    6/22/2010 21:22

    The buffer zone does not work. First – if the allergy is severe enough to be airborne – the air in the airplane is circulated through the whole plane, not just the three rows in front and behind you. It also singles out the person and makes the people in the buffer zone upset that they had to sit there.

6/2/2010 22:40

I don’t see the harm in banning at least the service of peanuts on the airlines. The ban should include all peanut and peanut containing products. Recently we flew across the country and followed all of the procedures the airline gave us in turn they promised to clean seats and create a buffer zone to sheild my 3 year old son from any peanut exposure. As I walked to me seat expecting what I was promised I find left over peanuts in our seats! I came prepared with wipes and medicine just in case. The airline offered no assistance in fixing the problem. After cleaning everything up and getting all settled in, I had to hold my son for the next 5 hours because it was too risky. At the onset of an attack the use of an epi-pen would give us about 20 minutes to be in a hospital. During the snack a member of the flight crew pointed at us and told the other passengers that he could not offer them peanut M&Ms because there was an allergy sufferer on board. Thankfully, after a dose of benadryl my son was fine.

I do think the passenger should come equipped with medication if case of exposure. Most severe allergy suffers carry medicine with them anyway. It would not hurt for the airline to carry addition medication because the epi-pen only allows 20 minutes to seek immediate medical attention.

    6/2/2010 22:53

    I forgot to mention that I would not expect the airline to provide my son’s medication! Currently southwest does not serve peanut products on their flights. After this experience we only fly with Southwest!

    6/3/2010 01:26

    That’s crazy. What airline was it?

    6/17/2010 17:36

    Southwest DOES serve peanuts (thank god) unless you impose your paranoia on the rest of us and request a peanut free flight.

6/2/2010 22:46

I would like to see the airlines stop serving peanuts. Having them not serve peanuts when my children are going to be on a particular flight doesn’t do much for us. If they have served 200 people 200 little bags of peanuts on the 200 previous flights…. – it makes my skin crawl.

We can live with them serving other foods that “may” contain peanuts. It would be nice if they at least had one “safe” alternative for my children to eat – or allow them to bring safe food of their own on the plane with them.

As for the “slippery slope” argument – I don’t buy it. I’ve never heard of anyone having a wheat allergy going into anaphylaxis from some one sitting next to them eating a sandwich. People with food allergies have reactions when they INJEST food. The issue with peanuts is that when 200 people open 200 little bags of nuts and all the dust goes Poof! There is enough peanut dust in the air for some one (like my sons) to actually injest the allergen.

As for meds – everyone that has a true life threatening food allergy should be carrying their own epi-pens with them. I wouldn’t think that the airlines are going to want to get into the hassle of giving passengers medicine.

I would like to mention though that on the last flight I was on with my children we payed quite a bit of money on a “snack box” that didn’t have the ingredients labeled on the outside of the box, only to find that most of the food in the box was not safe for my kids to eat. A list of ingredients should always be available to us before we have to pay for food.

6/2/2010 23:00

My son has a severe peanut allergy, we also avoid tree nuts. While he’s never had a reaction to just being around peanuts his allergist has suggested we do what we can to avoid contact. Flying makes that difficult. We’ve only flown once since we found out about his allergy and thankfully it was not on a flight that served peanuts. I did later take a flight (on Delta) by myself where they served peanuts and it made me cringe. I think that they should stop serving peanuts or things that directly contain them. Yes, other passengers could bring on their own, but that isn’t as bad as the entire plane having a package of peanuts!!! And just because you haven’t currently had an airborne reaction to peanuts doesn’t mean you won’t have one ever. Most (responsible) allergy sufferers carry their own epinephrine auto injector BUT I don’t think it would hurt for the airlines to carry a few in their medical supplies. We typically carry two because I know that the effects of it can wear off in 15-20 minutes, so just in case we are far from a hospital we have an extra, but I know not everyone does that, or even if they do, being in an airplane it is likely to take much longer to get the medical help you need. I would love to see a ban on peanuts though, I’d feel better about flying if that happened and possibly do it more often, especially since trips back “home” take almost 20 hours by car!

    6/17/2010 17:37

    Allergist has an agenda. the fact that he has never reacted is more telling than any suggestion by the self-servig allergist.

6/2/2010 23:06

While a peanut allergy is a huge issue, what about other allergies? 10% of the population is allergic to perfumes yet this is not mentioned here. Airlines are filled with perfumes and international flights sell it duty free. Personal air purifiers are not allowed so it leaves 10% of the population unable to fly or risk anaphylaxis on every flight.

    6/2/2010 23:16

    Thanks for the comment! It looks like the proposed rule is narrowly focused on peanuts. Where is the allergy data from in your post? Is it misguided for the FAA to only address peanut allergies or what’s your position?

    6/12/2010 03:36

    Yes, perfumes and many other products are allergens, most would be classified as irritants and are not life threatening. Peanuts are in a unique class of allergen that is quite widespread among the general population that has airborne particulate and that can be life threatening. This is about documents risk mitigation for a voluntary product provided by a company.

6/3/2010 00:03

I have one child who is severely allergic to peanuts. She is one of those few who react from dust, practically. We made a decision at an early age simply not to fly. The airlines have no cohesive, consistent policy and this issue is not something we can show up and be surprised about.

It would help children, and adults, like my daughter if the DOT banned peanuts on all flights. Of course, asking airlines to stop serving peanuts is not enough. The DOT would need to require that no passenger bring them aboard as well. Let’s face it, cuts to the airlines have put food at the bottom of their priority list (hence handing out “snacks” like peanuts). So…if you will be flying for hours and have little prospect for food, what is the perfect protein packed food you can bring that needs no refrigeration?

I almost feel like banning peanuts would give people a false sense of security UNLESS a complete and total ban was instituted (airline & passengers).

That being said, I appreciate the argument about other allergies, as well as perfume (though I do not believe anaphylaxis is generally an issue for those allergic to perfume). Why do we need food on board at all? Perhaps that is a bit naive and narrow-minded, but how about a drinks-only rule? Do 1 or 2 hours flights really need to serve ANY kind of food? Propose that to the airlines as a cost saving measure! (Of course, longer flights or international is a whole other ballgame.)

So, to answer the DOT questions over there <—- I would say:

1. From empirical evidence, I believe there is a strong likelihood of a peanut allergy sufferer having a severe reaction if the conditions were right. My daughter developed hives from peanut shell residue that had touched a banana peel. She touched the peel to her skin and broke out in hives. It doesn’t take much.

2. I feel strongly that people should take responsibility for themselves and, therefore, would expect all allergy sufferers to carry their own epinephrine. However, I am under the assumption that a plane would have first aid available and possibly a defibrillator. Adding epinephrine to this kit would only be a good business practice.

3. I would feel (relatively) safe on a plane where peanut-ingredient products are banned from airline and passengers, but “may contains” were permitted. My allergic daughter would not consume them, but the chance of her having a reaction from cross contact or inhalation are virtually nil. Again, it’s about personal responsibility. We will take care of her food. We just need help keeping her alive and safe from other peoples food.

    6/3/2010 00:51

    Thanks you for sharing your story and this information. If a total ban (airline and passenger) weren’t possible, what would the ideal policy you’d support as far as the airlines conduct is concerned?

6/3/2010 00:10

Few if any airlines offer peanuts anymore. But peanuts are not the only allergen- what about pets? More people are allergic to pets than peanuts.

    6/3/2010 00:37

    Thanks for commenting. Is there some place we should look to find information regarding which airlines distribute peanut foods or foods in contact with peanuts? Also, where should I look for the data regarding pet and peanut allergies? Let’s get the information out in the open so we can start sifting through it!

    8/6/2010 19:51

    I know Delta serves peanuts as I travel to and from Detroit on Delta. I was really surprised to learn this as I didn’t know until I was on the plane and in the air. I mean really, shouldn’t they tell people before they pay for a flight?

    Oh and the two row minimum around a person with a peanut allergy is a joke. Someone with a peanut allergy is not going to be protected by that!

6/3/2010 00:12

Airlines should disclose potential allergens on a flight (i.e. pets allowed, food served, etc.).

    6/3/2010 00:56

    I agree – it’s be wise to disclose potential allergens. However, what happens beyond the disclosure?

    I agree, r88c, there are more allergens than just peanuts (my family has a few beyond peanuts in our own list.) However, there’s a difference between my cat allergy (stuffy head, watery eyes) and my daughter’s peanut, tree nut and shellfish allergies – threat of anaphylaxis, vomiting, swelling of lips, itching in the mouth, etc.) *Any* food allergen (any allergen) can trigger life threatening reactions – BUT, peanuts and tree nuts combine for the top cause of ER visits for treatment of life threatening symptoms each year.

    WHole peanuts/nuts are also more apt to release dust particles through the air system, then, say, opening a milk carton. Is it perfect? no but it is a start.

    As a mother of a peanut allergic child, I won’t fly with her on flights that serve peanuts. I won’t fly with her if i can’t have her EpiPen with her in flight.

6/3/2010 01:03

Peanut allergies are severe allergies. The one item that people are deathly allergic to can easily be eliminated from food served by airlines. People allergic to peanuts also have to worry about other people eating peanuts as residue can be left, or peanut “dust” from bags opening can potentially cause a reaction. As previously stated, banning it from one flight is not very helpful to the severely allergic. Think about a young child. If someone left residue or even a peanut on a seat from a prior flight – if the child touches it and then touches their mouth a severe reaction could occur. As for questions of why look at peanuts – an article on CNN’s website looking at 31 food allergy deaths, says that “More than 80 percent of deaths were caused by peanuts or tree nuts.” http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/conditions/03/26/food.allergies/index.html
Another statistic give by AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology) is that fatal food anaphylaxis is most often caused by peanuts (50-62%) and tree nuts (15-30%).” http://aaaai.org/media/statistics/allergy-statistics.asp

    6/3/2010 01:05

    Thanks for the data!

    6/17/2010 17:39

    More than 31 people drop dead each day FOR NO REASON. Food allergies are so rare, that the rest of the world should not concern themselves. IF you have a problem (doubtful) then it is up to YOU to take precautions!

    7/31/2010 13:21

    WI feel sorry for anyone with any type of severe allerery. What about the other causes of the 20% of deaths or don’t they count? SHouldn’t we ban eggs, latex, shellfish etc as there may be a passenger who has a severe reaction to those.

6/3/2010 01:28

I would support a full ban of peanut products on any airline. Peanut reactions can be life threatening. An individual doesn’t have to consume the product to have a life threatening reaction. They can have contact or inhalation reactions.Restricting to certain flights is not enough, as residue can be rampant. Providing buffer zones is a thoughtful gesture, but from a practical point of view does not work. With so many food choices available, why are peanuts a necessary choice? I am a physician , and author on the subject. I have free food allergy online support forums with 3000 members. http://www.drmomsallergyrx.com/

    6/3/2010 01:33

    I would be more than willing to work with you in any way on this decision making process. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

    6/3/2010 03:50

    Welcome to Regulation Room and thanks for the offer. We’re looking forward to your future thoughtful comments.

    6/3/2010 04:23

    The allergic community is so grateful that you are allowing our voices to be heard. The decision you are considering could save many lives. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, anything you need or want to know please ask.If you email me, I will send you my telephone number author@drmomsallergyrx.com

    6/3/2010 04:44

    And hasn’t there been new studies that show 1 out of 10 people with a peanut allergy will have a reaction on an airplane?

    6/3/2010 18:45

    Thanks for the information Dr Mom.

    So that more users and the DOT could access the information, perhaps you could post a link to a pdf version of the study or the name and author of the study.

    6/18/2010 15:54

    Has ANYONE ever actually died on a plane from eating peanuts? Didn’t think so. Most food allergies are imagined. You clearly have a financial interest in promoting the myth of food allergy. If someone is actually that allergic, they should stay home and not inconvenience the rest of us.

    6/22/2010 21:28

    I wish it were imagined – I have a 9-year old with a peanut allergy and she has had a reaction on a plane due to peanuts being served. The doctor above understands that the peanut allergy is different from most ofter food allergies because in it life threatening. I don’t understand how not being able to eat peanuts for a few hours out of your life is worth putting another life at risk.

    6/24/2010 14:17

    Howie,
    You have no idea what you are talking about. They are not mostly imagined and it is a serious issue. If you can’t survive hours or days without peanuts then that is your problem and if you think it is that much of an inconvenience then maybe you should see somebody to deal with your own lack of discipline.

6/3/2010 01:38

The airlines/DOT should absolutely adopt a blanket policy concerning severe food allergies to peanuts but not limit it to that, I would like to see it extended to tree nuts. Many people/children who are allergic to 1 are generally allergic to the other. The policy should be adopted because severe food allergies is a disability in the eyes of the ADA (Americans with Disabilites Act) A person who cannot perform one of lifes major functions definition:
Major life activity” means functions such as: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and/or working.

A severe allergic reaction includes anaphylaxis..the major function here the person cannot perform is breathing.

I have an allergic child who can have3 a severe reaction to tree nuts/peanuts & we have seen her go into anaphylactic shock from minimal exposure to allergens & have seen her react to contact..touching a contaminated surface then touching her own skin/face.

We have flown SOuthwest & Jet Blue, both very accommodating..JB more than SW are so knowledgeable, know what snacks to remove & what ingredients to look for. They also make an announcement to request passengers refrain from eating their own snacks because of an allergic passenger..and they are good about respecting privacy. SW removes snacks & allows preboard to wipe down seats, etc., but no announcement. They do have an alternative snack ready & know ahead of time that there will be a PA child on board as our itinerary gets double noted..online & follow up phone call. JB also allows preboard so we can clean, they even offer their own anti bac wipes. I have heard horror stories about Delta who will only provied a buffer zone which is no help if the allergy is airborne or contact. We bring our own emergency meds which is only good for 20 min. An airline should have EpiPen & EpiPen jr on board in case there is 1st time exposure & should be trained to use them, it is not didfficult. Most will bring their own.

    6/3/2010 01:55

    Thanks for all of the information regarding your experiences on JB and SW.

    Can other contributors provide further details on this or on other airline’s policies?

    Is JB the gold standard for their food allergen policies?

    Should the rule be for peanuts, pinenuts, or what types of nuts?

    6/3/2010 16:46

    I agree. While my daughter is peanut allergic only, I would in no way be opposed to banning other foods that are common anaphylaxis causers on a plane.

    7/12/2010 16:05

    I think there is a problem in assuming that a “blanket policy” is going to be a good solution for every customer. By definition, a “blanket policy” is going to make someone unhappy, because it involves tradeoffs. If you have a blanket “no-peanut” policy, peanut eaters will be unhappy; if you have a blanket “pro-peanut” policy, obviously allergy sufferers will be unhappy.

    I think the solution is to let the different airlines have different policies which are easily accessible by customers, so that customers can make their own decisions about where to fly. This way, peanut lovers and people who are allergic to peanuts can both get their ways- by choosing to fly different airlines.

    For example, you say that Southwest and JetBlue are both very accommodating. If this is the case (I believe it is) then you should reward those companies by giving them your business. Those who dislike those policies can choose to fly elsewhere.

    Here is a link I’m not sure if anyone else has posted from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network about which airlines do not serve peanuts in coach class:

    http://www.foodallergy.org/page/faq

    Because this information is available to you, you are free to make your decision on this basis. I think, if anything, the DOT regulation should make sure that allergy policies are disclosed. However, airlines should be free to pursue different policies to give consumers the choice to fly peanut-free if they so desire.

    8/6/2010 20:02

    Here’s the thing with letting airlines decide-why should I be limited in my modes of transportation because of the airline providing an optional snack? Or a passenger bringing them on board?

    I’m I to seek employment that doesn’t require travel? Am I not to visit my relatives? Maybe the peanut free flights aren’t on an airline I can afford or that is traveling to a place I need to go.

    The ADA is about equal access-not about what’s easy for others. banning peanut and tree nuts from air travel is not a hard or obtrusive thing to do.

    Your argument is like the people parking in the disabled spot for a second as they run in to get the pizza. “It’s only for a minute”

    Is it really that important for a non-allergic person to eat peanuts on their flight? They can’t pick them up at the grocery store?

    If someone is going to potentially die because of a food allergy on my flight I’d gladly give up my bag of peanuts or anything else for that matter.

6/3/2010 01:57

I have a young son who is beyond Class 6 (highest class)for peanuts/tree nuts. For him, it simply is not a matter of “passing up” on a snack. Anaphylaxis can happen much more readily for him by the transfer of oils (peanut oils on airline tray tables, arm rests). It can also happen by airborne dust. In a flight where peanuts are being served and all 100+ bags go POOF at the same time they are opened – well, let’s just say it would be a mother’s nightmare. Especialy with recycled cabin air. Even without a peanut allergy, peanuts are just such a choking hazard for any small children. Why serve them? There are plenty of reasonable alternatives. I recall when my son was first diagnosed, 1 week prior to Christmas. Our pediatrician called us at all of our nighttime emergency numbers just to ensure we wouldn’t step onto any holiday airline flights without an epi-pen and proper documentation of his condition. I was FLOORED to f sind out that Delta still served peanuts. Really?? Peanut allergy is unlike some other food allergies in that there are multiple ways to have reaction (ingestion, touching, breathing). My suggestion would be to ban peanut products on all airlines. But that still does not/will not control what snacks others bring on. So I would suggest they still offer peanut free buffer zones and have some method of ensuring passengers in those rows are aware of what that means (don’t bring or open peanut snacks). I also think that pre-boarding should be an option, so that peanut families can go and wipe down the tray tables/arm rests themselves and feel comfortable with the environment in which their child will be sitting. I’ve been on one too many flights were peanuts have been banned simply due to an allergic person flying…and I feel SO MUCH sympathy for those families, because the airline staff does not seem to be good at respecting their privacy. In fact, they almost act begruding or point out the poor child to other. What kid wants to be labeled? In all honesty, I can’t see making the switch to peanut free snacks to be that big an impact to the airlines. As long as items are clearly labeled (most, not all pretzels) are o.k. If nothing else, I am so very appreciative that this issue is gaining attention. I don’t think airlines realize how many passengers don’t fly them due to their poor policies. In fact, I learned so much already today reading these message boards. I will make it a point to frequent the airlines (that serve my area) where people seem to have had really positive and supportive environments when flying with their children. Great info for me to have as a parent. I also wonder if you couldn’t look into how the major sports arenas handle peanut allergies. Most will offer at least one “peanut free” day so that children can enjoy major league sports like baseball etc. So it can be done. And they have WAY more people in one arena than on a single flight. Thanks again for allowing us to share our thoughts!!

    6/3/2010 02:06

    Link for what I could find regarding how major sports arenas handle peanut allergies: http://www.sportsdestinations.com/ID-63-articleDetails.aspx

    6/3/2010 02:17

    Welcome to Regulation Room and thanks for your comment!
    The sports arena information may be useful to other contributors as they continue to comment.
    Given the concerns expressed regarding singling out allergic passengers, does anyone have a suggestion for the best way to inform passengers of the need to refrain from peanut consumption?
    Should this be a part of the rule? Should it be up to the airlines? Should there be announcements to passengers? Should this be part of the rule?
    Thoughts?

    6/5/2010 14:53

    There’s no need to single out passengers if the ban is airline-wide. There should be written announcements when a ticket is purchased, when a passenger is checked in and a verbal announcement by the flight attendant during the safety spiel at the start of the flight.

    8/6/2010 20:06

    It should be part of the rule. As many times as I have flown, I can’t remember a single time someone brought their own bag of peanuts on board.

    But this way, if they are banned, you prevent some allergic person from potentially dying because someone is a selfish jerk.

    6/12/2010 03:55

    You articulated that very, very well. Welcome to my world as a severe peanut allergy sufferer and airline Captain. I have been dealing with this for over 22 years! I am yearning for the day (to return for the airline I work for as they had discontinued serving them for a few years only to declare the substitute, almonds, was too expensive and brought back peanuts) that I do not have to tell, an incredulous, flight attendant that I need a peanut free zone if I have to travel in the cabin!

    6/18/2010 06:51

    Make your voice heard, Captain!

6/3/2010 02:16

I have a son w/ life threatening food allergies. I believe all nut products should be ban, especially peanuts. I have flown w/ my son on several occasions and I have called the airline when purchasing tickets, a month ahead and a day before to make sure it would be a peanut free flight. On 2 occasions they have still served peanuts or peanut butter. This is very upsetting, my son also has asthma which makes his allergies that much worse. A buffer zone in my opinion is not a option because the air circulates around the whole plane. One time we refused to get on the plane until the peanuts and peanut butter were removed, which caused the flight to be delayed. I don’t understand how smoking can be banned on flights when people are physically addicted and no one complains. Ask people to refrain from eating peanuts or peanut products and everyone is put out acting like there rights are being taken away, when it can put other passengers lives at risk. We only fly when we absolutely have to, its just to scary.

    6/3/2010 02:20

    Welcome to Regulation Room, and thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Please continue to comment on what you think the policies should be.

    What does DOT have right? What should they rethink?

6/3/2010 02:30

MODERATOR: I am having page formatting trouble when replying……

I don’t know that I would feel safe flying without a total ban. There are too many variables. Realistically, I know that a total ban is unlikely. For most people, an airline ban, a buffer zone, epinephrine in a first aid kit, and pre-boarding would probably go a long way to making them comfortable. But, like I said, it probably would not be enough for me and mine.

I’ve also heard in the past of some airlines forcing passengers to sign statements acknowledging that they will not stop the flight and seek assistance if an allergic reaction happens. I think it was American Airlines and I read the actual documents. Obviously, this practice is incredibly paralyzing. Last I knew, medical emergencies in the form of heart attacks and pre-mature labor are handled on a case by case basis and it is not unheard of to land a plane early. AA made the allergic community an exception to this practice. Could you imagine a planeload of 200 people, including crew, who sat around and did nothing while watching a 4 year old slowly suffocate and die?

Though our comfort zone is very tight, I do appreciate that the DOT is trying to reach a compromise with the allergic and non-allergic passengers. For many people, minor changes to the system will go a long way.

    6/3/2010 02:46

    Email us regarding formatting issues here: regulationroom@cornell.edu. The more detail you can provide, the better chance they’ll be able to address a fix. Feedback only makes us stronger, so please do so!

    Thanks for your comment as well.

6/3/2010 04:22

I think red eye is correct: DOT is on a slippery slope if it bans peanuts. However, I also understand the concerns of people with severe peanut allergies. Perhaps airlines could offer only select flights as “Peanut-Free” instead of a complete ban on peanuts.

    6/3/2010 05:55

    I am the mom of a child with allergies to peanuts (& I have an allergy to shellfish) and have flown six times (on Delta) with my child and had no problems, though some anxiety. Delta’s policy is to create a peanut-free buffer three rows in front & three rows behind the peanut-allergic person. One flight happened to be peanut-free because there were several passengers on the flight with peanut allergies, and the buffer zones pretty much took up the entire plane. The other flights were not peanut-free.

    What I do for flights:
    * Carry all necessary medication, including at least two self-injectors (I get Twinjects because two injectors have four doses.)
    * Let the airline know at the time of my reservation of our allergies and that I plan to board early.
    * Mention this again at the gate.
    * Bring Clorox wipes and clean my daughter’s seat, tray table etc. and the seats on either side or window/wall if she has a window seat.
    * Bring food so we don’t have to rely on the airline food.

    As mentioned by someone previously, banning peanuts is a slippery slope because there are many people with life-threatening allergies to many foods. Shellfish allergies are more common in adults than peanuts.

    Someone wrote above “As for the ‘slippery slope’ argument – I don’t buy it. I’ve never heard of anyone having a wheat allergy going into anaphylaxis from someone sitting next to them eating a sandwich.”

    Interesting point, but I can turn it around as I have never heard of a documented case of anyone going into anaphylaxis from airborne contact of peanuts. From what I understand, airborne anaphylaxis is very rare.

    If anything, I would suggest a ban on warming up peanuts, since that is more likely to put peanut proteins in the air.

    I would also suggest training staff to be sensitive to passengers with allergies. They should create allergy policies and post them in an easily findable place on their websites (most have them, it’s just tough to find on their sites) and be consistent so a passenger doesn’t think she is flying on a nut-free flight when it isn’t. And while this forum is great, I would weigh more the advice of researchers. Many people react emotionally regarding this issue and when DOT considers options, it should take into consideration what scientific studies have shown have occurred or may occur, not what well-intentioned people or panicked people think may occur.

    Epinephrine should always be the responsibility of the passenger, though it may be good policy to have extra on board in the event of an anaphylaxis (or severe asthma attack).

    A passenger’s bill or rights/ responsibilities would be helpful. (e.g. Encourage people with allergies to carry two or more self-injectors; Giving people with food allergies — Anyone with a medical condition actually– the option to board the plane early)

    I am the mom of a child with allergies to peanuts (& I have an allergy to shellfish) and have flown six times (on Delta) with my child and had no problems, though some anxiety. Delta’s policy is to create a peanut-free buffer three rows in front & three rows behind the peanut-allergic person. One flight happened to be peanut-free because there were several passengers on the flight with peanut allergies, and the buffer zones pretty much took up the entire plane. The other flights were not peanut-free.

    What I do for flights:
    * Carry all necessary medication, including at least two self-injectors (I get Twinjects because two injectors have four doses.)
    * Let the airline know at the time of my reservation of our allergies and that I plan to board early.
    * Mention this again at the gate.
    * Bring Clorox wipes and clean my daughter’s seat, tray table etc. and the seats on either side or window/wall if she has a window seat.
    * Bring food so we don’t have to rely on the airline food.

    As mentioned by someone previously, banning peanuts is a slippery slope because there are many people with life-threatening allergies to many foods. Shellfish allergies are more common in adults than peanuts.

    Someone wrote above “As for the ‘slippery slope’ argument – I don’t buy it. I’ve never heard of anyone having a wheat allergy going into anaphylaxis from someone sitting next to them eating a sandwich.”

    Interesting point, but I can turn it around as I have never heard of a documented case of anyone going into anaphylaxis from airborne contact of peanuts. From what I understand, airborne anaphylaxis is very rare.

    If anything, I would suggest a ban on warming up peanuts, since that is more likely to put peanut proteins in the air.

    I would also suggest training staff to be sensitive to passengers with allergies. They should create allergy policies and post them in an easily findable place on their websites (most have them, it’s just tough to find on their sites) and be consistent so a passenger doesn’t think she is flying on a nut-free flight when it isn’t. And while this forum is great, I would weigh more the advice of researchers. Many people react emotionally regarding this issue and when DOT considers options, it should take into consideration what scientific studies have shown have occurred or may occur, not what well-intentioned people or panicked people think may occur.

    Epinephrine should always be the responsibility of the passenger, though it may be good policy to have extra on board in the event of an anaphylaxis (or severe asthma attack).

    A passenger’s bill or rights/ responsibilities would be helpful. (e.g. Encourage people with allergies to carry two or more self-injectors; Giving people with food allergies — Anyone with a medical condition actually– the option to board the plane early.

    7/12/2010 16:11

    If you’re concerned about wiping down in-flight surfaces, I read on the Southwest website that people who are allergic to peanuts can take morning flights, because the planes are cleaned every night.

    6/3/2010 11:54

    Thanks for your comments. That is an interesting idea. How do others feel about airlines offering select flights as peanut free? Do you feel that would be a fair solution to this problem?

    6/3/2010 16:55

    Just as smoking was removed from flights due to the health risks to innocent travelers, this falls into the same category. The main difference is that a peanut reaction happens rather quickly and lung cancer/emphysema can take years. Hmmm….

    6/5/2010 14:57

    This is a very good point and a lot of parallels can be drawn.

    6/6/2010 20:56

    There is NO COMPARISON.

    Tobacco smoke, unlike peanuts, not only affects EVERYBODY, it also affects the HVAC and electronics / avionics, on-board an aircraft. Anybody who had done a “C” or “D” check aboard aircraft in the 70′s and 80′s can tell the difference, especially with the tobacco gunk on the wires and avionics.

    Peanuts does not have same health risks “to innocent passengers,” as tobacco smoke. This becomes especially true if there is knowledge and forewarning that the affected passenger assumes that peanuts are going to be served and efforts to mitigate the situation are employed.

    6/5/2010 14:56

    I don’t feel it is a viable solution as a “peanut-free” flight could follow a “peanut-allowed” flight on the same plane. Leaving peanuts in cushions and peanut residue on everything from the prior flight.

    6/5/2010 15:02

    That’s a good point. It has been suggested by other participants that there be “peanut-free zones” on flights, just as there are non-smoking zones in restaurants, where the zones are to be maintained on the airplane at all times and are kept the same for every flight. Would this address the issue of residue, or would more be needed to keep passengers and flight attendants who handle peanuts out of the area?

6/3/2010 12:56

I have to say I think this is going too far. You can’t legislate everything. In the years of flying and billions of passengers how many are truly affected by an allergy so severe that merely sniffing the air near someone eating is enough to send them into convulsions? I have to say I’ve never seen such a thing on the news. What is next? No perfume, because people are allergic to that. No deodorant, because some are allergic to that. Oh, and make sure you wear all cotton because you might bump up against someone with a skin allergy to synthetic fiber. It can quickly slide into ridiculous. I’m sorry for those who have allergies, but those people also live with them daily and know how to cope and deal with them in public.

    6/3/2010 14:35

    I think a buffer-zone would be a more realistic approach to the issue than select peanut-free flights. What if your flight is delayed and you miss a connecting peanut-free flight?

    6/3/2010 16:53

    Only problem is the recycled air. Buffer zones aren’t quite enough for those in the highest reactivity grouping.

    6/3/2010 19:39

    Elle brings up an interesting point.

    If we were to implement peanut-free flights and a person were to miss a peanut-free connecting flight or regular flight, how should this problem be dealt with?

    6/3/2010 16:56

    When people start dying from the aroma of perfume and deodorant or cotton clothing, your comments will be taken seriously. Keep this in perspective.

    6/3/2010 19:12

    Pixel brings up an interesting point.

    So that the regulators can regulate based on evidence, does anyone know if data exists on the number of peanut-related incidents on planes?

    8/6/2010 20:10

    Well, how many people avoid flying because of their allergies and not being able to control the environment they are in?

    6/4/2010 01:37

    Amen, this proposal goes too far. Freedom loving travelers don’t want to be told what they can and can’t bring on board the aircraft to eat. I know I would ignore any such ban as I currently regularly bring peanuts aboard any aircraft I am flying. What’s next? Ban crying kids? Ban passengers with Tourette’s? Ban caffeinated or alcoholic beverages? Who dreams up this ridiculous stuff?

    6/5/2010 15:03

    None of your examples can result in the death of another passenger.

    6/18/2010 06:58

    You disregard the well-being of others less fortunate than you and try to make a virtue of your selfishness.

    8/6/2010 20:11

    King Slav- Your ignorance and selfishness is amazing.

    6/18/2010 06:56

    This slippery slope argument is a false one. Understand that peanut allergy can be life-threatening, leading to anaphylaxis or death. Please visit the websites for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, the Food Allergy Initiative, or the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology for reliable information.

    8/6/2010 20:09

    pixel97-Hopefully, you’ll never find out personally. A server allergy to anything can result in death. And its a death where you suffocate to death within about 10 to 20 minutes. And its hell for the person suffering as well as those around them who are helpless to do anything.

    Banning nuts is not a hard thing to do.

6/3/2010 15:12

I do not have an allergy to peanuts but I do to Carmine coloring. I have to watch what foods I eat and keep an epinephrine pen with me at all times. I believe all people with allergies must follow this same rule. If a person with very severe allergies boards a plane and allerts them ahead of time of their allergy, then keep the peanuts off the flight. This would apply to all kinds of allergies.

6/3/2010 16:02

As a flight attendant of 19+ years, we never had peanut allergies in the earlier days, people dealt with their own issues and got on with it. Where did all these peanut-people come from? It seems like the latest “illness” fad that plagues this country far too often. BTW, no one has seemed to have died due to peanuts on Southwest, why does this have to be a Federal issue?

    6/3/2010 16:44

    My 9 year old daughter is one of the “peanut people” you mentioned in your post. While no one has seemed to have died due to peanuts on Southwest, the threat is there. I feel confident if you had a loved one with this life threatening allergy, you would feel differently.
    My daughter has been tested 4 times for her allergy to peanuts. She is in the highest category of reactivity which means if peanuts are being ingested in her vicnity, she could die. A buffer zone simply doesn’t work in a cinfined space such as an airline. I have to treat her with Benadryl before any flights as a precaution. There are many more food and snack options that don’t have the anaphylaxis potential to innocent human beings. I for one am ecstatic to hear about this initiative. It’s becoming news for a good reason. People- kids- are dying from this and it can be 100% prevented.

    6/15/2010 11:16

    How was your child diagnosed with a peanut allergy? Did they eat penuts while under medical observation and have their blood tested for IgE antibodies? If not, then you don’t know if they have an allergy, or even to what severity.

    As for your claim that she could die if peanuts are ingested in her vicinity, that is utterly false. The only way to have any reaction (including death) is to have contact with the offending allergen. So anyone else can eat all they like in her vicinity; she just has to not come in contact with it.

    Some people die from a severe reaction to peanuts, but not many, and I’ve yet to find a single instance of an airline passenger dying due to anaphylactic shock caused by peanuts.

    6/3/2010 16:45

    I utterly concur. While I am sympathetic to those with this condition, what will we ban next? It is the TOTAL RESPONSIBILITY of the parent/adult to adequately prepare for the possibility of being exposed to an allergen. What if other passengers brought peanuts onboard? What do these people do when they are on a subway? In a taxi? At the mall food court? In a restaurant? Airlines have enough to worry about without all of these over-the-top issues. It’s time for MORE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY and FAR LESS government nannying.

    6/5/2010 02:34

    ricport – “total responsibility” is only possible when you have control. when you have both feet on the ground, you can drop everything and get to emergency services within 20 minutes. “Adequate preparation” = reducing possibility of exposure and carrying epipens just in case – but they only buy you 20minutes or so and limit is 2 without medical supervision. so, small-minded pax eating peanuts at 30,000 feet and unsympathetic crew could = death. and as for nannying, my experience is that government treats people according to the way they’re acting.

    6/5/2010 15:07

    In the examples you give, a person can call 911 and get to a hospital within the 30 minute time-frame that 2 EpiPen doses buy you. On a plane, especially one going overseas, that is not an option.

    6/3/2010 16:59

    The ‘peanut people’ are not taking their business to Southwest. Since your airline continues to serve peanuts, people with severe allergies are flying with other airlines. So I’m sure no one has died because they can’t fly on your planes.

    6/3/2010 17:06

    Oh yeah, it’s fad, everyone wants to be allergic to peanuts. I’m sorry but that was rude! I hope and pray you NEVER EVER have to deal with the anxiety of having a loved one DEATHLY allergic to peanuts (or anything). It is nerve racking day in and day out about the possibility of them going into anaphylatic shock. I think more education needs to be done so more people understand how bad these allergies have gotten and how much they have risen over the years. Maybe then you and others wouldn’t say things like that!

    6/3/2010 20:14

    Thanks to those that have commented on this thread. We know that this can be an emotional topic for all involved.

    Ambersky, you mention education as a means to combat the problem. As airlines currently make a preflight announcement about seat belt use, do you think airlines should also make an announcement about peanut allergies?

    What other steps should airlines take?

    6/4/2010 19:35

    I think more education needs to be made, period, not just in flights. I have had people not understand why I ALWAYS have my son’s epipen on me even when no signs of peanuts are seen. They don’t understand the need to limit exposure best they can, and on a flight it’d be very difficult to limit it. I do think if complete bans aren’t made an announcement would be a good start, but since education on the subject isn’t well known, most passengers just wouldn’t care. I think it’s sad that people do not care that they are risking the life of someone, just so they can have a package of peanuts or peanut butter snack that they could wait til AFTER the flight to have, that won’t kill them, but the peanuts could kill my child or someone deathly allergic. I once compared my son being around peanuts as to someone else eating their snack/lunch with rat poison on the tray/table. Would anyone want to eat or sit with poison right next to them? Well, peanuts are poison to people with allergies to them! The risk is always there regardless of a ban, but with a ban at least it might be less likely to happen. I just saw this video today and I think it helps explain the seriousness of these allergies.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yriX-3UwrCA

    6/17/2010 17:45

    And what makes you think your kid is actually allergic? Did you read a news story about the one person in the history of the world who actually had said allergy and assume YOUR kid must be the other one? Munchasen by Proxy – look it up.

    6/12/2010 04:16

    The problem has increased over the years with the advent of more efficient turbofan engines. It was found that excessive bleed air extraction from the engines (fresh air) consumes more fuel than recirculating the air. Unlike the “coal burners” of the past, modern jets recirculate much more of the air. Yes, they go through filters but it is quite noticeable when those filters need to be changed, airflow decreases dramatically. With airlines scrambling to make money, non safety related items take a back seat and those expensive filters, I believe, are not changed as often. Also, your point about the number of people that died aboard a flight is only part of the question. One should ask how many people reached a critical stage during flight with anaphlaxis necessitating the use of epinephrine from the on board medical kit administered by a physician or nurse on a flight? In other words, how many times was it necessary to intervene or risk the death of a passenger? Airport Crash Fire and Rescue facilities would be a valuable asset for those statistics as they are the ones to meet a flight if a passenger was ill.

    6/17/2010 17:42

    You got that right! The whole anti-peanut movement is the result of hyper-paranoid parents imagining worst case scenarios and thinking that they have the one child in a billion who actually has a problem with the supposed allergen. The only way peanuts are going to hurt you is if you choke on them.

6/3/2010 16:31

I have two children with potentially life threatening allergies to peanuts. Unlike what one person commented, this is not a latest illness fad. The latest research indicates that peanut allergy doubled in children from 1997 to 2002 and that number continues to increase. It is one of the most deadly food allergies.

The presence of nuts on planes is a real fear. While my kids have other potentially deadly food allergies, peanuts pose a unique risk. Nuts break into fine pieces with dust that can become airborne. Peanut butter is sticky and gets wiped on seats and tray tables. Even the slightest microscopic amount of nuts can create an anaphylactic reaction.

Although EpiPens can help, they are not 100% effective and should not be considered a solution to the risk peanuts pose to allergic individuals on planes. Additional steroids, Benadryl shots, oxygen and other medical intervention may be necessary to stop an anaphylactic reaction. EpiPens may need to be administered every 15 to 30 minutes as well. People still die even with intervention.

Please help protect people by offering people the opportunity to get peanut free flights or ban the sale and serving of nut products on the planes.

    6/3/2010 20:00

    Laura, could provide the community the information from which you state that between 1997 and 2002 the number of children with peanut allergies doubled?

    6/4/2010 19:37

    I’m not her, and don’t know if that info would be found on this site, but http://www.foodallergy.org/ is a great source of info on food allergies and anaphylaxis.

    6/5/2010 02:13

    “Food Allergy Among U.S. Children: Trends in Prevalence and Hospitalizations”
    Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db10.htm

    6/13/2010 16:04

    There is no scientific data to support the claim that food allergies have doubled during any time period, much less the one that’s mentioned by Laura. If you read the NCHS Data Brief on the CDC web site, it specifically uses the term “reported food allergy”, which isn’t the same as an actual food allergy.

    Parents report just about any adverse reaction to food as an allergy, but true allergies can only be confirmed by observing the patient after consuming the suspect food and testing for the presence of IgE antibodies. Without that, all you have are overanxious parents conflating two separate and distinct things into the same, potentially life-threatening thing.

    6/14/2010 15:15

    @Elle: thank you for the website.
    @Mulder: thank your for your comment. You seem to draw a distinction between reported food allergies and actual food allergies. Do you have any knowledge of any study or paper that draws out the importance of such a distinction in terms of public policy?

    6/15/2010 09:46

    Sorry, most “studies” don’t draw any distinction between reported allergies and actual, clinically diagnosed allergies, with the possible exception of the language they use. Every one that I’ve read glosses over such distinctions, so you have to read them carefully to see how the “study” data was obtained.

    6/18/2010 07:04

    The prevalence of peanut and tree nut allergies tripled in children in the United States between 1997 and 2008. See http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/0091-6749/PIIS0091674910005750.pdf

    6/18/2010 13:05

    thank your for the link Antanagoge!

6/3/2010 17:36

My child with a severe nut and peanut allergy had a reaction on a domestic flight. Luckily her breathing was not compromised but she broke out in hives across her entire body. I was very very close to using epi-pens on this flight and had all the flight attendants hovering around us.

She only ate the safe food we brought onto the flight – nothing from the airline. I also wiped down our seating area before she boarded. However, she is very touch-sensitive and the seats are hard to clean as they are made of fabric. For the flight home we brought a sheet to cover the seats and she did not react the same way but did get a hive or two none-the-less. Peanut-residue is very hard to remove from fabric surfaces.

I would love to see a ban on having loose peanuts on flights – food like Snickers that contain nuts are ok from my perspective.

6/3/2010 18:28

This goes too far. If you start precedence nor – what else in the future will be banned?

    6/5/2010 02:33

    anything else whose risks of fatal reaction outweigh the mere convenience of the ignorant, I hope.

    6/5/2010 15:10

    Very articulate, dadwith4.

6/3/2010 19:17

No, no, no! If you have an allergy to peanuts and you know you have it then take your own precautions. If I decide to bring a bag of peanuts onboard an airplane and am then told I’m in a “peanut free zone” or something like that, then my rights have been trampled as have the rights of everyone in that zone. Request peanut free services from the airlines for yourself, but do not force those restrictions on the rest of the flying public. I have no problem with the airline offering peanut free foods, etc. but it should be an option that people can select not a requirement for everyone else to abide by.
What’s next? Can I have all perfume banned from an airplane or have people wearing them banned? How about deodorants, hair sprays, any product with latex in it?
It is not a “right” if you have to impose that behavior on others for yourself.

    6/4/2010 02:29

    What about my child’s “right” not to die?

    6/4/2010 19:45

    I agree with chartley81. My child has a right to live. What about the fact that other things have been banned on airlines-weapons, the amount of shampoo a person can bring on board, etc. I think you can survive not eating peanuts for a few hours, but my son may not survive the flight if you decide to touch the armrest with a peanut oil covered hand and then he touches it. yes there are always risks but banning it lessens that risk to an extent.

    6/15/2010 16:17

    Where is your “right” to fly? Or where is your “right” to limit my choices? The shampoo ban is supposed to be to prevent liquid explosives from being brought onboard, not to prevent exposure to some allergic to it. Sure I can “survive” without eating peanuts, but you know what, you can also survive without flying wherever it is you are going, why is it what you can survive is more important than what I can survive without? What makes you more important than the 98% of the population that is not allergic to peanut products?

    6/15/2010 16:13

    You have a responsibility to keep your child safe. You don’t let them play in traffic but we don’t ban cars. This is no different. It is YOUR responsibility, it is not the airline’s or the government’s job to keep everything away from people that can hurt them because you know what? Whatever you pick, someone out there has a SEVERE allergy to it that can kill them.

    6/18/2010 16:00

    Pretty sure your kid will be fine. If not, DON’T FLY!!!

    6/5/2010 15:17

    I think the problem, as seen with JJM, is that some people don’t view peanuts in the same category as guns and cigarettes. These things kill. Just because they (peanuts) won’t kill YOU doesn’t make it your right to expose others to it. It’s a matter of education. We’ll get there. This dialogue is a good step.

    6/15/2010 16:21

    I don’t support banning guns or cigarettes either. Those are choices people make (to buy a gun or smoke) and that is what I support and what I propose…choice. If you think a ride is dangerous for your child you don’t let them ride it. Is it their “right” to be have the ride toned down for them or is it the right or every citizen to make a choice on what risk they accept and what they will not? This, like many other regulations is simply taking that choice and handing it over to the government and forcing their decision on everyone. Just because peanuts MAY kill someone doesn’t mean everyone else should have no choice in eating them.

    6/18/2010 16:01

    Unless you choke on them, these things (peanuts) WILL NOT kill anyone. Go to a real doctor and get tested – he will tell you peanuts are harmless.

    6/18/2010 15:59

    You are right on sir! Most of these supposed allergies are the paranoid imaginings of over anxious parents. The rest of the public should not be forced to accommodate them. A hive or two is not going to kill little jimmy, and the previous poster “shoeslut” should have her head examined for panicking like that. She is causing more harm to her child by being such a paranoid freak than any peanut ever will.

6/3/2010 19:50

As an air traveler and peanut-allergy sufferer, I appreciate the considerations.
I flew in February and March (Delta and US Airways) Because of the severity of my life-long allergy, both times I hoped that the passengers I sat near would choose pretzels instead of peanuts.
What would be helpful to a passenger such as myself, would be banning the service only when a passenger requests it ahead of time or requiring a peanut-free buffer zone. It seems that other passengers would be less disturbed if other (non-peanut and non-peanut oil) snack options were provided on flights where a person has a medically-documented severe allergy, instead of relegating some people to sit in a peanut-free buffer zone.
It can be very likely that a passenger with a severe allergy would need an epinephrine auto-injector.
As for Pixel’s comments: Often the allergic actions do not warrant the news media. Most of the time it happens to me, I’m focused on staying alive.
I can only speak from my own reactions: Yes, I can get that sick from the air particles in an airplane. While I may prepare myself for being stuck in an airplane with peanuts, it would be nice to trust that my fellow passengers don’t mind eating pretzels in exchange for me not having to seek medical attention.
Thank you.

6/3/2010 19:59

There is a non-profit organization called the food allergy network their web site is foodallergy.org. This site will give you some insight into the peanut allergy issue. My son now ten years old has a very severe peanut allergy. Some of the things most kids take for granted are not available to him due to the allergy. He cannot go to a professional baseball game for one. We also have to plan our vacations the locations that peanut free airlines to. The common misconception is “just don’t eat peanuts!” It would be nice if it were that simple. The confined space and recycling of the air in a plane is a peanut allergy sufferers nightmare. When people eat peanuts or open up bags of preanuts some of the allergens are released into the air. Therefore the allergic person can be affected without physically eating the peanuts. The air becomes toxic to them. For my son this is a not just discomfort it could kill him. JJ

    6/13/2010 16:15

    There’s no truth to what you say about recycled air on planes. Contrary to your belief, fresh air is circulated in the cabin from the engine compressors, air conditioned (cooled), circulated through louvers, vents and those eyeball graspers above your seat. After that, about half is sucked out through the bottom of the fuselage; the remainder is run through filters to remove pollutants and particulants and mixed with fresh air again.

    The result is that the air in the cabin is cleaner than most public buildings, and it is completely exchanged every 2-3 minutes.

    6/14/2010 15:33

    I found this particular article to be interesting: http://www.justnews.com/travelgetaways/23871727/detail.html

    6/18/2010 03:53

    Still, a safe threshold has not been established.

    Anyway, how does this technique work at 35,000 feet in the air?

6/3/2010 21:03

Peanut dust can trigger allergic reactions.

6/3/2010 22:38

As someone who carries an epipen for beestings, I understand that allergies can be serious and life threatening.

Banning airlines from serving peanuts inflight seems reasonable; several posts mention the risk inherent in many people opening bags of peanuts at one time (which can easily happen when snacks are served) throwing a large amount of dust in the air, which could be enough to trigger an allergy in severely allergic people.

However, banning people from carrying on their own snacks does seem to violate their rights, to eliminate what seems like an extremely small risk to allergy-sufferers. Nuts are a healthy, portable form of protein, and cannot be replaced by pretzels. No, being hungry or not eating protein won’t kill someone; but, I’m a vegetarian, and I fly constantly, often on long-haul international flights, but mainly between the east and west coasts, to help care for my mother who is dying of cancer. The return flight is 6 ½ hours (plus commute time to the airport); when time allows, I make something to bring on the flight, but if my mother is having a bad day, that’s not always possible. On a recent trip, I didn’t have time to eat anything at all the day I flew home; got stuck in traffic and barely made my flight (I was the last one on) so didn’t have time to eat or buy anything at the airport; and as we started to taxi, the flight crew announced that we had a nut allergy on board, and that they (JB) would not be serving cashews and requested that we not eat any nuts we may have brought on board. 6 ½ hours feels pretty long at that point! No, it didn’t kill me, but it does seem that if JB hadn’t served cashews, the risks involved in one or two people eating nuts they may have brought with them would have been extremely, extremely small….and, NOTHING in life is risk-free. I understand that people want to minimize the risks for their loved ones, but you cannot eliminate the risk completely, regardless of what legislation you put in place. If I ate peanuts at the airport, didn’t wash my hands, and then opened the rest room door on the plane immediately before a peanut allergy sufferer, that person could suffer a reaction.

I can support airlines not serving peanuts/peanut products, thereby eliminating the most likely possible cause of a peanut-related incident on a flight; but not restrictions on what people may choose to eat.

    6/4/2010 19:52

    I agree that telling people they can’t bring it on board is a bit much, but I definitely thing airlines themselves not offering it is a great step (that limits the amount likely to be on board). Also making an announcement that someone actually IS allergic on board and to please try to refrain from opening/eating any nut products during the flight would be nice. I do think this could lessen the risk a great deal.

    My son’s allergist told us not to bother with a “peanut free” table for him at lunch at school, it gives a false sense of security, but also not to let him sit RIGHT next to someone eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So for a lot of people, the airlines not serving it would probably do a lot for them.

    6/5/2010 15:21

    A peanut-free table is less likely to have smears of peanut butter on/under it. Risk of exposure is reduced which is not as good as eliminated but is better than full exposure. I see the parallel with these flight proposals. Ban peanut products. Yes, people will “sneak” them. However, the risk will still be reduced over the nothing that we are doing now.

6/3/2010 22:50

As an adult with a severe tree nut allergy, I certainly empathize with the folks with peanut allergies. That said, it seems arbitrary to ban peanuts and not tree nuts given the likelihood of a serious reaction is fairly similar. If the airlines could have precautions in place, such as keeping an epipen available or offering surgical masks to those who need then, that would be a positive step. However, supplying those items really should be the responsibility of the person with the allergy or, if it is a child, the caretaker. Further, the logistics of implementing such a ban would be almost impossible. Are we looking at searching passenger luggage, banning the sale of all foods with peanuts (and since most carry the “made in a facility that also handles”, you’d be looking at eliminating almost all foods) and regulating all restaurants at airports as well? Unfortunately, personal responsibility and proactive steps on the part of the person with the allergy is likely the only viable solution.

    6/3/2010 23:06

    Welcome, Hgranato. You raise a unique point. Is regulating peanuts in this manner arbitrary? What do other commenters think?

    6/5/2010 03:04

    it’s a question of degree to which the allergic traveler (or parent) can reasonably manage the risks. When in the terminal (or any other public space on the ground), exposure can be managed/avoided and if anything happnes, emergency services are a 911 call away and the ambulance can get you to a hospital before the epipen(s) wear off. When in an aircraft, the traveler is confined and if anything happens, the epipens still buy you 20 minutes but you’re no closer to a hospital.

    6/18/2010 16:03

    Finally the voice of reason. While I still dispute whether your reaction will be as severe as you believe, at least you realize that it is your responsibility to take precautions. Your ailment is not shared by the general population, and should not be an excuse to infringe upon the rights of others.

6/4/2010 00:12

It would be difficult to justify only addressing peanut allergies and ignore other conditions that threaten the health and well being of passengers. The affected person should bear the responsibility to know their own condition and to properly prepare for managing it. Airlines should be expected to accommodate special diet requests which are made with adequate prior notice. In the case of passengers who are not able to manage their own situations, written disclosures to flight personnel should enable flight personnel to institute an appropriate response.

    6/5/2010 15:28

    I’ve registered my son on a flight as peanut-allergic and had the attendant try to hand him a bag of peanuts. Flight personnel need more education on this.

    6/5/2010 15:51

    This raises an interesting point that has been mentioned here by other commentators: even with prior notice, flight personnel often overlook those passengers with peanut allergies. Besides better training, what else could be done to make flight personnel more aware of the issue as they balance their other duties? Should notices of keeping “buffer zones” or “no peanut zones” free of peanuts be included in the routine safety announcements? Should personnel be required to check off a list of self-designated passengers with peanut allergies and make note of where they sit before in-flight service?

6/4/2010 00:14

I have two children with severe peanut allergies, and as it turns out I myself also suffer from peanut allergies. I didn’t know why I was getting sick for so many years without reason.
We have had several unfortunate situations while traveling
1) my then 4 year old son having an anaphylactic shock on an overseas flight although we did avoid nuts and peanuts but another passenger consumed a product labeled “may contain peanuts” next to us.
2) I have myself been severely sick on an overseas flight from US to Europe – vomiting on the entire flight due to peanut exposure in the lounge.
3) We have several times had issues with airlines not caring about the allergies. One Continental Flight attendant once insisted on that it was a rule that she had to serve peanuts to us and everyone around us – even though we had informed them before hand that we had peanut allergies. I believe Continental since has stopped serving peanuts, but it was very unpleasant and we had to give Benadryl to our then 2 year old as he started wheezing – it was not until he was wheezing that the flight attendant was kind enough to inform the Captain and take back the peanuts!
4) the peanut buffer zones just don’t work. I don’t know how many times we have notified the airlines and yet not once have been allowed pre-boarding to wipe down the area, been condenscended at the gate or by the stewardesses – this is no matter if we fly First or Economy. They still seat people with their own food next to us and they refuse helping us by asking these people not to eat peanut products – to the extend that we even experienced on AA last year that a lady sat next to us and insisted on eating her pbj sandwiches in spite that we were 3 people with peanut allergies next to her. She didn’t care and the stewardess didn’t care. When we asked her to help us she wouldn’t let us reseat somewhere else, she wouldn’t ask the lady to eat something else (even though we offered to buy her anything) and she wouldn’t ask the woman to move. She was rude and yelled that it was our problem and if our kids are so allergic we shouldn’t bring them into public. Her colleague said that people with peanut allergies should hire a private jet (yet it is not all of us that would ever be able to travel if we have to do this). Our oldest boy ended up getting sick and it wasn’t until then that the one of the stewardesses apologized but they still refused doing anything. They wouldn’t even notify the captain of the anaphylactic shock because then everyone would get delayed…..(and the stewardess said the flight was delayed enough as is. So she chose to risk our sons life. This happened on Aug 22, 2009 with AA from DFW to EWR.
5) The biggest problem is truly that so many people doesn’t understand how serious and dangerous peanut exposure can be to a person with peanut allergies. Even people who understands it behaves irradic when it comes to treating people with peanut allergies decently. On a overseas flight we overheard the steward telling his colleagues that “I wonder how serious the boys (meaning our son) allergies are – what would happen if we just crushed up some peanuts and put them in his food?”. We did complain and the airline did apologize but it still shows how people not caring are the biggest threat. The easiest way to ensure everyones safety (also the people without allergies) is really just to ban peanuts and peanut products on flights. It is not that anyone will die having to go without for a flight but some people may die or get seriously sick if they are not. I recall the time when passengers were allowed to smoke on the flights – this is not allowed any longer for safety. Although no one will die immediately from second hand smoke – but a fire may happen. Also, if there is an anaphylactic shock from peanut exposure then the entire plane may have to emergency land, causing possible danger to all passengers – shouldn’t that be the main consideration?
Also, how many people like me actually walks around with a latent unknown peanut allergy? My parents never thought to get me tested and I just didn’t know what made me so sick at times. I only learned when my children was sick and then got tested.
I learned that peanut allergies among children have tripled over the past 10 years. How many serious sick children or incidences does DOT need in order to ensure the safety of all these children?
So please either ban peanuts and peanut products or at least ban service of peanuts and peanut products on flights where the airlines know there is a passenger with a peanut allergy. This is the only way to ensure everyones safety, not to mention comfort.

    6/18/2010 16:06

    Your vomiting was not an allergic reaction – you were probably airsick. Allergies are not genetic, so it is pretty much impossible that you and two of your offspring suffer from them. This is clearly a case of you getting some bad information and believing the worst. Please let your kids get tested out by a real doctor (not an allergist), before you deprive them of any more of the enjoyable things in life.

    6/25/2010 00:08

    Actually, Howie, vomiting IS a part of an allergic reaction. Allergies also do tend to run in families although not necessarily of the same variety. Kids with allergies tend to get tested by lots of people during the course of their lives doctors and allergist alike. Food challenges (most reliable), skin prick tests (reliable), and blood test (least reliable) are the top three methods of determining true allergies. Living in a world surrounded by lack of awareness tends to deprive them of enjoyable things in life far more then avoiding the offending food.

6/4/2010 01:10

Do NOT in any way regulate the service of peanuts on airlines. This is a ridiculous intrusion on free enterprise and personal freedom. Not to mention, it will simply encourage freedom loving travelers to bring large amounts of peanuts on the aircraft themselves. Someone should stuff a bag of peanuts up the backside of Ray LaHood for proposing this stupid proposal.

    6/4/2010 21:24

    I’m a freedom-loving, peanut-friendly traveler, and I have no problem with the government protecting other people from dangerous activity. That’s the government’s job.

6/4/2010 02:12

I would like to thank the DOT for soliciting input – I think opening the floor for public comment is helpful on so many levels. Those of us dealing with food allergy issues on a day-to-day basis feel that the opportunity to have our voices heard is exactly what we would wish for. Those in the public who do not or have not lived with this issue can see a variety of viewpoints and develop an informed opinion. I believe that our cultural expectations need to be re-assesed when considering food allergy issues. 1.) Food is sustenance 2.)We associate events/environments with food (why peanuts when we fly?) 3.)We hold onto traditions rather strongly until forced to evaluate the extent to which they are truly meaningful and necessary.(If I eat this food, I may seriously jeopardize someone’s well-being. Do I need to eat this, or can I choose something else?)
I believe that good faith is being shown in evaluating the peanut allergy issue, but as so many before me have clearly illustrated, not just peanuts cause life-threatening reactions. I strongly encourage you to contact and work in tandem with the Food Allergy and Anaphlyaxis Network, http://www.foodallergy.org. They have worked tirelessly to serve as a clearinghouse of information on these very issues.
I believe that people generally care about the well-being of others, and when informed, make informed choices.

    6/5/2010 23:20

    Well said. I fly extensively in the US and internationally. And, in reading all the comments posted thus far, for the most part, there appears to be a lot of emotion and not a lot of facts surrounding this issue.
    The airlines should not be banning any food and they certainly should not be come the food police.
    I strongly urge the DOT to get more scientic-based information. Any disability needs to be treated with sensitivity. However, i want to point out that when we installed ramps for those in a wheel chairs, we did not remove the stairs.
    Some facts to consider. studies show that you cannot have a serious/deadly reaction to peanut, tree nut, or other food allergy protein by smelling it; despite what some of the contributors here have said. Less than 1% of the population has a peanut allergy and not all of those are “severly” allergic. (Compare that with the exponentially higher incidence of diabetes–diabetics need plant based proteins like peanuts during flights to keep their blood sugar levels under control.) or, a milk allergy which is far more prevelent.
    Airborne exposure will not affect the body systemically, so therefore cannot cause anaphylaxis. If extremely allergic, you may have some symptoms like sneezing, running nose and coughing. For those peanut or tree nut allergic, and for all food allergies, you MUST ingest the food protein to have a systemtic reaction. And, even with direct skin contact to tree nuts, peanuts or peanut and nut butters, most allergic people will not show signs of a reaction, or it so it will be a localized minor one such as hives, or a welt.
    You can, however, have a psyhcosomatic reaction to anything you are afraid of. Peanut allergy has become an exaggerated fear to the detriment of those who suffer from other food allergies and other serious and chronic diseases.
    A few Facts: more than 3,000 kids die from asthma each year; 10,000 kids go to the hospital each year with brain injuries due to sports; 45,000 kids die in car accidents. Last time i saw a statisic on food allergy fatalities it was aobut 100 to 150 over a five year period for all foods. This is not to say that peanut and tree nut allergies, or any allergy is not serious. They are.
    But I wonder if these same parents who are demandting that peanuts and tree nuts be banned from everywhere are asking for sports be eliminated from school programs, or if their children are being kept out of sports. or, have they given up driving their children in a car; or, will they get their son or daughter a drivers license at age 16.
    i have a friend whose child almost died twice from a serious allergy to milk because people think milk allergy can’t be fatal; they confuse milk allergy with lactose intolerance because the hysteria created by some about peanut has drowned out any sense of reason and overshadowed everyone else’s issues. A recent widely publicized study showed that far more people think they have food allergies than actually do. Again, i am not minimizing those who do, but a food allergy needs to be diagnosed by a certified immunologist who conducts a food challenge. Then and only then does a patient really know what they are allergic to. and, a food allergy is very different than a food sensitivity. Many people have multiple food allergies, but once properly diagnosed that person needs to be taught to care for themselves and take all necessary precautions.
    Also, I read in the news is that patients with egg and food allergy have now been de-sensitized in clinical settings with guess what? egg and peanut! so, let’s rid ourselves of the hysteria. let’s stop our demanding and outrageousness and let’s call for ome common sense. i fear for these children that are being raised by parents to live in fear of the “bogey man”. instead of teaching them to handle whatever afflication they have in a responsible and calm manner–whether it’s severe asthma, other food allergies, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and the hundreds of other afflications that so many of us live with everyday.
    I myself have a food allergy so i truly understand what it takes to be vigliant; it isn’t easy.
    in all my years of flying and with all the different carriers i have been on, i find that whether in the US or abroad, without legislation, they try to be as accommodating as possible when people plan ahead and are not behaving rudely.
    we have more than enough regulation and every time a new regulation comes along it always carries unintended consequences. so, once you ban peanuts and tree nuts, will you prohibit seeing eye dogs on flights for those of us who are severly allergic? Remember, you can die from an asthma attack caused by a reaction to an animal. or, will you have a voice of reason and talk with the carrier, check on your medications, where a highly refined mask and take the right precautions.
    My own near fatal experience to a different allergy reinforced for me that if you demand the world conform to you, you will become lax making it more likely you will have an accidenta encounter. we need to be prepared and proactive, not create a bubble around ourselves and our children.

    6/5/2010 23:35

    Thank you for your comment. Do you have links to any of the studies you cite?

    6/22/2010 21:42

    I would love the links to those studies also. I unfortunately have seen my daughter have an allergic reaction to inhalation of peanut dust twice-once on an airplane and once in a restaurant we entered before we were aware of the peanut shells all over the floor. Her face swelled and her eyes completely swelled shut-something I would label as a serious reaction. She was too young for it to be from stress. I don’t have any studies to back it up – just what I witnessed. I don’t think the DOT should monitor what each person brings onto the flight – there is a big difference if 150 people open up peanut packs verses 5-10 people bringing on their own snacks. If you have the allergy you do need to be prepared with medications and clean your area with wipes or cover your seat.

6/4/2010 02:20

What a lot of people don’t realize is that peanut allergies actually worsen as a person ages. I have had a fatal peanut allergy all my life, and at age 28, I found my throat swelling from the smell of peanut products. Also, EpiPens are great, but they DO NOT stop the reaction to all people. I carry two injections with me all the time, and those injections buy me an hour to get to a hospital for further treatment. Without a hospital and immediate follow-up care, I would continue in a reaction. TO CONGRESS: YES, it can happen, it does happen, it will continue to happen, and as I AM AFRAID TO FLY FOR THIS VERY REASON, I urge you to do something! You cannot count on EpiPens to do everything! I vote for banning all peanut products AND making an announcement, asking passengers to refrain from eating any peanut products they may have brought on board, if a passenger informs the airline about his/her allergy.

    6/18/2010 16:08

    first off, you do not have a ‘fatal’ peanut allergy – you are still alive. MAYBE you have a ‘potentially fatal’ allergy – extremely unlikely, but possible. Your only viable solution – DON’T FLY.

6/4/2010 02:52

There must be a complete ban on tree nuts and peanuts on planes. It is a closed space. I am allergic to peanuts and almonds and I am impacted every time I fly. A nut free zone does not work since the dust from nuts gets in the closed air system of the plane. For the time that people are on planes there should be consideration of others who have no control as to the reactions they have to nuts. For almost all other foods the allergy only occurs if the food is ingested so you can easily avoid the allergic reaction but not eating the food. This is not true for many of us with nut allergies – we react if other people are eating the food since it is an airborne allergy. I do fly but I have to take multiple Benadryl pills every 4 hours to keep from reacting to the airborne dust of the nuts. This works for now but I always wonder when it will no longer be enough. An epipen is not the answer as it lasts only look enough for the plane to land which is not a practical solution when you are flying on a long flight over water and would certainly be a much greater inconvenience to the other passengers than a ban on nut products on planes if the plane was able to land. The rules airlines have are ridiculous – Southwest is not nut free they will not serve nuts but if you fly a late flight the peanuts are all over the floor and seats. Some other airlines have the rows around you ‘nut free’ but advise you they can do nothing if the person seated next to you brings nuts on and wants to eat them. Other airlines with advance notice will not serve nuts but all airlines allow passengers to bring on foods including nuts and will not stop the person from eating them if they wish to. So you can have a ‘nut free’ flight and the person sitting next to you can take out their package of peanuts and eat away – and the airlines will do nothing to help you. Again all nuts should be banned from airplanes unless it is your own private plane – then go ahead and eat what you want.

    6/4/2010 03:28

    Thanks, all, for such a spirited discussion. To those who have have experienced flight with severe peanut allergies, would having a “no nut” section of the plane comprising multiple rows help? Some commenters have drawn analogies to no-smoking sections in restaurants — would this be a viable compromise?

    6/4/2010 13:51

    Moderator, why are you not asking those in support of this where their responsibility comes into play . . .?

    6/4/2010 19:44

    I think they all use their responsibility by continuing to take the medications needed in a reaction, but as others have said epinephrine only lasts 15-20 minutes, then the person needs other medical intervention.

    6/5/2010 03:10

    ricport, everyone is responsible for themselves AND their effects on others. ever hear of involuntary manslaughter?

    6/5/2010 15:31

    ricport: I don’t see the supporters shirking responsibility. I see them saying that even when they do everything they can, it’s not enough to stay alive. Not when on a flight without hospital access. Please be specific in areas that you are seeing within this discussion that show lack of responsibility on behalf of supporters.

    8/5/2010 09:59

    elizwestly – Actually I read a lot about dying here but can anyone provide a single statistic of how many people have died from peanut allergies onboard an airplane? How about how many people die from peanut allergies in the US each year? I know that the “estimates” are that .6 to 1.5% of the US population may be allergic to peanuts. And I found the following in a story “In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control cited just 14 deaths due to anaphylaxis. The only known registry of deaths from anaphylaxis noted 33 deaths between 1994 and 1999. Remember, all of these estimates refer to the total number of people who had an anaphylactic reaction for any reason, not just from peanuts or other foods.” but I have yet to find anything I can pin down that says how many people REALLY die from a peanut allergy each year.
    To me it seems pretty obvious that people with peanut allergies do fly (as many here have stated they do) and yet as far as I can tell no one has died. So, why are we even discussing banning peanuts when they have not killed a single person on an airplane?

    8/5/2010 09:49

    dberger – Once again we see the attitude of everyone must change for a few, a very few. This allergy is yours and yours to deal with, why in the world do you expect all of the rest of us to change anything in our own lifestyles to accommodate you? As it is, you have a solution, you take Benadryl when you fly. Great. Other people need to take other medication to fly as well to deal with their own issues/problems also which they have no control over. Should we therefore make exceptions for all of them as well? I say no. There are steps you can personally take to deal with your own allergy but instead you insist that everyone else take steps so that you don’t have to. Sorry, I’m not accepting that.

6/4/2010 03:20

I have sympathy for those with peanut allergies, but banning peanuts from flights via a DOT regulation seems to go too far. Perhaps advocacy groups for those who are peanut-allergic will approach the major carriers to voluntarily set aside seating blocks that are reserved for allergy sufferers, and non-sufferers who are willing to agree not to eat peanuts while sitting in that particular block. As someone who suffers from a medical condition which requires me to carry my “rescue” medication with me everywhere I go, I think that if the risk to an allergy sufferer is deemed to be significant, then they should (a) consider alternate travel methods other than flying, (b) ensure they have sufficient “rescue” medication to last the entire time they might be stuck in an aircraft, and (c) they should wear appropriate clothing / face masks to minimize exposed skin and inhalation risk. Requiring other passengers to forgo their “right” to eat peanuts so as to accommodate the “right” of allergy sufferers to fly seems a bit much, particularly if the allergy sufferers don’t fly often, anyway.

    6/5/2010 03:17

    FrequentFlyer, though I appreciate your attempt at proposed solutions, I cannot support them. (A) we live in a remote area and air travel is the only option to go anywhere interesting. (B) “resue” medication only lasts 10-20 minutes, and you can only give two doses without medical supervision, and (C) we already take very careful measures to minimize the possibility of exposure. I fail to see why eating peanuts in particular is seen sa a “right”

    6/5/2010 15:32

    Eating peanuts is as much a “right” as packing a gun or smoking a cigarette.

    8/5/2010 10:00

    I fail to see why it is a “right” to fly so you can go somewhere “interesting”.

6/4/2010 16:22

I had no idea that peanut allergies can be so severe that proximity was enough to trigger a reaction.

While I sympathize with the situation, the nature of the industry defies an easy fix. With the advent of “food-for-purchase” on airplanes, more and more passengers bring their own food. Not serving peanut products won’t completely protect those who are violently allergic because of what other passengers bring on board.

The only way I can see to ban peanuts altogether is a TSA regulation to ban it on top of an airline ban for their food service. This increases costs of screening and imposes new regulations on all passengers and, in turn, increases the cost of airline tickets, not to mention slowing the TSA screening lines due to increased security to check food products.

I wish I had a creative solution to the problem. But, finding a practical solution will be much harder than may first appear.

6/5/2010 03:40

steps airlines should take: 1. cease offering peanut products immediately (may contains is fine, as long as labeled accordingly). 2. educate flight crew about the dangers and precautions, including immediate emergency landing even if reaction seems under control (epinephrine does NOT equal antidote – i’ve watched my son rebound with epi and crash again as it wore off, several times). 3. require pax to carry two (better three) doses of epi, and allow them to pre-board to re-clean. 4. inform all pax when an anaphylactic traveler is on board and to kindly refrain from eating crumbly, oily or gooey peanut products, hand out extra towelettes to ALL pax and encourage use before using common areas, and relocate adjacent obstinant pax if wilfully disregarding the safety of the allergic traveller.

Allergic travelers should have two (even three) auto-injectors. The airline should also have one or two auto-injectors in every first aid kit.

Food items prohibited for offer or sale onboard should include any dusty, crumbly, oily or gooey products in which peanuts is an ingredient, as those are the most likely to be transferred/accidentally ingested in sufficient quantities to cause a reaction. When informed, all pax should be reminded to refrain from eating such products throughout the flight, and to practice extra care and handwashing if they choose to eat them anyway.

That would go a long way to easing my weeks of anxiety before every flight with my anaphylactic son, when air travel is our only option.

6/5/2010 04:50

Interesting proposal, what does everyone else think about the flight crew having access to epi-pens?

    6/5/2010 11:22

    Although we always travel with epi-pens in case our fiver-year-old peanut & tree nut allergic child needs them, I think having some on board is a good idea, as long as crew are trained in the proper usage. Moreover, I think the crew need training on how to respectfully treat people with allergies or disabilities.

    Since our son was diagnosed with the allergy one year ago, we have travelled several times on multiple carriers and have found the foreign carriers to be far less worrisome for those with nut allergies. In fact, none of the foreign carriers we used during that time even served nuts in economy. Our only trouble came with Delta. On flights to and from Atlanta to El Salvador, I requested a nut-free buffer zone as listed as an option on the Delta website. This request was not observed on either flight, and I when mentioned it to the cabin crew on one segment, they began taking back the nuts from the passengers around us, pointing out that they couldn’t have it because “that little boy is allergic.” This made us very uncomfortable, but at least the other passengers were polite about it.

    I find it amazing that people get so incensed about “their rights” to have nuts being infringed upon. I have a feeling that these are the same people who would be the first to complain when a plane has to make an emergency landing when a nut-allergic passenger goes into anaphylaxis.

    8/5/2010 10:02

    You are partly right. I would be upset if we had to make an emergency landing because someone did not take the proper precautions when they have a serious allergy and thus caused a hundred plus other people to have a major delay.

6/6/2010 01:29

My daughter is allergic to peanut and tree nut. The problem with this allergy, is that anaphylaxis can occur from ANY contact with peanut. This includes airborne inhalation, cross contamination with other foods, or contact with residue left from previous and nearby passengers. It is not simply a matter of “don’t eat it.” It is well-known that Epipens address anaphylaxis on a SHORT TERM basis. The effects of the Epipen last for 15 or 20 minutes, but if the medication wears off, the individual can resume their life-threatening reaction. On the ground, after the use of an Epipen, you are supposed to go immediately to the emergency room because you may need further treatment to save your life. In the air, you don’t have that option. I believe the current diagnosis rate of peanut allergy is almost 1 in 100 children. That is a HUGE percentage of the population that is at risk by flying in an airplane. I choose not to fly because of the risk to my daughter, but it would be wonderful to be able to travel like everyone else again. I fully support this ban on any product that contains peanut.

    6/6/2010 01:56

    Thank you for your comment, cmvs33. Aside from banning airlines from serving peanuts on flights, what other steps do you think the DOT could take to make flying safe for people with peanut & tree nut allergies?

    6/13/2010 17:21

    You simply have no idea what you’re talking about. There is no “diagnosis rate” of peanut allergies; there is a common, misguided belief that peanut allergies are rising and that any reaction to any food is an allergy. Unfortunately for you, you actually need to be observed and tested by a licensed, certified doctor for the presence of IgE antibodies to determine if you really have an allergy.

    Furthermore, if you really think that 1 in 100 having a true allergy to peanuts is huge, you’re daft. That would be 1%, which is 3.3 million people in the U.S.—not a huge number at all. Far more people (most people, in fact) are allergic to one or more types of dust, but you aren’t proposing that the FAA should ban dust, since that’s not possible without shutting down air travel altogether.

    Maybe we should just ban people with peanut allergies from flying; that would certainly solve your problem.

    6/18/2010 04:12

    Why does Mulder make the unwarranted assumption that people posting here have not been evaluated by an allergist?

6/6/2010 23:58

I have been lethally allergic to peanuts all my life, and while I always carry multiple Epi-pens, I only forty minutes to get to a hospital after using them. I personally would like to see a ban on peanuts and enforcing passengers to refrain from bringing banned items on board. But as another person pointed out, a lot of people are severely allergic to perfumes. I think the DOT should ask allergists the most common causes of allergic anaphylaxis, and include those in the ban. After all, no one NEEDS to wear perfumes or eat nuts. Another option I support is having no food or snacks on domestic flights. I think we should consider actual needs (such as water) on flights, instead of what people prefer.

    8/5/2010 10:07

    I always like it when someone talks about everyone else’s “need” not being important when their own “need” is involved. What about your responsibility to protect yourself? While you can argue someone doesn’t have a “right” to wear perfume I would counter that you have no more “right” to fly. Is it much more convenient than driving or taking a train? Sure, but it is not a right plain and simple. So, stop trying to determine what everyone else “needs” they should be allowed to fulfill and do your own due diligence to protect yourself with filter masks, alternate travel, or whatever.

jmb
6/7/2010 11:00

As the father of a three year old daughter who was recently diagnosed with a life-threatening peanut allergy, I fully support a ban on peanuts and food containing peanuts. While my daughter does not have an inhalation allergy, she is extremely sensitive and if she ingested even a minute particle of peanut protein, she could have a life threatening reaction. While we have epi pens and benadryl to administer in the event of such an event, those medications are only a short term response and immediate medical care is essential. As a parent, it is my job to insure she does not ingest anything that will cause a reaction and we do everything we can to create a large buffer between her and such products. That said, we have little control over the environment in an airplane. Others eating peanuts nearby or even someone having eaten a peanut on an earlier flight could create a very real problem. While we can do everything possible to clean the area in which we sit and diligently parent her while on the flight, the risk is significant. Moreover, with the number of children diagnosed with peanut allergies having tripled between 1997 and 2007 (see recent Mount Sinai study) this threat is neither extremely limited nor decreasing.
The simple fact is that a peanut allergy is life threatening and should not be compared to other intolerances or allergies that are not. Doing so is naive and bordering on ignorant. Balancing both the seriousness and scope of the threat involved against what could only be described as a petty inconvenince associated with banning peanuts and peanut products, the choice seems clear. That is, unless the peanut lobby or ill-informed airline passengers are making decisions in Washington.
I commend the DOT for being on top of this issue and urge the adoption of a final rule banning peanuts and peanut products from airplans.

    6/7/2010 12:00

    Thank you for your comment, jmb. In case other contributors are interested, a press release summing up the Mt. Sinai study mentioned here is available at http://www.mountsinaifpa.org/about-us/news-archive/rate-of-childhood-peanut-allergies-more-than-tripled-between-1997-and-2008.

    8/5/2010 10:09

    A telephone survey? How many of these children were actually tested to discover if they really did have an allergy vice how many are “assumed” to be allergic from parental observation?

    6/13/2010 17:30

    That Mount Sinai “study” is completely bogus and inherently flawed. It was done via telephone survey, which is unreliable and unscientific, as it requires people to recall things from imperfect memories. At the same time, these are people who “report” an allergy; there is no clinical diagnosis of an allergy based on observation and blood tests for IgE antibodies after eating peanuts, which is the only way it can be confirmed.
    Scientific data shows no doubling or tripling in peanut allergies during any period of time. People who preach this nonsense and those who buy into it as fact are hurting themselves and spreading needless fear.

    6/18/2010 16:11

    Absolutely correct. Allergies are largely the realm of the hypochondriac. Get a real doctor to diagnose this – not an ‘allergist’ as they have an agenda to promote. These peanut people are just a new kind of PC nazi. If you really have a problem, DON’T FLY!

Vec
6/8/2010 01:02

While I realize that peanut allergies can be severe, what about those of us with other allergies? I’m allergic to pet dander and unfortunately every major airline now allows animals in the cabin – while I understand the necessity of service animals, I’ve also seen animals snuck aboard or allowed out of our cages. I’m also allergic to large amounts of perfume or scent – I’ve broken out in hives after one occasion and had no real recourse.

    kas
    6/8/2010 01:52

    I agree with you Vec. I am severely allergic to cats which leads to many of the same symptoms that people with peanut allergies have (tightness in the chest, the feeling of their throat closing) for me these symptoms are made more severe because I also have asthma, which kicks in when I am around cats – airway constriction, uncontrollable coughing etc.

    From reading some of the post I understand that the argument has been made that peanuts should be banned because people can die of a peanut allergy. I also believe that animals should also be banned then because people who are allergic and or have asthma could also die if they are on an extended flight with an animal they are allergic to.

    According to the CDC the number of Asthma related deaths was 3,616 in 2006. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/asthma.htm

    6/8/2010 01:57

    Welcome to regulation room kas and thanks for the informative first post. You have provided the community with some interesting information.

    Kas, where do you fall on the peanut issue? Do you think that it should be banned or only banned if animals are banned? Or something else?

    What do others think about this information about asthma-related deaths? What effect should this have on the proposed peanut rule?

6/8/2010 02:58

Here are my thoughts on the three Proposed Solutions:

Allowing peanuts/nuts but instituting a “buffer zone”

— Although perhaps an improvement over current procedures, this will only help a portion of peanut/nut allergic people, and mostly likely won’t help severely allergic individuals.

— Airborne peanut/nut proteins can cause anaphylactic reactions faster than surface-bound peanut/nut proteins; the recycled air in the plane exacerbates this problem.

— Every surface could still be contaminated, even if you wipe down your seats; for example, touching any other arm rest, using lavatory doors, toilets, sinks, and surfaces right after someone else who was eating peanuts/nuts.

— There would simply still be too many risks.

Requesting a peanut/nut-free flight

— Again, better than current procedures, and better than a buffer zone, but still a problem. A peanut/nut allergic individual would likely be walking onto a plane that was not peanut/nut free 30 minutes prior; and although some cleaning of the cabins occurs between flights, many of the same issues mentioned above would still exist.

— How would the logistics of making other passengers aware prior to getting to airport be handled? Notify people at the time of purchase? How would they be notified after the time of purchase?

— Most people don’t understand and/or are not tolerant of peanut/nut allergy, purely out of lack of knowledge of its severity (prior to having a son diagnosed with peanut/nut and soy allergies I didn’t know what it entailed either); How would it be possible to prevent people “sneaking” peanuts/nuts or simply ignoring the policy?

— This has the potential to single out the peanut/nut allergic “offender” (for example, as soon as other passengers see you wiping down your seats).

Banning peanuts/nuts completely

— The only viable solution to make air travel routinely safe for everyone.

— Although there may still be risks of passengers violating the policy, this resolves all of the issues mentioned above. The surfaces of and air inside the plane would be safe, all travelers would know what to expect, no one would know who was or wasn’t peanut/nut allergic.

— Airlines have nothing to lose by instituting a full ban; they only have customers to gain. Like with any changes in air travel policy, if such a ban is universally instituted, everyone will have to accept it, and it will not prevent people from continuing to fly. However, what will happen is that a large and continuously growing part of the customer market that currently cannot or will not fly, will buy tickets knowing that air travel can be safe.

— Bear in mind the severity of a situation where a peanut/nut allergic individual goes into anaphylactic shock mid-air. In some cases, Benadryl and an Epipen (epinephrine auto-injector) will resolve the reaction for an amount of time. However, in many cases these measures merely buy you enough time to get to an emergency room, typically 10 to 15 minutes; which would not be possible when in mid-air. Therefore, while the first two policy options may reduce risk to a degree, they are not sufficient, assuming that the goal here is to make air travel safe for everyone.

6/8/2010 03:02

Some direct answers to the DOT’s questions:

“How likely it is that a passenger with a severe peanut allergy will suffer a reaction from peanut particles in the air on a flight?”

— Although there is no direct formula, if there are peanut particles in the air, it is highly likely that a passenger with a severe peanut allergy will have a life-threatening reaction.

“What steps should airlines have to take, if any, to avoid this danger?”

— Complete restriction of peanut products on board a flight is the only way to effectively try to avoid this danger. This includes food supplied by the airlines, as well as food brought by passengers and consumed on the plane.

“Would an epinephrine auto-injector, to allow immediate treatment of an allergic reaction, be sufficient?”

— Possibly, but you certainly can’t bank on it. Epinephrine auto-injectors are designed to temporarily open the air passages; they are for immediate treatment – not long term treatment. Although Epipens might end up staving off a reaction, they most frequently just buy you some time to get long term treatment at the hospital such as antihistamines, steroids, and other measures.

“If so, should it be the responsibility of the airline, or the passenger, to provide it?”

— That depends. As parents who have a child with a severe peanut allergy, we don’t go anywhere without Epipens, nor should anyone with a severe peanut allergy. However, the auto-injectors have a large needle at the end of them (it is retracted until the injection is administered), and I don’t know if this is currently a security issue. If so, and Epipens were not allowed to be carried by passengers onto a flight, it would absolutely be up to the airlines to have a stock of them on board as part of their medical supplies. Otherwise, if passengers with proper medical documentation were allowed to carry their prescribed Epipens, they should definitely be diligent in doing so, but I still think Epipens should be a standard item included with a plane’s medical supplies.

“Should any food item containing peanuts be covered in a restriction, including e.g., peanut butter crackers and products containing peanut oil?”

— Absolutely. Anything containing peanuts, such as peanut butter crackers, should be restricted, no question. Regarding peanut oils, theoretically, very highly refined peanut oil contains smaller amounts of peanut proteins, and therefore poses less of a risk. However, it is almost impossible to determine which food companies use what kinds of oils, how refined the oils are, and what else is involved in the manufacturing process. So in general, items containing peanut oils should be completely avoided.

    6/8/2010 03:54

    Thanks for the very complete answers to DOT’s questions Dave. Please feel free to comment on the other topics as well.

    Dave brings up an interesting point about security restrictions and epi-pens. Do restrictions exist against bringing epi-pens on planes? Has anyone had experience with these restrictions? Should these restrictions influence the regulation?

    6/8/2010 17:56

    I posted a full comment above but wanted to comment regarding EpiPens.

    We always carry a doctors note with us stating that our son needs his EpiPen. We’ve never been asked for the note and our EpiPens have never been taken, mentioned, or checked. We fly out of Logan Boston and Manchester NH. We’ve never flown with EpiPens out of country.

    I don’t consider the needle to be that large. I guess it depends upon your definition of large. It’s certainly not long. Could an EpiPen be considered a security threat? Probably not but I guess anything is possible if the person knows how to use it in such a way. I can’t even imagine what that would be.

    6/8/2010 18:55

    Thanks for the information Ruth. Do you think that the regulation should address EpiPens to avoid any potential problems?

    Have others had similar or different experiences with EpiPens?

    6/8/2010 19:12

    I don’t know whether the regulation should address EpiPens or not. How are other medications treated, like insulin for diabetics for instance? I think they should all fall under the same category.

    6/15/2010 10:50

    DaveW is giving false and misleading information about peanut allergy reactions in-flight.

    The results of a self-reporting study done in 2007 (http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(10)60835-6/abstract) show that:

    “Forty-one of 471 individuals reported allergic reactions to food while on airplanes, including 4 reporting more than 1 reaction. Peanuts accounted for most of the reactions. Twenty-one individuals (51%) treated their reactions during flight. Only 12 individuals (29%) reported the reaction to a flight attendant. Six individuals went to an emergency department after landing, including 1 after a flight diversion. Airline personnel were notified of only 3 of these severe reactions. Comparison of information given to 3 different investigators by airline customer service representatives showed that inconsistencies regarding important information occurred, such as whether the airline regularly serves peanuts.”

    His pseudo-fact about peanut particles in the air is definitely misleading. It seems to be based on the widely held myth that air inside the cabin is recycled; i.e. that it’s the same air you started out with on the ground and just moved around constantly during flight. Not true at all.

    Cabin air is a mixture of 50% fresh air (from outside the plane during flight) and what’s already in the cabin. Fresh is is cooled, then ducted throughout the cabin and down into the fuselage, where half of it is vented out; what remains is then filtered for particulates and other pollutants and mixed with fresh air and the cycle repeats. The result is that the air in the cabin is cleaner than in most public buildings, and the air is completely exchanged every 2-3 minutes.

    So, if there were peanut dust in the air at any point, it would quickly be filtered out of the air.

    Banning peanuts, tree nuts, or other items onboard makes no rational sense. A very small minority of the population has an allergy to peanuts and other nuts, and this would be allowing a minority to infringe on the rights of the majority.

    People with peanut and tree nut allergies can be desensitized to peanuts, as studies have shown. If they’re unwilling to do it, that’s not a problem that others should have to compensate for by not being allowed to eat a particular food or snack.

    We all take risk every day, and we accept those risk as part of living. Far more people die each year from drowning (more than 3,000) than from peanut allergy reactions (about 150), yet nobody’s advocating that we ban outdoor or indoor pools.

    The risk here is being greatly exaggerated for the political gain of a very few people.

    7/12/2010 16:45

    Just a few quick comments:

    According to the TSA website (http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/specialneeds/index.shtm), you can bring EpiPens onboard an airplane. I don’t have an EpiPen, but I have Type I diabetes, and I bring an insulin pen and syringes with me on every flight (about 12 times per year).

    Also, while many peanut allergies are very serious, it is still not “highly likely” that a person with a peanut allergy with have a reaction on an airplane where peanuts are served. I can’t access the entire article, but the following abstract has information on the number of peanut allergic individuals who had reactions inflight: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10400859

6/8/2010 17:27

Banning peanuts and peanut products on flights does not harm anyone and demonstrates the airlines’ (and government’s) reasonable attempt to meet the needs of those with severe peanut allergies. The airlines can’t control what passengers bring onboard, but they can try to regulate it and not have an entire flight full of people eating peanuts. An EpiPen only helps for a few minutes. I’d rather give up peanuts for a few hours than have a child lose his or her life. Is that what it is going to take to resolve this simple issue?

I teach a child with a severe peanut allergy. I can’t 100% prevent individuals from consuming peanut products and coming around the student. But, I can ban peanut products in my classroom and post huge signs on my door saying “do not enter if you have eaten or have been exposed to peanut products”. That demonstrates my reasonable efforts to protect the student.

6/8/2010 17:49

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an allergy sufferer, mom to a child with multiple life threatening food allergies (peanut included) and founder of BestAllergySites.com.

In regards to the questions asked:
1. Likelihood of reaction: I don’t know that anyone (allergist or not) can say with 100% confidence whether someone might have a reaction from peanut dust. All individuals and allergies are different. An allergic reaction is an immune system response. If an individuals immune system is compromised, they might have a more severe reaction then they would have otherwise. There “have” been reactions in situations where a person is exposed to a large amount of airborne peanut protein when multiple bags of peanuts are opened at once. For instance: at a ball park. I only imagine a plane would be worse.

My son had what we consider an anaphylactic reaction in flight at around the age of 2 from picking up his toy on the plane floor and then rubbing his eyes. His eyes immediately swelled, he started coughing and crying. Hives developed and so on. We can only guess that there was peanut dust on the floor.

2. Steps airlines should take: all allergic passengers should have/carry and be able to carry on board–epinephrine (EpiPen). Planes should also have them on flight due to reactions where 1. someone doesn’t have theirs 2. first time reaction in someone who didn’t know they were allergic. An EpiPen is not enough however. Allergic reactions can and may come back and patients usually need to be watched in a hospital for 4-6 hours following a reaction. Some may need IV treatment or other medications.

3. Should any foods containing peanut be restricted: In my opinion, all obvious peanut containing foods should be restricted–peanuts, peanut butter, peanut cookies, etc. The other products are not necessarily a concern from a dust standpoint but from a contact standpoint. Some individuals are allergic by touching a surface with peanut protein and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Most kids do this and even adults rub their eyes. Peanut oil is “usually” so highly processed that no peanut protein remains–so that might not be an issue. Obviously there are always exceptions to the rule. Items labeled “may contain peanuts” or “processed in a facility w/ peanuts” would more than likely be too difficult to ban.

I think the biggest issues are 1. peanut protein in dust from opening bags of peanuts. Solution-no bagged peanuts on flight. 2. Cross contamination on surfaces from prior passengers with peanut products. Examples are trays, floors, arm rests windows, etc. Solutions-a.Thorough cleanings between flights of ALL surfaces, b. banning all peanut containing products, c. adding a peanut buffer zone–but it must be peanut safe/free 100% of the time or completely cleaned.

Honestly–bottom line is going 100% peanut free/safe is the easiest and safest solution for all. There are a million other foods and snacks to eat. These allergies can be severe and life threatening. The only instance where I can personally see a potential actual “need” for peanut/peanut butter is in the rare case that it is a “medical need” for a passenger due to their diet or a disability.In that case–I think there should be accommodations put in place for those passengers.

I’m completely aware of the strong feelings and opinions a “ban” brings forth. Having a child and having seen a child suffer a life threatening reaction is not something I wish on anyone. Experiencing that in mid air with no access to an ambulance, ER or Dr. is beyond words.

While peanut allergies and reactions are not necessarily common–they are by all means not uncommon and certainly not rare. We live in a society and as a society we often have to make accommodations for each other.

    6/18/2010 16:41

    As allergies are not genetic, it is extremely unlikely (try impossible) that you and you child have the same allergy. Also, while unpleasant, your child’s reaction was not life threatening. Many children have these mild reactions to various foods – my daughter used to get a rash if she ate strawberries. The sensitivity fades, usually by age 4. The key is not to freak out about it. I bet you are the same mom who rushes to the emergency room for every bump and bruise too. The perception of an increase in severe allergies is just that – a perception. This generation of parents just can’t seem to let their kids grow up normally – which includes a few bumps, bruises, hives, etc. Peanuts ARE NOT going to kill anyone. They should not be banned.

6/8/2010 20:49

I feel for people with severe peanut allergies (and parents of those with such allergies); it must be terrible trying to avoid such a prevalent product. I don’t see how creating a peanut-free “buffer zone” around pre-registered allergic flyers is going to be genuinely effective in planes due to the recirculating air, and seems likely to cause conflict between airline employees and the non-allergic passengers being affected. An outright ban of peanut-containing products on board airplanes, whether they’re provided by the airline or brought on board by passengers, might be in order. That would likely also have to be coupled with a ban on the sale of peanut-containing products in airports. If we’re addressing hazards to the health of passengers from products that the affected passengers themselves aren’t even consuming, peanut allergies are not the only allergy/immune system problem that affects the flying public on a daily basis. Is the DOT going to follow this up with rules banning the wearing of perfumes or other scented products by airline employees and passengers so said products don’t trigger asthma attacks in susceptible members of the public? Or ruling that airline employees and members of the public who are suffering from communicable illnesses are not allowed to be on flights until they’re no longer contagious (e.g., people with colds, the flu, norovirus)? Those types of rules seem like the logical follow-up to rules surrounding peanut allergies.

kas
6/9/2010 04:12

I am a little skeptical that DOT has the power to implement this peanut ban. I would think that since Congress took away funding the last time that DOT tried to get rid of peanuts and DOT implicitly agreed to not take away peanuts, that DOT could not implement a peanut ban without Congress’ express authorization. At the very least, I think the DOT needs much more legally based response to this question then is currently included in the notice of proposed rulemaking. It would seem to me that DOT is playing a little fast and loose with the idea that just because Congress hasnt put the ban in place again, it must not want the ban. It would seem to me that Congress would not have any reason to cut off funding over peanuts, if DOT hasnt tried this stunt since 1999.

Also, the notice talks about Congress requiring a peer reviewed study about the effects of peanuts on planes. Does DOT have this study? If so, why is it not included in the notice.

I am not saying that the peanut ban is bad, but there are rules and it doesnt appear that DOT is playing by them.

    6/11/2010 19:38

    @kas Well reasoned. Law must be respected.

    6/11/2010 20:57

    Does anyone see a way that DOT could address the peanut issue without running afoul of the problem kas and KingSlav see?

6/10/2010 21:31

As I read through all the comments opposed to the peanut ban, I am amazed as to why some people feel it’s more important to fight for the right to consume the snack of their choice, over the chance to help protect the life of another human being. Is this really a comparison?!?!?

It is a fact that peanuts DO KILL people. Yes, it is a small percentage of the current population – what is the cost of one life to you if it’s your family, your neighbor, your child? And keep in mind, peanut allergies have doubled over the last five years. So perhaps it will not be such a small percentage soon. I think it is a sad statement on our society that this even is a debatable issue.

I would support a complete ban of peanuts and peanut products on aircraft carriers, as they are a confined, temporary space with no access to emergency medical assistance. Airplanes are different than airports, restaurants, taxis and other places that people have mentioned where a ban would not be necessary.

In the future, I would also support a ban of ANY SUBSTANCE proven to cause death … peanuts are not the only food. Tree nuts and shellfish can be just as deadly. And if it was proven that perfume, body odor or bad breath (as some of the other commentators compared this issue to) was shown to cause death, then yes, those should be banned as well.

It will not kill anyone to NOT EAT peanuts during the course of one flight. I WILL KILL someone with food allergies if they accidentally do.

    6/11/2010 00:08

    Thank you for your comments. Do you have suggestions on how airlines could enforce the ban on the plane if peanuts are still sold in airports?

    Also, you should check out the discussion on tarmac delays and how proposals of debarking the plane when there are delays may impact an airlines ability to implement a ban on peanuts on board. What do you think?

    6/13/2010 15:53

    Mallone – so you will not wear any toxic petro based products for ME? Do you even know you are wearing such products (yes you are)… read the labels and get back to me. (unless all you use, wear and clean with are 100 percent based on all chemicals that cause others life threatening reactions, and even so called natural ones such as Citrus oils…. so again, one group is “protected” (they will not be I assure you) and others ignored. Why is that.

    6/17/2010 17:47

    Other than death by choking, it IS NOT a fact that peanuts kill people. It is a fact that they provide a very nutritious snack that children will actually eat. If your paranoid imaginings are too sever for you to allow the rest of the traveling public to enjoy a snack in peace, STAY HOME!

    6/17/2010 17:56

    Thank you for your comment howie. The DOT would like to see any information you may be aware of concerning the relative safety of peanut products on airplanes.

6/10/2010 21:41

When a food allergy is life-threatening (and known to cause anaphylaxis), it considered a disability under federal laws such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In other words, people with severe peanut allergies have the right to be protected.

    6/15/2010 18:46

    No, allergies are not disabilities, and therefore you get no special treatment under the ADA. Federal courts have consistently ruled this way.

    6/15/2010 18:54

    Thanks for the comment. Do you have the specific cases or links that address this distinction?

    6/18/2010 03:46

    Mulder’s comment about the ADA is only partially true, but thoroughly exaggerated, because there has only been one court case. Food allergy is generally considered a disability under Section 504 and ADA. The point Mulder exaggerates is that there is no primary legal precedent, i.e., a court opinion, saying this. But there is secondary legal authority, i.e., settlements, USDA guidelines, etc. Plus, more to the point, airlines have their own version of the ADA, called the Air Carrier Access Act, as the DOT mentions in its notice of rulemaking. The ACAA prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities by U.S. and foreign air carriers, and DOT regulations require airlines to accommodate travelers with disabilities.

6/11/2010 02:00

While I have sympathy for people with allergies (I have my own), common sense should indicate that you cannot legislate EVERYTHING. People need to take responsibility for their own well-being and take whatever precautions are necessary if they decide they must fly. Imposing restrictions on 300 other people for one person does not seem reasonable, or practical. Who will be the peanut police? Does that include PB&J sandwiches – a practical meal to bring from home? Will this raise costs for the already struggling airlines? Guess who will pay the extra costs – EVERYONE.

What about people with other allergies? Do we ban milk and dairy products?

I am allergic to certain perfumes. Should we ban all perfumes too?

When will it end? There has to be some common sense.

Here are my suggestions:

* Allergy sufferers should be:

* responsible for their own medication (we can’t expect airlines to be pharmacies too; what if they run out?)

* take precautions if they have severe problems (e.g. mask, epi-pen, antihistamines)

* not fly if their problems are that life-threatening (how do they survive in the rest of the real world? The airport? Do we have airports cleared of all potential allergens? Theoretically that is all food, and anything that gives off any sort of aroma/smell. Do they have a person walking in front and behind clearing the way of all allergens? Of course not – they take reasonable precautions.)

* It is NOT a right to fly – it is a CHOICE and convenience for those who can afford it.

What do these sufferers do now? They probably take reasonable precautions. My vote is to not legislate BS like this.

6/11/2010 14:46

As the mother of a severe peanut allergic child who has had an episode on an airplane that required epinephrine I would like to stress how important it is to remove all peanuts and peanut products from the plane. Even traces of peanut butter left on the tray table can pose a threat to someone with a severe peanut allergy. It is also important for crew to alert passengers through a public announcement and ask them not to eat peanuts that they have brought on board. This is becoming more common as airlines cut down on food service. America airlines are the worst in assisting passengers with peanut allergies. Airlines need to do what most schools today do: ban all peanut products and ban people from bringing peanuts and peanut products onto the plane. Flying is not a choice, it is often a necessity. Would you say to a peanut allergic person that they cannot go to a job interview if it is not within driving distance of their home? It is hard to believe that this issue is even up for debate.

    6/11/2010 15:38

    Thank you for your comment. You have a great perspective as the parent of a child who has had an allergic reaction on a plane. It sounds like you have some interesting travel experiences. The DOT would love to hear what you have to say about topics such as tarmac delays, baggage fees, and bumping compensation. Use the Rule Dashboard on the left to navigate to these other issues in the rule.

    6/18/2010 16:47

    What is hard to believe is that you feel perfectly fine inflicting your unfounded paranoia on the rest of us. Truly life threatening food allergies are vanishingly rare. These days everyone seems to want to think they belong to a special needs group of some kind. You got a hive once after eating a peanut butter sandwich, and suddenly you have a life threatening allergy. If you are one of the VERY FEW who actually have this condition, DON’T FLY. You can’t go to a job interview anyway, because anywhere you go you will be exposed to peanuts. ‘Most’ schools are not succumbing to this foolish paranoia – just the ones run by PC nazi whackos. I tell you what, anyone tells me I can’t feed my kid the one nutritious snack she will actually eat better be prepared for a lawsuit and a black eye.

6/11/2010 17:24

I am a mother if a three year old with nut (including peanuts and cashews) and egg allergies. I also support any ban on foods with peanut ingredients on airplanes. We try to avoid airlines that serve peanuts, but that is becoming more difficult in this economy where we are trying to save any where we can and airlines are merging. We have family in Europe and used to fly Northwest with our son, however, since they have merged with Delta that is now our least expensive option (we average $2,500 – $3,500 in tickets each time we fly, so price does make a difference). Delta serves nuts.

My son did have a reaction on one flights. He did not eat nuts, and neither did anyone in our row, we believe he came in contact with the nuts from someone who had sat in our seats on a previous flight. Luckily the reaction was not severe, we could control it with medicine, but when you have a 16 month old reacting at 35,000 feet, it can be very scary.

Then next time we flew where the airline served nuts, we told them of the allergy when we bought the tickets and when we checked in. I felt very discriminated by a few comments we received from airline personnel. One flight attendant got angry that he wasn’t told in advance and later blamed me when he ran out of non nut snacks when asked for a bag of pretzels (they created a “peanut free area” around us). Another flight attendant announced to the plane that they would not be serving nut products because there was a small child with a nut allergy. I felt like my family was singled out because it was a small flight and we were the only family with a small child.

Please change the law to remove nuts from flights, no child’s life is worth the risk.

    6/11/2010 20:51

    Thanks for your comment. Do you have any data about how many other people who have had similar experiences to your family?

    Also, it sounds like you’ve done some traveling. The DOT would love to hear what you have to say about other issues in the rule! Use the Rule Dashboard on the left to navigate to other topics.

    6/18/2010 16:53

    While I am sure it was scary, you said it yourself, the reaction was not severe. I applaud the flight attendant for singling you out – as a fellow traveller I would want to know who had caused MY child to not be able to have a snack on a long flight. Peanuts are harmless to 99.9999999% of the population. In that VERY small subset that are effected, actual life threatening reactions are incredibly rare. The traveling public should not be impacted because of your erroneous belief that this wonderful food might harm your child.

    6/23/2010 07:00

    I am allergic to nuts, peanuts included. Even the smell of peanuts makes me want to be sick. The fact the entire plane opens their peanuts at once, makes it an overpowering smell that just unsettles me and makes me nervous. I just can’t see air travelers really loving peanuts so much that 1) it is their preferred snack, and 2) they are willing to eat it at the expense of another person’s suffering. I do fly Southwest a lot and tell them of my allergy, and they are pretty good about banning peanuts from that flight.

    8/5/2010 10:19

    If you ban everything that makes people “want to be sick” then you would have to ban air travel since a far higher percentage of people in this country get air sick than have severe (or lethal) reactions to peanuts and believe me, when you are air sick you really wish it was fatal at times.

    8/5/2010 10:17

    Hmm, so if people are made aware of the situation you feel discriminated against but if they are unaware of the situation and they have peanuts then you feel, essentially, discriminated against? Seriously, just because the cheaper airfare doesn’t ban peanuts that is no excuse to place restrictions on everyone else who flies. You have children with an allergy that means it is going to cost you in money, time, and diligence in order to protect them to whatever level you deem necessary. That is your burden. I have a bad back and therefore I do not pack a heavy suitcase when I go somewhere and end up buying some items that I otherwise might have carried with me. That is my burden. I don’t expect you to carry my bags for me so that i can pack more in.

6/11/2010 20:19

Before any rule is made, I would like to see actual hard evidence of the number of incidents graded into at least a simple severity level, e.g., discomfort, controllable severe symptoms, uncontrollable severe symptoms. I have friends who have peanut allergies that range from mild to severe/life-threatening. They all are willing to let people know of their condition, but are also willing to take precautions for themselves to minimize their exposures. Only as a last resort do they seek to limit use by others, and then only to the extent necessary to avoid exposure that would thwart their precautions.

    6/11/2010 20:35

    Does anyone have the type of data lutefisk941 is looking for? This data would also be very useful for DOT to know as it makes its decision.

6/11/2010 23:53

I support an outright ban. First, simply as a peanut allergy sufferer, a key travel worry of mine would be allayed. Second, either the creation of a buffer-zone or removal of peanuts base on a passenger’s request is impractical. What if there are multiple allergy sufferers on the plane? Finding appropriate seat arrangements for everyone is completely impractical and time-consuming, delaying take-off. It also distracts flight attendants from completing their job. Second, among all of the other things a passenger needs to be keep in mind when traveling, notifying the airline of a peanut allergy should not be one of them. And when should the airline be notified? When is it too late to do so? And if it is too late, then what happens if someone has an allergic reaction on the plane? One possible solution is to have a little box checked off when booking a ticket to indicate a peanut allergy. But given the myriad of ways in which tickets are booked and purchased today, this is unlikely to be completely successful. The most practical solution is to just ban them on flights. The decision is not based on the risk to allergy and non-allergy passengers, but the costs of different solutions.

    6/12/2010 12:29

    Why ban them? Maybe some passengers like peanuts.

    Why not just require the flight attendants to warn you, and only give you peanuts if you ask for them. The same for anything containing peanut products.

    6/12/2010 13:09

    Thanks for your comments. Would creating a peanut-free “zone” on an airplane work, similar to peanut-free tables and playground areas in schools?

    We’d love to hear your thoughts on other topics, particularly ticket sales and advertising, and how those could be made more responsive to peanut allergy suffers.

    6/13/2010 16:44

    There’s no reason to restrict peanuts on any flight. The number of deaths per year due to anaphylaxis (150-200 per year) is much, much smaller than other causes of death (drowning, for example).

    People who actually suffer from a severe allergic reaction to peanuts know what precautions to take, and their condition should never infringe on the rights of others. If they can’t deal with the risk they take every day, no matter where they are, then they should be living in a bubble.

    Instead of blaming others for their real or perceived allergy, they should take steps to desenstize themselves to peanuts, which can be done, as studies have shown.

    Even better, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University developed a way to remove the allergens from peanuts in 2007, so if the various food companies that process and market peanuts take an interest in licensing this technology, people can avoid any fear of allergic reactions from peanuts.

    You can read the press release here: http://www.ncat.edu/press_releases/disp_release.php?ID=3132

6/12/2010 12:27

Peanut allergies a disability? Get serious. What’s next, lactose intolerance is one?

    6/13/2010 16:24

    If peanut allergies qualify as a disability, then what is the DOT or FAA going to do about people who are allergic to one or more types of dust (most of the population), or those who have difficulty breathing due to a deviated septum (80 percent or more of the population)?

    Should they ban dust on airplanes, and if so, how do they expect to accomplish that without closing the airports (people bring in dust from outside)? They’d have to shut down air travel, since they wouldn’t be able to allow the doors to be opened for passengers to embark or disembark due to the dust on their clothes and luggage, in the jetway, and outside the plane.

    For those with a deviated septum, are they going to start requiring that airlines give every passenger a more than adequate supply of non-emergency oxygen (and a mask) for the length of their flight to help them breathe better?

    Sometimes the only way to fight back against the ridiculous is to propose something even more ridiculous.

    6/18/2010 03:44

    Faulty reasoning on Mulder’s part. There’s no comparison between the leading cause of fatal and near-fatal food allergic reactions and a dust mite. Or a deviated septum.

6/13/2010 03:26

I have been allergic to peanuts for nearly 40-years! I typically fly Southwest Airlines – a leading airline in distributing peanuts to passengers as THE ONLY SNACK on many of their flights. After a typical flight, I will have itchy, watery eyes sometimes to the point where I can barely keep my eyes open. Luckily my allergy is not AS BAD as many – but I can empathize with those with worse conditions. In Southwest’s defense, if I would call ahead of time and inform them I was allergic to peanuts they would gladly air out the aircraft and refrain from serving peanuts on my flight. Although I am not against the idea of peanuts being restricted from all flights, I do appreciate people’s comments regarding the absurdity of such an all-encompassing rule. I think an effective and simple solution might be to ask passengers either verbally when tickets are purchased person-to-person, or via a question prior to an e-ticket purchase that asks the traveler if they are allergic to peanuts. If yes – then that particular flight can be aired out of prior peanuts and peanuts not served on that flight. I look forward to seeing the outcome to this issue.

    6/14/2010 16:07

    Thank you for your comment. Should the airlines be required to ask every passenger whether they are allergic to peanuts/other allergies, or do you think it should be up to the person with the particular allergy to inform the airline ahead of time?

    6/18/2010 16:56

    I think it is incredibly rude that you will inconvenience an entire plane load of people to avoid mild discomfort. Take benadryl before you fly, or don’t fly. Your watery eyes and itchy throat are not my problem.

    7/12/2010 17:00

    Another way to address this: if Southwest serves peanuts, you could fly United, Continental, or American Airlines instead (the allergy policy of those airlines states that they do not serves peanuts inflight). You know you have the option, so you might as well act on it if it makes you uncomfortable.

6/13/2010 14:22

Anyone who actually suffers from a life-threatening reaction to peanuts should not be on a plane at all. If the presence of peanut dust on an airliner is that risky to them, they know they shouldn’t be flying. Despite what FAAN claims, there is no scientific data to support the idea that large numbers of people are dying from anaphylactic shock due to peanut allergies, or even that peanut allergies are on the rise through natural causes. Gullible parents telling their kids not to eat peanuts because they are or might be allergic causes needless anxiety for those children, and when they finally are exposed to peanuts or peanut dust, they end up having an allergy. That’s irresponsible parenting.

At the same time, most of the population is allergic to one or ore types of dust; should the FAA ban that from airliners, too? How would they accomplish that? They’d be unable to open the doors to board or disembark, and you’d have to close all the airports, too.

Allergies are not disabilities. If that were true, then the 80 percent or more people who have a deviated septum would also qualify as having a disability, yet nobody’s proposing that airlines supply a separate, non-emergency oxygen supply to help them breathe better.

It’s time to put an end to bending to the agenda of special interest groups that have a political agenda: one that isn’t based on science, but instead based solely on fear and claims that can’t be supported by scientific facts.

6/14/2010 23:03

With nearly 2 million peanut allergic people out there and the severely allergic classed under ADA protection, the airlines should not serve peanuts in any form on any flight. I am severely allergic as are my twin sons and we cannot fly without specific guarantees from the airline for our safety.

    6/17/2010 17:51

    Highly unlikely that you AND two of your offspring actually suffer from the same allergy. Allergies are not genetic. Therefore, I must classify you as a hypochondriac. Unfortunately your paranoia is robbing your kids of one of the most nutritious foods (pound for pound) on the planet.

6/15/2010 04:04

I am utterly amazed at the ignorance displayed by some of those commenting here. Allergies are not “perceived” as Mulder suggests, and it is ridiculous and unrealistic to suggest that people with severe food allergies “live in a bubble”. No one who has an allergy chooses to be in this situation, and walking onto an airplane where peanuts either are being consumed or have been consumed is like playing Russian Roulette.

We are talking about a SNACK ON AN AIRPLANE. Can you really be complaining about your rights to eat a snack?!? My son could DIE because you can’t forgo a snack for two hours.

While we could drive everywhere we need to go for the rest of his life, there may come a time when time constraints force us to fly. No matter how much “responsibility we take”, we cannot sufficiently protect him if people around us are eating any peanut product. We always carry an epi-pen, and feel that should be our responsibility. But, again, that may not be enough to save his life. Those auto-injectors can only buy us 10-15 minutes, barely enough time for a plane to request an emergency landing site. He would be dead before we taxied to the gate. FOR A SNACK!!

An outright ban should be in place.

    6/15/2010 10:12

    Apparently Samsmom is the ignorant one. She attacks what she clearly does not understand. If her child has a true peanut allergy that is so severe, he shouldn’t be flying, since her argument is that any contact with peanut dust or oil would cause anaphylactic shock. Since that possibility is very real even outside an airline cabin, she’s making her own argument for living in a bubble.

    Facts are stubborn things, and one of those facts is that the air onboard an airliner is cleaner than in most public buildings, so there’s very little, if any, real risk involved in flying on a jet where peanuts have been consumed before or are even being served now.

    Another stubborn fact is that you can be desensitized to peanut allergies, but if you’re unwilling to do it, don’t blame others for not bending to your petty fears.

    6/15/2010 20:31

    Thank you for your input. The DOT would be very interested in seeing any data that you have on the airborne risks associated with peanut consumption on commercial flights.

    6/17/2010 04:33

    Nobody has studied this subject, so there’s no hard data. But we do know that the air onboard an airliner is much cleaner than people think. Only one confirmed death onboard an airliner has been reported, but it may have been as far back as 1998, and it was an Eastern European airline.

    6/18/2010 21:13

    Peanut allergens are indeed present in the recirculated air in the aircraft cabin. This study, “Recovery of peanut allergens from ventilation filters of commercial airliners,” conducted “to help address whether peanut-sensitive travelers are exposed to peanut aeroallergans during airline flights on which peanuts are served” resulted in the conclusion that “that peanut allergens can be eluted from ventilation system filters in commercial airliners. The most likely source of these allergens are the peanuts served during flights.” See http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/0091-6749/PIIS0091674996811791.pdf

    6/18/2010 21:32

    Hi again, Antanagoge, and thanks for providing a link to that study. Is it possible to post the entire article as well, or is that unavailable? Also, while we truly appreciate your interest in the peanut allergen regulation, if you have comments on one of the other proposed regulations, I’m sure the community would appreciate hearing from you.

    6/17/2010 02:19

    Mulder, you seem to have a lot of knowledge on the subject of airlines and peanut allergies? Are you a researcher or doctor of some sort?

    6/17/2010 04:38

    No, I’m just an allergy sufferer (but not to peanuts or tree nuts) like most of the population. The difference is that I actually know a good number of people in the airline industry as well as reading lots of research papers on the subject of peanut allergies.

    I tire of the constant harping that peanut allergies are on the rise, when there is no scientific data to back it up. I do believe that people need to educate themselves as to what is a real allergy, rather than simply an adverse reaction to a particular food. Far too often, people (especially parents) quickly label an adverse reaction as an allergy, without testing them to be certain. Then they hammer away at the child that they can’t have certain foods or have to be REALLY CAREFUL or they’ll die. That creates needless anxiety for the child and causes a great deal of psychological damage to them.

    6/17/2010 17:54

    So true! I see this all the time. They try to ban peanuts at school because some over anxious mom saw something on TV about food allergies and that became her kids affliction du jour. Peanuts are harmless to 99.99999% of humans. The 3 living humans who are actually in danger just need to stay in a bubble and leave the rest of us in peace.

    6/18/2010 04:32

    There is no indication that Mulder is qualified to make reliable claims on the subject of allergies. He is not an expert in this context. And the fact that an unqualified person makes a claim does not provide any rational reason to accept the claim as true.

    There is adequate agreement among real allergy experts that “the most practical solution to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction to peanuts would be to simply discontinue serving packaged peanut snacks on all flights covered by the DOT.” See the statement of the Medical Advisory Board of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network at http://www.foodallergy.org/page/dot-proposal.

    6/18/2010 03:29

    Mulder’s statement is both mean-spirited and inaccurate. There is currently NO safe effective desensitization for peanut allergy (or any other food allergy) available. There is currently No immunotherapy to lower the risk of anaphylactic reactions and cause people to outgrow their allergy. Yes, studies are underway which could potentially lead to new therapies in the future, but NO desensitization treatment presently exists. Any attempts to personally undertake this are strongly cautioned against by all real authorities on the subject.

    In spite of the growing occurrence of food allergies in the U.S. and their danger to sufferers, there presently are NO medications to cure or control food allergies. Strict avoidance of the allergenic food is the ONLY way to avoid a reaction.

    6/18/2010 04:46

    Mulder begs the very question at stake and insults a mother in the process. If peanuts were discontinued on flights, then even her severely peanut-allergic child could fly.

6/15/2010 04:46

My peanut allergic son flew with me on Southwest when he was 3. I carried him in, wiped the whole area down while holding him, etc. etc. Picked up the food all around (I had let SW know about his allergy on several occasions before we boarded but nothing was done). He didn’t touch one thing and he sat in his very large car seat the whole time. About 30 min. into the flight, his eyes were swollen shut and his face was bright red… just from breathing (isn’t breathing a right we deserve?). I let the flight attendant know but all she said was “I hope you have your medicine”. THIS WAS A THREE YEAR OLD! It was really scary. Thankfully, I did have his medicine but I have never flown with him since. It makes me REALLY sad to hear all of your comments about banning other foods, animals, perfumes, etc. (You know that is not the intention.) How insensitive, especially to those of us who have lost a child or a loved one to such a small thing as a PEANUT. No one would EVER wish this upon their child. It is not something we have chosen. It is a dark shadow that we have to live with every day. Would you tell the elderly person who was able to board before you that she/he can’t sit in the first row because it’s not fair? Personally, I teach my children to love and respect all people, in all circumstances. I would hope others are doing the same.
Can you imagine being given a free trip to Disney World with your child and you just can’t go because you can’t fly to get there? This is what has happened to us, just this month. It’s really sad. I can’t even tell my son about it.
So, obviously, I would support the ban of peanuts on planes. I don’t even care if someone brings them on board (well, of course, I would not want that) but packaged peanuts are a different story. The oils on your hands are on those fabric seats forever and the peanut POOF is in the ventilation system for everyone to breathe. In regards to medicines, someone mentioned earlier about a defibrillator being on board. They are prepared for heart problems but a child’s first reaction to peanuts is just as likely and deadly, so maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have one. Although, I can’t imagine someone with a peanut allergy coming on board without their medicines.
On a side note, someone commented about how this would only effect 1% of the population. I’m not sure about that number. But, I do know that out my family of 5, NONE of us can fly with my child… so not only does my son not fly, but we don’t. I would venture to say that this is the same case for most families. So, much more than 1% would be e/affected.
Thanks for letting me give my thoughts.

    6/15/2010 11:06

    If your child has a true peanut allergy, was it clinically diagnosed by eating peanuts and then testing blood for IgE antibodies? If not, then you don’t know he has an allergy; you have only anecdotal evidence, which is often mistaken for true allergies.

    You can fly with your son, you simply choose not to because of your unfounded fear that something will happen; that’s a choice you made and it can’t be blamed on the airlines or anyone else. You take far greater risks with yourself and your son every day, yet somehow you’ve managed to live this long.

    You’re not able to objectively evaluate your risk, which is why you fall into the trap of being afraid of things that are very unlikely to happen. Far more people die every year from drowning, but I don’t think that’s ever stopped you from going to a pool, or that it would stop you from letting your son go swimming in a pool.

    Instead of conflating the remotely possible and the inevitable. step back and look at things objectively; when you do, you’ll see there are many things that are far more likely to happen than having a severe allergic reaction on a plane. Even so, you can desensitize your son so that if he has a true peanut allergy now, he won’t in the future.

    6/18/2010 17:00

    Absolutely correct. Unfounded fear is paralyzing this country and taking the enjoyment of life away from an entire generation of children. Far less that 1% of the population actually has a severe allergy. 99% of those who think they do are full of it. Oh yeah, the kid had a reaction at 3yrs. old. It is almost certain that by 5yrs. he will have outgrown the sensitivity.

    6/15/2010 14:48

    I have a great deal of empathy for those who have, or are related to someone who has, severe peanut allergies. Clearly, their health is much more important that my desire to snack on peanuts for a few hours, and I doubt many people could debate that.
    Having said that, how exactly would such a ban on peanuts be enforced? I was on a Southwest flight not long ago, where a mom demanded that peanuts not be served on her flight with her daughter. The flight attendants complied. Mind you, this was Southwest Airlines, which had the marketing tagline “We Fly For Peanuts” for years. Common sense dictates that if your daughter has a severe peanut allergy, YOU DON’T FLY SOUTHWEST. Even if the crew agrees to suspend peanut service for this flight, the last flight served peanuts. There are discarded peanut bags in the seat back pocket in front of your daughter. Peanut dust is on the seats, in the ventilation, and everywhere else. How will keeping peanuts off of THIS leg of the flight protect you or your child? And even if peanuts are not served on that leg, if there’s still an allergic reaction, how does that affect the airline’s liability, or the liability of other passengers who might have eaten peanuts in the gate area and boarded with peanut dust on their hands?
    On the same flight I, and many friends of mine who also travel frequently, each had a bag of nuts in our carry-on. Forget for a moment that it would be impossible (if not unconstitutional) for flight crew to prevent people from eating their own snacks while flying. The mere fact that I had an open bag of nuts in my carry-on – even if I never took it out – could have been enough to trigger this girl’s allergy. The slippery-slope potential here boggles the mind. (You had peanut butter on your bagel for breakfast this morning? Sorry, sir, you can’t board this flight.)
    You will never convince peanut allergy sufferers or their families that this should not be controlled, and I can see their point without agreeing with it. Consider this: I am violently allergic to dogs and cats, yet most mass-market airlines now allow pets to be stowed in the passenger compartment. I don’t recall anyone ever asking me if my health would be compromised by allowing pet dander aboard. I don’t protest, because I am responsible for controlling my own allergies, whether that means carrying a dust mask or an epi-pen aboard. If I choose to fly, I alone must be responsible for my own health. As much as allergens might affect me, other people have rights too; and to twist around a well-known saying, “My rights end where your nose begins.”

    6/16/2010 02:49

    Thanks for your comment, gwiener. Do you think any other areas of the rule implicate the rights issues you are concerned about?

    6/15/2010 20:07

    Thank you for your input and for sharing a personal story of how your family was directly impacted by this issue. You raise a very interesting point concerning the effects of peanut allergies not just on those that suffer from them, but also the impact they have on families/friends. The DOT is interested in learning more about how one family member’s allergy can impact the travel plans of the entire family.

6/15/2010 09:57

If you or your children are allergic to peanuts, did you have this clinically diagnosed by testing for the presence of IgE antibodies after eating peanut? If not, then there’s no way to confirm you have an allergy to them. You can be intolerant of peanuts, but that’s not the same thing as an allergy, and allergies are not inherited.

If you’re looking for guarantees for safety from an airline or anything else, you’re not going to get that, ever. You take risks like everyone else no matter what you do.

And the ADA does not extend any protection to you, since allergies are not a disability. The courts have consistently ruled against this.

6/15/2010 10:00

No, there is no ADA protection for allergy sufferers, nor has there ever been. You already tried this argument in the previous comment section.

6/15/2010 17:23

I am 100% in favor of banning peanuts from planes. I was in favor of this before my 3 year old was diagnosed with a peanut allergy (because I knew how serious reactions could be) and I certainly remain in favor now. Food allergies are becoming more and more common (and you can get food allergies at any point in your life so people should not think that this “only concerns someone else or someone else’s kid” because it could very well concern YOU and your family at some point)…People do not need peanuts to survive but those who are allergic DO need a peanut free area to survive. If no one cares about anyone but themselves, at least realize that if peanuts are served on a flight and someone has a reaction, your plane will have to make an emergency landing. That’s not something that anyone wants. Is the desire to have peanuts really worth the risk of an emergency landing?

    6/15/2010 18:48

    Thank you for your comment. A few other posters have also brought up the issue of forcing emergency landings in case of a reaction, but you are the first to have brought up the point that such an event effects all the passengers. Do you know of any instances or studies that might indicate how many flights are forced to land due to onboard allergic reactions?

    6/18/2010 17:02

    How about ZERO. This is a non-issue. Peanuts are harmless.

6/15/2010 18:10

The FDA requires labeling for the following 8 allergens: fish, crustaceans, wheat, eggs, milk, soybeans, tree nuts, peanuts. If the DOT decides to ban ONE of these allergens, any one of which can cause harm to some members of the population, shouldn’t it in all justice ban ALL EIGHT of them? A person who claims peanut allergy who does not advocate for banning all 8 allergens is as selfish as the person who opposes banning peanuts on airplanes because they like them.

6/15/2010 21:37

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this very sensitive topic.

DOT asked, “How likely it is that a passenger with a severe peanut allergy will suffer a reaction from peanut particles in the air on a flight?”
While I am no expert, I believe that a variety of simulations could empirically address this issue. One would need to determine the required concentration of airborne particles to spark an allergic reaction in the most medically sensitive individual – thereby setting the threshold level of airborne peanut particulate. That said, as other commenters have noted, airborne peanut particulate is not the sole cause of an allergic reaction.
I do, however, take issue with the phrasing of this question. Clearly, the genesis of the question is that allergic reactions to peanuts can be fatal. The question should address *potentially fatal* allergic reactions. This brings us to DOT’s next question…

DOT asked: “What steps should airlines have to take, if any, to avoid this danger?”
If the danger being addressed is any and all allergic peanut reaction, the answer is “none.” If the danger being addressed is a *potentially fatal* allergic reaction, airlines should stop serving peanuts and contributing to a potentially dangerous environment. However, an outright restriction on what passengers may be permitted to bring on board is excessive and, potentially, unenforceable. Would gate agents be required to inspect passengers’ snack items to ensure that they do not contain peanuts? Transportation security challenges are already too great to include enforcement of a ban on all peanut products. Furthermore, it is unreasonable to assume that the average citizen is fully aware of the peanut content (or made-in-a-factory-that-processes-peanuts labeling) of their snack items. No all-out ban will fully eliminate a potentially fatal environment, and DOT should not encourage such a false sense of security to those travelers who might be concerned about this matter.
If the study outlined in my first response yielded a reasonable ppm threshold of peanut particulate, DOT could work with airlines and airliner manufacturers to install the appropriate systems that would alert passengers to the risk as well as neutralize that risk.

DOT asked, “Would an epinephrine auto-injector, to allow immediate treatment of an allergic reaction, be sufficient? If so, should it be the responsibility of the airline, or the passenger, to provide it?”
I cannot answer the first part. As for the second part, airlines already carry portable defibrilators. Carrying EpiPens would not be an undue burden. Airlines, however, should expect that passengers or parents would carry their own EpiPens. Airlines should not be expected to administer EpiPen treatments to unaccompanied children, and children with such allergies should not be permitted to fly unaccompanied.

DOT asked, “Should any food item containing peanuts be covered in a restriction, including e.g., peanut butter crackers and products containing peanut oil?”
See above: airlines should not contribute to an environment that endangers their passengers. However, passenger choices should not be restricted, if reasonable assurance can be given that passenger food/snack choices do not contribute to a potentially fatal environment.

    6/16/2010 02:36

    Thank you for your comment. You seem interested in striking a balance between competing interests and concerns. Do you think the proposed rule does a good job of this in other areas as well?

6/15/2010 22:59

I have been watching this discussion for a couple of days now, and want to weigh in on a few issues that have been raised by both supporters and opponents of a proposed peanut ban.

First, I find that most of the discussion has been focusing on children with allergies, and related to that, good parenting. This is certainly understandable, given the increase in peanut allergies among children. But it neglects another perspective – namely, the adult allergy sufferer.

I’ve had a moderate to severe peanut allergy since the age of 2 (and I am now in my late 20s). By the age of 6, I knew how to take my medications myself. Since the EpiPen has come out, I’ve carried epinephrine with me. And I’ve always had various other medications – e.g. inhaler – on hand. I would never expect an airline to have such medications on hand, though I would expect them to have a first-aid kit.

Opponents of the ban suggest that allergy sufferers simply avoid flying. It might be possible when the sufferer is a child – perhaps it is possible for a family to drive to grandma’s house for Christmas instead of taking a plane. This depends, of course, on where grandma lives – if she lives in California, and the family lives in Maine, there might be problems.

Adults, on the other hand, travel by air for a myriad of reasons. As a graduate student, I studied at a university eight hours from home. A few months ago, there was a family emergency at home. My choices were to drive eight hours, thereby possibly ending after a loved one had already passed, or to brave a flight with peanuts on board but that would take considerably less time. I chose the flight, taking all sorts of precautions including informing the flight attendants of my allergy. They created a “peanut-free zone” around me, serving pretzels to the passengers sitting four rows in front of me and four rows behind me. I still had a mild reaction (no use of the EpiPen, in other words, but still heavily medicated by the time I left the plane), so that when I did arrive at the hospital, I had to undergo treatment myself before visiting my loved one.

Towards the end of graduate school, I applied to a number of jobs all over the US and was granted interviews at many of them. For offices that were far away, I chose the interviews that I did accept and attend based on whether a peanut-free airline was available to fly into that city. I feared not only a severe allergic reaction in air, but also any repercussions that could carry over to my interview once I had taken medication. I’ve had allergies since the age of 2, so I understand that sometimes, my ability to engage in certain activities is more limited than others. But when I take all necessary precautions and still, my job prospects are limited or I fail to see a dying loved one, because an airline obstinately refuses to serve peanuts, isn’t that a little ridiculous? Is this really a fair result? I shudder to think what life will be like when I am a “full-fledged” working adult. Will I have to forgo promotions because I cannot travel on peanut-laden flights? It sounds dramatic, but it’s not melodramatic. The only thing that’s melodramatic is the reaction of some people who act as giving up a snack is an infringement of their rights.

    6/15/2010 23:24

    Thank you for your post. You are correct; much of the discussion has focused on children with peanut allergies and has neglected the impact allergies may have on adults. We certainly encourage more people to post about the impact of peanut allergies on adult airline travelers.

6/16/2010 02:31

I’m a physician, epidemiologist, and mother to a four year old boy with allergies to milk, peanuts and egg. My son’s dairy allergy is severe, and he has had numerous life-threatening anaphylactic reactions to trace amounts of milk, which required multiple doses of epinephrine and trips to the Emergency Department. Tests indicate that his peanut allergy is worse, but fortunately he has only been exposed once to a peanut; he put one in his mouth and had a relatively mild reaction.

I’ve traveled with my children and despite calling ahead, making requests, and reminding employees at the door, I’ve rarely had respect, let alone consistency, in any kind of peanut-free buffer zone or flight. Several years ago Continental Airlines customer service headquarters informed me that they would serve peanuts on all flights as they were unable to guarantee a peanut free flight. (So why not hand out weapons since they can’t guarantee a weapon free flight either?)

I’ve sat with my epi pen in hand on a filthy flight with visible peanut crumbs on the floor while a flight attendant insisted on offering peanuts to the passengers around me because “it was their right.”

Fortunately for me, my son’s peanut allergy is not severe enough that it prohibits us from air travel. Now that he is old enough to not put things in his mouth, and to protect himself, we are safer. However, I know of many, many others in the allergy community, children and adults who simply can NOT fly.

My son’s dairy allergy is quite severe. The world would be a much safer place for us if no one consumed milk near him. If his skin touches anything that once touched milk, even if it was partially cleaned, he will get severe hives. If he consumes even less than a drop, within seconds his lips, eyes and face will swell, he will be covered in hives, vomit, and be gasping for breath. Without epinephrine he would probably die within minutes. But milk is ubiquitous, and milk allergy relatively uncommon, so we must protect ourselves. Peanut allergy is common, and it is a simple step to serve an alternative peanut based snacks for a short period of time. So why is this a big problem?

The vast majority of potential reactions would be eliminated by simply avoiding snacks that have peanuts or peanut butter as an ingredient. Peanut oil is known to contain very little of the actual peanut protein, and would be of little risk in an airborne environment.

As a physician, I have responded to the call from airline staff asking for emergency medical assistance. I am well aware of how expensive and inconvenient it is to ground a plane. In addition, most epi-pens come in two pack doses, each of which are good for maybe 10 to 15 minutes. Which in a severe anaphylactic reaction is simply not enough time between the beginning of a reaction and the patient reaching EMS.

I’ve found that other passengers, as a rule, are extremely supportive, and are more than happy to help with a fellow passengers safety. I think the people commenting on this site would react entirely differently were they seated next to an allergic child on a plane. Of course they would refrain from eating peanuts for a few hours if they knew it would hurt someone they were looking in the face. But I am sympathetic to individuals who are unhappy with yet another discomfort inflicted on air travelers. This restriction is designed to protect people with allergies from the airlines callous disregard for cleanliness and for our safety, not from our fellow passengers.

My son wanted to also write a letter.

“Hi. My name is Steven. I am 4 years old. I am allergic to peanuts, eggs and cow milk. If I eat a peanut I’ll get sick. I ate a nut one time and got a big bump on my lip and it swelled up and it was hard to breathe. It was scary and my dad gave me some medicine that made it better. I would like for them to not give out peanuts so I won’t get sick because I’m allergic. Everybody should drink Sprite and eat Pringles and Pretzels.”

    6/16/2010 02:38

    Thank you for your comment. Do you have experiences with other areas addressed the rule as well, where perhaps the supportiveness of airline staff and fellow travelers has differed?

    6/16/2010 05:04

    My child is 2 years old and he is severely allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, egg and milk. My son has reacted to airborne particles from someone opening a bag of nuts near him. My husband and I used to be world traveler’s and dreamed of traveling with our son. It is heart-breaking to think that our child will not get to experience the world, or if he does it may cost him his life. What about when he gets older and his job requires him to fly across the country in a weekend? Should he have to risk his life so he can work in his possible future dream job? This is a disability, no question about it. We are talking about being in the air with peanut particles being circulated through the cabin and possible no place to land for hours. An Epi-Pen only last 15 minutes. Peanut allergy is unpredictable. The first reaction could be mild and the second could cause your blood pressure to drop like a rocket, your throat to close up and your heart to stop beating. Yes, we carry Epi-pens everywhere we go, but even 10 wouldn’t be enough on an airplane. I know that airplane or not you could be somewhere where peanuts are opened. The point is, you can’t leave an airplane and get away from the peanut dust. You can leave other areas and get away from it. Also, we do not chose to be anywhere we know there will be a lot of people eating peanuts, like ball games or restaurants that have them on the floor of their establishments. It’s not going to cost you your job if you choose not to go to a ball game or certain restaurant. It will if you keep refusing to travel and the job requires that. I don’t know anyone who will DIE if they don’t have peanuts/peanut dust, but I know plenty of people who would DIE if they do have peanuts or breathe in peanut dust. I support a ban on all peanuts and peanut products on airplanes and an announcement to all passengers asking them to refrain from eating peanut products during the flight.

    6/16/2010 05:28

    As a parent of a child with severe life-threatening allergies to peanuts and tree-nuts, the thought of getting on an airplane today is frightening. So much so, that it is strictly avoided. It is not worth risking my child’s life to fly on an airplane. A recent study reveals that 1 in 3 airplane reactions was anaphylaxis (Allergic Living Magazine). I don’t like those odds. The substitution of cashews, walnuts, or other tree nuts is not a viable option, as they pose the same risks as peanuts. A large number of people who are allergic to peanuts are also allergic to tree nuts, plus they are typically processed in a plant that also processes peanuts. If there were a ban on peanut and tree nut products on flights, it would open the world to my son. He didn’t choose to be allergic, but he is. I like the comment about not knowing anyone who would die if they DIDN’T have a peanut. So true. We are not talking about sensitivity, being offended, not liking the smell, etc.; we are talking about life. There are a lot of things that are banned from airplanes that can cause death to someone. In the case of my son, a peanut can have the same result. I urge the DOT to issue the ban, and make traveling safe for everyone.

    6/16/2010 15:41

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, AllergyDad.

    How do you think a ban on peanuts in flight should work? Would it be a good idea to ban peanut product sales throughout the airport? If a complete ban is not feasible (in that people might bring peanut products onto the plane on their own), what other measures might the DOT take to ensure the safety of allergic passengers?

    6/16/2010 15:51

    Thanks for your input, FoodAllergyMom.

    You raise an interesting point about the costs of peanut allergies. If otherwise productive members of society cannot work due to allergies, there might be more general effects on economic efficiency.

    Do you, or do any of our commenters on either side of the issue have any economic data relating to lost productivity due to peanut allergies? It would be useful to the discussion and to DOT to know what the full current costs of peanuts on planes, and the benefits that may be realized by banning them.

    6/18/2010 17:20

    First, stop reading that propaganda magazine. Publications like that only serve to create fear in minds like yours. Second, how old is your kid? If under 5, relax the sensitivity will probably go away by the time he is 5. Third, go to a real doctor – not an allergist and see if there is really even a problem at all. This supposed plague of food allergies is the result of very clever advertising by this profession of pseudo-scientists. Allergists are not doctors.

    6/18/2010 17:15

    I sincerely doubt you “know plenty of people who will die if they do have peanuts or breathe in peanut dust”. Almost no-one is actually that allergic. Lot’s of people think they are much worse off than they really are.

    6/18/2010 17:08

    Methinks you have an agenda. Highly suspicious that the child of a physician who is hyper aware of bad things that can happen coincidentally has not one, but three life threatening allergies. Have you heard of Munchasen by Proxy? Do you realize that most kids have mild reactions to various food items that they invariably grow out of by the age of 5? Food allergies have to be the most overblown imagined health problem of our time. Hypochondriacs all.

    8/5/2010 10:23

    jsoodi – You have one major perception in your post, “Peanut allergy is common,”. It is NOT common. It affects somewhere between .6 and 1.5% of the US population and “severe” reactions are far more rare then that.

6/16/2010 06:27

I personally have suffered from peanut allergies for over 40 years. If there are packaged peanuts served on board a flight, it’s 100% guaranteed that I will have a reaction from the peanut dust. I do not agree with a buffer zone for a couple of reasons. For me, it’s the dust in the air. Someone posted that the air circulates peanut dust right out of the air but apparently not quick enough to prevent a life threatening reaction. You know, airlines tried to create non-smoking zones on airplanes but that didn’t work either. I have been on flights where nasty (and do I mean NASTY) flight attendants have made sarcastic remarks about me and my allergies especially on one Delta flight. Northwest was great because they respected their passengers enough to address their concerns and prohibited peanuts altogether. It was as much a relief to walk onto one of their flights as it was to walk onto one of the first smoke free flights! Smokers use to use the same logic and reasoning to justify smoking on flights as these peanut proponents are using now. I flew on many smoking flights and never needed to inject myself so that I could breathe – I can’t say the same for flights with peanuts.

    6/16/2010 15:24

    Thanks for your input, kateinhawaii.

    The comparison between non-smoking flights and peanut-free flights is an interesting one.

    Beyond the fact that smoking has been showing to cause a plethora of health problems for all people, why do you that some airlines have banned smoking but not peanuts? Do you think that banning or restricting peanuts can be left to the airlines, with those airlines seeking to attract peanut-allergy sufferers, and thereby increase business, or would more direct government action be necessary, along the lines of a smoking ban?

    6/18/2010 21:18

    The airline industry can not be left to self-monitor this. Studies have shown that the quality of information from airline customer service department is highly variable and, in some cases,
    incomplete or inaccurate. The psychological effects of this, combined with the risk of death, are significant. Stories told by families of vacations never taken, of mid-air retraction of the promise by the airline that peanuts would not be served, of public humiliation of peanut-allergic individuals and their family by airline staff, and of serious reactions in flight, abound.

smr
6/17/2010 00:27

Frankly, I am horrified at the negative attitudes and comments from people who feel their rights are being taken away should peanuts (& tree nuts, please) be banned from flights. Perhaps they should be made to watch a person in a true anaphylactic situation.

I have a granddaughter who has multiple food allergies including peanuts and tree nuts. Her parents do a wonderful job of making sure that her surroundings are as safe as possible, providing appropriate food, and carrying all of the medications my granddaughter might need. The whole family absolutely accepts that these precautions are our responsibility.

However, when one is on an aircraft one does not have the option of pulling the emergency cord to stop the flight so that one can get to a hospital. This is the reason why a total ban on peanut products needs to be made.

We have all been on flights where it is obvious that the cleaning crew did not have time to do a thorough job on the areas that can be seen. How often are filters changed? Probably not often enough to remove airborn allergens.

Our home airport is a Delta hub. Delta does not believe in peanut free flights. Jet Blue does not fly here. Flying other companies means making at least one, and frequently two, changes of plane thus making the travel time unduly long and stressful. Whoever is sitting next to my granddaughter cannot risk falling asleep in case she should have a reaction and not be able to self-inject – she is eight years old.

The Food Allergy Initiative states: “The prevalence of peanut and tree nut allergies tripled in children in the United States between 1997 and 2008, according to an FAI-sponsored study conducted by Scott Sicherer, MD, and colleagues at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New York, NY). The study was published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the official journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. “Our research shows that more than 3 million Americans report peanut or tree nut allergies, representing a significant health burden,” said Dr. Sicherer. “The data also emphasize the importance of developing better prevention and treatment strategies.”

When trying to explain the reason for this increase the FAI suggests “Another explanation could be the popularity of roasted peanuts in the U.S. The roasting process appears to alter the peanut protein, making it more likely to trigger an allergy.” Maybe the peanut supporters should put their efforts into making the move towards the healthier snack of raw peanuts (no oil, no salt, no roasting) and see if this will help protect the future youth of America.

    6/17/2010 16:06

    In the late 1990’s the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed that airlines provide peanut-allergic passengers with ‘peanut free’ seating areas. The proposal was denied by congress due to the lack of evidence demonstrating that peanut dust inhalation causes anaphylaxis. Studies have shown that inhalation of peanut dust can cause a reaction for those allergic to peanut, but the reaction is typically restricted to skin and upper-respiratory symptoms and does not usually result in anaphylaxis. That being said, it has been shown that when multiple people are eating peanuts together on an airplane the reaction can be sufficiently serious to require epinephrine. In addition, the dust and residue left from peanuts or peanut products can cause anaphylaxis when transferred to the mouth, nose, or eyes. Since that proposal, according to the Food Allergy Initiative the latest data suggests that food allergies have actually TRIPLED between 1997 and 2008.
    http://www.faiusa.org/?page=Nut_Allergies_on_the_Increase_Says_FAI_Study
    That number is continuing to grow and affect families on a daily basis. My family is one of them, as we have been dealing with my son’s food allergies for many years. My son has never been to a live sporting event. Going to the circus caused hives on his face so we left immediately. He’s reacted when people around us are eating peanut butter cookies. Flying is extremely nerve wracking for our entire family and therefore we limit it as much as possible.
    DOT wants to know how likely it is for a person with peanut allergies to suffer a reaction on a flight. That question is very difficult to answer. According to a recent study by the University of Michigan Division of Allergies and Clinical Immunology, 1 in 3 people that are reacting to nuts or peanuts are suffering from anaphylaxis, so it is happening. (Greenhawt, Self Reported Reactions to Peanuts and Tree Nuts Occurring in Schools and Child Care Centers, Restaurants, and Commercial Aircraft) If my child were to step on to an airplane (say Southwest) with no precautions taken I have no doubt he’d react. How bad would that reaction be? I can’t say because we’ve never let his reactions progress nor would we ever take that chance. Anaphylaxis is a tricky thing because one never knows at what point a reaction will stop or get worse. We take a number of steps to prevent any reactions from occurring- not just when we fly, but every day of his life. While its highly unlikely to have a reaction from smelling something, the chances of having an airborne reaction from the dust of peanuts going into your airways is highly likely, as is the chance that the dust from peanuts or residue from a PB and J sandwich from the passenger before you getting onto an allergic person’s seat and then onto that person’s hands and then into their mouth, nose or eye is also likely.
    There are many plane trips we have not made because it is just too stressful to fly even when we do dose him with Benadryl, wipe down everything around us including the seat belt, cover the seat with a crib sheet, bring our own safe food, and an entire back pack filled with his epi pens (our health insurance is great and we can bring at least 4), Benadryl, inhalers, steroid creams (taking that through security is always fun), and his prescription strength antihistamines. Being prepared has certainly lessened the chance that he’ll have a reaction, but we have still had mystery hives while flying.
    My son has missed out on many plane trips to fly to his grandparent’s house that he watches his sister take because it’s just too dangerous for him. We’ve driven over 5000 miles in the last year alone just to see family- taking 2 days of driving instead of 2 hours of flying.
    As for having epinephrine onboard the plane, that is a great idea. I personally think everyone should carry epi pens because a person can become allergic at any point in their life to a myriad of foods, medicines, and animals. Epinephrine can be a lifesaver, but it isn’t always. If not given before the blood pressure drops there is no way for it to move throughout the body and stop the reaction. There are also cases where the epi pens fail. Once given, the injection may only last 20 minutes before the reaction can start again, only worse.
    I would love for my son to be able to fly without a fear of going into anaphylaxis. I think that any steps that the DOT could take to lessen his reactions would be welcome. In the US, those who suffer from food allergies that can be life-threatening, including peanut allergy, may be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (S. 504) which does prohibit disability-based discrimination.
    We currently try to fly only United because they only serve nuts in first class, but in some cases have had to fly other airlines as well. I have found out that if you make too big of a deal with American Airlines they won’t let you board the plane. I quickly downplayed my son’s allergies and hoped for the best on that flight.
    A buffer zone won’t do a bit of good because the peanut dust can easily travel all over the plane. A person could eat a bag of peanuts and then open the restroom door. My son could then also open the restroom door, rub his eye and have an anaphylactic reaction. I think a ban of all peanuts and nuts (or at least peanuts) would be the safest route for those with peanut allergies. If there are going to be set rules, the easiest thing to do is ban all peanuts and peanut products from being brought onto planes. While this will inconvenience many people I am sure, it should be worth it if it saves even one life.

    And to the poster above, yes, life threatening allergies ARE a disability. The definition of disability is:

    For purposes of nondiscrimination laws (e.g. the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act), a person with a disability is generally defined as someone who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more “major life activities,” (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.

    Breathing is a major life activity.

    6/17/2010 17:51

    Thank you for your comment. The studies that you mentioned are exactly the type of information that the DOT is looking for.

    6/17/2010 21:01

    Except the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act apply to public places and employers who receive federal funds. That means it doesn’t apply to airline passengers.

    Peanut allergies are not a disability; if they were, then everyone who has any allergy would qualify for “protection”.

    You and everyone else who thinks we should ban peanuts and everything else you might have a problem with suffer from worst-case thinking:

    “There’s a certain blindness that comes from worst-case thinking. An extension of the precautionary principle, it involves imagining the worst possible outcome and then acting as if it were a certainty. It substitutes imagination for thinking, speculation for risk analysis, and fear for reason. It fosters powerlessness and vulnerability…”

    6/17/2010 23:15

    Actually, Title III of the The Americans with Disabilities Act applies the same requirement as Title II (state and local government programs)does to certain private entities that own, lease, or operate places of public accommodation. That means that those with disabilities have equal access to public establishments.

    6/19/2010 14:23

    Airlines are not public establishments; they are private enterprise. If we were to adopt that level of thinking, then everyone would qualify as disabled, since nearly everyone has an allergy to something: chocolate, dairy, dust, pollen, etc.

    6/18/2010 17:27

    My hat’s off to you Mr. Mulder (Fox isn’t it?). You seem to be the only voice of reason in this entire thread.

    6/18/2010 17:25

    Food Allergy Initiative – another propaganda piece by the allergists. Your quote above – “our research shows that more than 3 million americans report peanut or tree nut allergies. . . ” You can’t trust what people report, there are MILLIONS of hypochondriacs out there. If you are one of the VERY VERY VERY FEW who actually have a doctor diagnosed serious allergy – DON’T FLY.

    6/19/2010 14:33

    Between the U.S. and Canada, approximately 3.3 million people suffer from peanut and/or tree nut allergies, but a much smaller subset have potentially life-threatening reactions when exposed.

    If these alleged sufferers want to live their lives in fear, they are willfully giving up their right to travel by air or any other method, because the air they breathe anywhere could contain peanut dust, oil, or traces of tree nuts.

    Yet, it seems very peculiar that these self-proclaimed sufferers aren’t dropping dead at work or on the street. Could it possibly be because their world isn’t nearly as dangerous as their over-active imagination would have them believe?

6/17/2010 17:25

If you have a problem, it is up to you to have the solution. I say “if” because the vast majority of supposed food allergies are BS – the paranoid imaginings of overly anxious parents. Has ANYONE ever died from a food allergy on a plane? Didn’t think so. Keep you hands off my peanuts! Peanuts happen to be one of the most nutritious and filling snacks available pound for pound, and peanut products are often the only thing that picky kids will eat. I say again – IF you are really allergic, stay home.

    6/17/2010 18:09

    Any data that you might have about the prevalence or severity of peanut allergies would be useful to the DOT.

    6/17/2010 21:51

    Prevalence information as reported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases –
    http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/foodallergy/understanding/pages/quickfacts.aspx:
    •Food allergy occurs in 6 to 8 percent of children 4 years of age or under, and in 3.7 percent of adults.
    •Allergy to peanuts and tree nuts in the general population is, respectively, 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent, with the rate in children under age 18 (0.8 percent and 0.2 percent) slightly different from adults (0.6 percent and 0.5 percent respectively). These two foods are the leading causes of fatal and near fatal food-allergic reactions.
    •In spite of attempts to avoid allergenic foods, accidental exposures are the major causes of allergic reactions to foods. Over a period of two years, approximately 50 percent of subjects in the United States with food allergy have an allergic reaction to accidental exposure.
    •In the United States, there are approximately 30,000 episodes of food-induced anaphylaxis, associated with 100 to 200 deaths; most deaths occur in adolescents and young adults.
    •Food allergy is the most frequent single cause of emergency room visits for anaphylaxis and accounts for 34 to 52 percent of these visits.

    6/19/2010 14:10

    Not only is there no supporting data for these claims, the claims are from 2006. It takes more than blind recitation of numbers to make a case.

6/18/2010 06:47

Two foods are the leading causes of fatal and near fatal food-allergic reactions: peanuts and tree nuts. Restricting peanuts on airlines – or better, peanuts and tree nuts – is not misguided; it is the only responsible course of action to take.

6/18/2010 15:38

Mulder is right on point. Most food allergies are completely imagined. An overly anxious parent gets it in her head that little jimmy might have had a hive after someone had peanuts in his vicinity, and now he’s “deathly allergic”. Has ANYONE ever actually died on a plane from peanuts (other than by choking on them)? I sincerely doubt it. Peanuts are incredibly nutritious, almost universally enjoyed, and quite filling in a small serving. Simply put, pound for pound there is no better food on the planet. This whole anti-peanut hysteria is ridiculous! Leave my peanuts alone! If you are one of the incredibly rare people that have an actual medically diagnosed severe allergy to this wonderful food, then you better never leave the house because peanuts are everywhere. You certainly should not be flying.

    6/18/2010 20:48

    Is it really possible that all blindly partisan advocates of the peanut in this context eat peanuts and only peanuts? That they are overtaken by such a compulsion to consume peanut while flying that they lose sight of all other priorities? That they are unable to stop using their peanut – the one dragon they can’t put to sleep – to create a sense of pleasure and comfort? These sound like essential symptoms of disordered eating and addiction, which, in all likelihood, derive from some longstanding issues. The remedy is to avoid the substance in question…. “just say ‘no’” to your peanuts.

    Serving/eating peanuts on airplanes has risen to the level of a public health menace, as had tobacco smoking. Again, the only prudent course of action is to require that distribution of peanut on airplanes be discontinued.

    6/19/2010 14:16

    You’re the one who seems to be partisan. Instead of thinking logically about it, you try to deflect blame for your misguided apprehension onto others by insinuating they have a compulsion.

    Serving and eating peanuts is not a public health menace, so you need to get over it. Instead of conflating the possible with the inevitable, you should focus on the reality, which is that the possibility is extremely small. You’re more likely to die from getting hit by a car crossing the street, yet you’re not advocating we ban driving. That’s being a hypocrite.

    6/19/2010 18:53

    Mulder employs a double standard (and double speak) to allow himself to base his case on simple numbers at the same time he argues against them. Sure, his numbers game works if you are not the person suffering an anaphylactic reaction. Look, it is unreasonable and inhuman to expect someone to play this sort of betting game with their life or that of a child – particularly in the restrictive environment of an airplane – when it is established that peanuts and nuts are responsible for most fatal reactions and that incidence of this life-threatening allergy is increasing exponentially. The value of even one human life can not be trivialized, and that is what he is doing.

    Mulder attempts to argue against the discontinuation of peanuts on airplanes by comparing it to the banning of automobile driving, but this analogy is weak in the extreme for several reasons: Exposure to peanuts is more likely to cause an adverse outcome in an allergic person than crossing the street on any given day. Banning automobile driving would be economically and socially disruptive in a way that banning a peanut snack on airplanes would not. There are many alternative snacks available to replace peanuts, but there are few modes of transportation available which could replace automobile driving. (Of course, there are even fewer to replace airline travel.) Automobiles play a significant role in our society, whereas peanuts on airplanes are of comparatively minor importance. His is a bad comparison which should be ignored.

    6/20/2010 15:34

    There’s no double standard at all. You and many others cling to worst-case scenario thinking; whereby you imagine the worst possible outcome and act as if it’s a certainty. Nothing could be more delusional than that.

    No deaths due to anaphylactic shock caused by exposure to peanuts on-board an airliner have been reported in this country, so the possibility that it would happen remains infinitesimally small, though you would rather have everyone believe it’s certain to happen if peanuts are served by airlines.

    Facts are stubborn things, and the fact is that you’re more likely to be hit and killed by a car on any given day, but neither you nor anyone else is advocating that we ban automobiles or driving. Allergies to peanuts or tree nuts are not increasing; there is no scientific data to support such claims. The latest data we have for deaths from anaphylactic shock is 14 people in one year, and if they were all caused by peanut or tree nut allergies, that’s still a very small number. Far more people die in swimming pools every year.

    Contrary to your claim, exposure to peanuts is not more likely to cause anaphylactic shock; it MAY cause that reaction in the worst sufferers. People with that condition know it and need to take responsibility for their condition when traveling by any means, including medication to prevent or reduce the severity of any reaction, face masks, and Epi-pens. If they won’t do that, then they deserve whatever consequences come from their own negligence. It is not society’s responsibility to be burdened with their condition.

    Even if peanuts could be banned from airliners, that would not remove the risk, since peanut dust, oils, and parts are already embedded in the aircraft, even though you can’t see it.

6/20/2010 15:19

Could we show some compassion here? First of all, peanut allergies are real and can be deadly. There are numerous accounts of allergic people accidentally ingesting peanut products and dying. I’m sure the airlines is aware of the potential lawsuit in that. Beyond that, it is not a hardship for passengers to go without peanuts for a few hours on an airplane. Peanuts are one out of many, many possible snacks. Why would the airlines want to eliminate or endanger possible customers when they can so simply replace peanuts with something else?

    6/20/2010 19:09

    This has nothing to do with lacking compassion; it has everything to do with coddling people who fear a possibility that is so unlikely. There’s no potential lawsuit threat here, because airlines are not liable for your medical condition or your refusal to take precautions against it.

    Numerous accounts of people dying from peanut allergies? Nonsense. Cite the confirmed reports if you want to be taken seriously.

    If you think it’s not a hardship for other passengers to be denied peanuts based on the very small minority of peanut allergy sufferers, then it’s not a hardship for you to take responsibility for your own well being, no matter the form of transportation.

    Instead, you want others to cater to your whims and unfounded fears. If you want peanuts to be replaced with “something else”, what are you going to do about the people who are allergic to some ingredient in that “something else” you reference, but decline to name?

6/20/2010 22:11

Mulder’s tiresome objections are replete with contradictions. He claims that an aircraft, particularly the air in an aircraft, is virtually pristine, and then he says, “Even if peanuts could be banned from airliners, that would not remove the risk, since peanut dust, oils, and parts are already embedded in the aircraft, even though you can’t see it.” You are most gracious. Use of statistics is acceptable for him, but no one else. He defines facts as only those distortions that support his selfish position. He uses false analogies that no one in their right mind would accept. He challenges those with life-threatening allergies to take charge of their own situation, but precludes the very possibility, as he uses countless fallacies and ad hominem attacks on all those who try to do so.

Name the horse you have in this race. Will impending doom befall it if it does not have peanuts? Might its respiration, its circulation, fail if it does not have a peanut? Might it expire?? Is it a father? Is it a child?

Apart from Howie, even those who might enjoy peanuts can understand the need to make some accommodation in this particular situation.

The motives of those supporting accommodations for travelers with life-threatening peanut allergies is pure – to safeguard life. The motives of those opposing is also clear – to dig their heels in over some ultra-libertarian point that their supposed right to a particular snack despite the immediate risk it may pose to others in a closed aircraft at 35,000 feet in the air outweighs the right of those with life-threatening allergies to be safe from harm.

The Mulder does ask, albeit obliquely, if there is a snack that would be acceptable to everyone with a food allergy. So, if we begin by considering a snack free from the top 8 food allergens (which would also protect celiacs), then the answer is yes. This can certainly be done.

    6/21/2010 15:47

    It seems that Antanagoge is one with ad hominem attacks and false statements. Nobody said the aircraft or the air was pristine; it is much cleaner than most public buildings. That doesn’t preclude the fact that peanuts and their remnants are already embedded in the various nooks and crannies of the aircraft and the seat fabrics.

    The only people who seem to be “digging in their heels” are those who think that life can and should be risk free. That’s a delusional state of mind. Facts are facts and you can’t change them, even though you’d like to do that, and ignore them.

    Nobody has died on-board a U.S. airliner from anaphylaxis brought on by peanut allergies, yet you would have everyone believe that such a fate is certain for everyone who has the potential for a severe reaction. You also argue that people should not be responsible for their own welfare by taking the appropriate precautions to deal with their allergy; that everyone else should be responsible for them.

    There is no snack that would satisfy everyone with a food allergy; The top 8 food allergens are not the only ones, so the only true solution would be to ban all food or snacks on all flights.

    Instead of living in your fantasy world of no risk, learn to take responsibility for your condition, like most of the population. If you’re unwilling to do that, don’t expect anyone else to do it for you.

6/20/2010 22:42

My son is allergic to peanuts. The last time we flew on an airline that served peanuts (Southwest) we called ahead and requested that no peanuts be served on our flight. The airline was extremely accommodating, but there were peanuts on the floor and between the seats from earlier flights. For that reason, I don’t see banning peanuts on specific flights or a peanut-free buffer zone as real solutions. We now only fly airlines that don’t serve peanuts. We’re okay with Snickers because the peanuts are less likely to get spilled. However, this wouldn’t be a good solution for those with an inhalation allergy. Maybe the ban could extend to all foods when there is a specific request.

    6/21/2010 15:50

    Since there’s no reason to ban peanuts to begin with, the only thing you’d accomplish by banning all food is to have a large number of cranky, hungry passengers on longer flights. Not exactly a good way to engender customer loyalty or goodwill.

    6/22/2010 13:48

    Mulder, I like peanuts, but I don’t consider it my right to have airlines serve them to me. I don’t think they need to. Plenty of times I’m not thrilled with what I am offered so I usually bring my own. I think some of this is just outrage that someone dare put a regulation on something. But I don’t think passengers should be banned from bringing peanut products on the flight. There’s a compromise that can be struck.

    6/22/2010 18:39

    Thanks to Mulder and mcs24 for this dialogue. Is there anyone else who has an idea for a compromise between full allowance and an outright ban on peanuts?

    6/22/2010 13:46

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with banning airlines from serving bagged peanuts. It’s an unnecessary risk and you’d think they would have caught onto that already. Banning passengers from bring their own peanut containing products (i.e. snickers or things with peanut oil) is probably too far, although peanut allergy people should be given the ability to not sit near that person. It seems like a fair compromise.

    6/22/2010 14:29

    There is indeed plenty wrong with the very idea that airlines should be banned from serving peanuts. Not only does it shift responsibility for the problems of a very small minority of people onto others, but it also accomplishes nothing, as peanuts and pieces of them are already on-board the aircraft.

    At the same time, there is negligible risk to peanut allergy sufferers, as evidenced by the data.

    6/22/2010 15:13

    There is indeed something wrong with banning peanuts on airlines. Despite the unfounded fears of certain death if they’re exposed to peanuts, no one has died from anaphylaxis from exposure to peanuts, peanut dust, or peanut oil on-board a U.S. airliner.

    6/22/2010 15:44

    Are we talking about airlines not providing peanuts, or peanuts not being allowed on an airplane? These are two VERY different issues. I would be indifferent to rules preventing airlines from serving peanuts (actually, I would welcome it, because I like the crackers better!). People who want peanuts can bring their own, easily enough. Should people be banned from bringing their own peanuts? No. And honestly, people would be more effective using market forces to convince airlines to change their menus.

    I do have a cousin who legitimately goes into anaphylactic shock at exposure to peanuts. It’s not a joking matter; I would guess we have fewer complications because people with peanut issues don’t fly. But this is a minority, and I would not support a ban on peanuts existing on an airplane. but do we really need airlines to serve peanuts? This reaction isn’t actually about peanuts at all.

    6/22/2010 18:21

    Thanks for your input, mcs24. If airlines were banned from serving peanuts, do you think it would be ideal for them to advertise that fact, so as to reduce the likelihood of people bringing peanuts onto the plane?

    6/23/2010 04:18

    From what I understand about your description of the flight . . . your son flew with peanuts wedged in the seat and on floor . . . and was fine? Assuming he’s not going to eat a peanut off the floor or someone’s seat, I don’t see why you feel the need to have peanuts banned. Your son obviously can handle the flight.

6/21/2010 15:56

Broadly – Under the ADA, most, if not all, Americans would be classified as having a disability. That’s unfortunate, because the language is so loose as to undermine those that actually do have disabilities.

More narrowly, the few good recent studies have shown that of those that self report having food allergies, less than 5% actually do. Many so-called allergies are based on immunoglobbulin response, though we know that that is a poor predictor of an actual allergy. Because few parents want to put their kids through the gold-standard of testing, a blind oral food challenge, we are now left with the current situation, where an overwhelming majority of supposed allergies are unfounded, a general public is tired of coddled masses, and the few but life-threatening cases are being minimized by a jaded populace.

Allergies (and other disabilities) need to be diagnosed using gold-standard testing and rigorous science.

    6/21/2010 16:39

    Thanks for your comment. There’s been quite a bit of back and forth going on regarding ADA classifications and research regarding food allergies. If you (or anyone else here) have any links to these studies, it might be worth sharing so everyone (not to mention the DOT) can dig into the data a bit more.

    6/21/2010 19:06

    Food allergy is generally considered a disability under 504, ADA, and the ACAA (Air Carrier Access Act). There have been a number of settlements by which the Attorney General has authorized civil action to enforce title III of the ADA against businesses which have discriminated against food-allergic children. In the matter at hand, the ACAA pertains: Title 14, Chapter II, Part 382, which provides for “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel.” An important point is that discontinuation of serving peanuts on airplanes does not cause a fundamental alteration in the nature of airplane transport, does not undermine safe operation of the business, and does not cause any direct threat to the health or safety of others. (The reverse is true: peanuts post a direct threat to the health and safety of a growing number of travelers with life-threatening peanut allergies.) Just like it is easy for a restaurant to omit an ingredient from a menu item, it is easy for an airline to omit peanuts from its snack offering. Making it possible for customers with disabilities – among them, peanut allergies – to purchase airline travel is an important part of complying with Title 14, Chapter II, Part 382.

    6/21/2010 19:24

    Once again, Antanagoge misrepresents the facts. Allergies are not considered a disability. If they were, the entire population would qualify as disabled.

    Since nobody has died on a U.S. airline from an allergy to peanuts or tree nuts, it is safe and accurate to say that the risk is extremely small. Even smaller is the risk that the plane would crash, yet people like Antanagoge aren’t proposing that we ban air travel due to that possibility. That’s the definition of a hypocrite.

    Peanut do not pose any direct threat to the health or safety of anyone, and there has been no increase in peanut allergies, despite what Ananagoge and groups such as FAAN would like everyone to believe.

    People with peanut allergies are responsible for their own well-being. That means taking Benadryl before boarding a plane, having it with you while flying as well as Epi-pens if prescribed for your specific condition, and wearing a face mask if you’re so afraid of certain death from peanut dust being in the air.

    If you choose to live your life in fear over imagined risks, you’ve already given up your right to travel anywhere, by any means.

    6/21/2010 20:01

    Mulder, once again you are absolutely correct. All the hyper-emotional arguments aside, the simple fact is, NOT ONE PERSON HAS EVER DIED FROM A PEANUT ON AN AIRPLANE!!! So, if you are so risk averse that you want to ban peanuts due to the extremely remote possibility that someone could actually be injured by one, then you really shouldn’t be flying, as planes do occasionally crash. For that matter you shouldn’t drive, walk in public, eat any kind of food, or breath the air, as each of these activities has a higher chance of injuring someone than ingesting a peanut. This is not some ‘hyper-libertarian’ matter of principle. If we allow the foolish paranoia of the uninformed masses make these decisions, what’s next? Should we be strip searched and made to fly naked to ensure that no offending food items are brought aboard? How about including a forced shower so there are no offensive personal odors or perfumes? We should probably all submit to being anesthetized so that no one becomes unruly in transit. How did that verse from the holocaust go? First they came for the jews, then the shopkeepers, etc., then they came for me. And because I said nothing when they came for the Jews, now no one will say anything for me. Well, its time to make a stand NOW. Just say no to foolish regulation and supposed risk avoidance. Life is a RISK. The biggest risk is that of getting old and finding that you never really lived. Most food allergies are bunk. Peanuts do not kill ANYONE. Don’t try to tell me what I can and cannot eat.

    6/21/2010 21:56

    The disability characterization is for severe food allergies because reactions can compromise essential body functions, like circulation and respiration (not for hay fever or seasonal allergies as some on this board ridicule).

    Consider when factoring the number of fatalities due to anaphylaxis that have occurred in connection with travel on airlines the fact that many peanut-allergic people have avoided flying because of the risk peanut service poses to them.

    Comparisons of the potential for allergic reaction to the likelihood of plane crashes or car crashes or lightning bolts are patently ridiculous.

    Some on this board persist in denying the results of peer-reviewed research studies conducted by the world’s leading experts on food allergy and anaphylaxis. Instead, they falsely imply authority for themselves. This should be transparent to everyone.

    There is no dispute that the primary responsibility of managing one’s allergy lies with the passenger (or passenger’s family). That means keeping medications at hand and taking all measures to practice strict avoidance – including seeking the reasonable accommodation of discontinuing distribution of peanuts by the airline, as this results in hazards over which the most responsible individual has little control.

    6/22/2010 13:51

    What, exactly, are the results of peer-reviewed research on the incidence and severity of peanut allergies? Hourihane et al (1997. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol 100, p 596-600) conducted a gold-standard test (double blind, placebo controlled food challenge) with varying doses of peanut flour – on people previously identified as having strong peanut allergies. The results were ambiguous: some folks reacted with higher does (consistent with ingesting peanut products); none reacted at very low doses; some self-reported reactions to placebos (which they shouldn’t); and some known to have peanut allergies reported no reaction to high peanut doses. In another paper, (British Medical Journal 1997) the same author found that peanut oil poses little risk to patients with known peanut allergies. Many other papers have found (e.g. Perry et al 2004; Sampson et al 1997) have shown that those with positive reactions to the food challenge are significantly less than those with positive skin prick reactions (which other studies have shown is in turn less than those that self report peanut allergy). I don’t know of a single study that has shown that airborne peanut matter can cause a severe reaction (maybe one is out there; if so, can someone post the citation). In short, the available research shows that confirmed allergies are much less common than folks think, and even people with “known” allergies fail to respond to food challenges. I think the DOT needs to consider this very carefully when deciding whether to ban peanuts from flights. Do the data really support such a decision? It doesn’t appear so.

    6/22/2010 15:03

    If we are to believe the claims of
    Antanagoge, then everyone is disabled. But his arguments are deeply flawed. Allergies are not disabilities. People with spinal cord injuries, missing limbs, brain damage, and other abnormal birth defects are disabled; allergy sufferers are not. Disabled people aren’t looking for pity, and we shouldn’t grant pity to allergy sufferers, either.

    The argument that nobody has died due to anaphylaxis on-board a U.S. airline because they avoid flying due to the risk of an allergic reaction is preposterous and unsupported by any data.

    Comparisons of anaphylaxis to other risks is completely valid. The fact that Antanagoge and others would like to ignore them illustrates their mindset perfectly: assuming the worst possible outcome is a certainty, even in the face of scientific data showing it to be extremely rare and unlikely.

    Despite Antanagoge’s implied claim, there is no peer-reviewed research that shows anything but the fact that peanut allergies are much less widespread and severe than FAAN would like everyone to believe. If he thinks there’s contrary data, he should cite it and provide a link to the full text.

    Not being able to serve peanuts on-board an airliner because of a very few who think they’re doomed if they’re exposed to peanuts is not a reasonable accommodation, it’s a form of terrorism. Trying to frighten everyone else into bending to your will, thus reinforcing your unfounded beliefs and fears.

    There’s no inconvenience to peanut allergy sufferers to not eat peanuts, but there is an inconvenience to everyone else if they can’t be served peanuts (or any other food which someone may be allergic to), or even have their own.

    Antanagoge says he believes each individual must take responsibility for managing their condition, but then he tries to shift that responsibility on to other passengers by claiming that banning peanuts is a reasonable accommodation. No, it’s not.

    That’s hypocrisy.

6/22/2010 16:50

We have all seen it, the person boarding the plane with the carry on bag loaded with food. How are you going to control what they bring on the plane? I’ve seen these people bring buffets on the plane with them and you can’t control where this was prepared or purchased.

6/22/2010 17:00

I travel on a plane almost every week, mostly domestic and occasionally internationally. I find the proposed rules solutions! Our society is one of tolerance and acceptance provided my issues, problems, conditions don’t infringe upon others rights. Flying is not a constitutional right it is an opportunity which one may choose to participate in or not. To single one group of individuals out for “protection” at the cost to all others is wrong.

If we are going down this road I would suggest other regulations as well:

Why should mobility restricted people be allowed on planes, when in an emergency they will restrict the flow of people leaving the aircraft?

Why should over weight people be allowed on the aircraft once again endangering everyone flying?

What about the passengers who bathe in perfume, don’t they cause problems for people with allergies?

What about the folks who smell so bad they cause passengers around them to get physically sick?

How about people who are ill? I have flown into China during SARS and Mexico during the H1N1 outbreak, can you mandate a “germ free zone for me”?

After flying for over 8 million miles I have seen all of the conditions I describe above. As a trauma nurse I have been called upon over 10 times to provide critical medical services in flight but I have never seen a peanut reaction.

To mandate a “peanut-free buffer zone around a passenger” goes against everything our country stands for (Independence, Freedom of Choice, Pursuit of happiness, and prohibition of the federal government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law)

    6/22/2010 19:02

    As a fellow air traveler, I agree with some of the points you are making… there are some standards that people should abide by while flying on a plane. However, that is not the issue at hand– peanuts on the plane are. While I don’t always enjoy peanuts while flying, I don’t believe they should be banned outright. I think that people who suffer from severe peanut allergies should seriously consider the possibility of peanuts being aboard planes, and should carry the appropriate medications should they be affected by an allergy. If the airlines want to regulate this, I believe that creating a few dedicated planes to serve as “peanut-free” flying experiences are an acceptable alternative to completely banning peanuts and peanut products on planes. It is not the responsibility of the government, however, to regulate the presence or absence of foods on planes. We have bigger issues for the government to handle, such as the aforementioned air safety issues of bringing incendiary devices on planes.

    6/22/2010 20:07

    Do we next ask for a “child-free” environment as well on planes for those who don’t want to be bothered by someone’s screaming kids?

6/22/2010 17:28

What many people who are supporting a ban are forgetting (or omitting) is if someone has such a severe peanut allergy that a reaction occurs when breathing or touching something else that has been contaminated (ie cross-contamination), then *all* aircrafts that have ever had peanuts aboard are contaminated. Banning future peanuts doesn’t change that cross-contamination is already in place and it’s already a life-threatening environment. What is the solution… replace all aircrafts? Not feasible. I, too, suffer from a life-threatening food allergy; but I do not expect the world to change for me. I adjust to the world; if I think there’s a chance that I will be exposed to my food “poison,” I don’t go there. It’s inconvenient and sometimes a hardship for me, but I’m the one with the allergy. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in this world. Even if peanuts are banned, what is to prevent one passenger from having a bag on his/her person and coming aboard? Will that person be criminally charged if someone has a reaction? Will they be sued? Probably. The problem is that banning peanuts alone won’t make life on a plane safer; it’ll only be as safe as fellow passengers or airline staff taking precautions for the risk and, frankly, those who don’t have or know anyone who has life-threatening allergies have no idea how easily cross-contamination can occur. As someone with such an allergy, there’s no way I would place my trust for my life on strangers to take precautions for my allergy. Banning isn’t a real solution; finding a cure is.

    6/22/2010 22:12

    There already is a cure; it just isn’t available yet.

6/22/2010 17:48

I have had a nut allergy for my whole life and I am not just allergic to peanuts. I am actually allergic to all nuts. I can say from personal travel experience that when people eat nuts on an airplane I feel uncomfortable. I don’t have an airborne allergy but I don’t like the smell of peanuts being eaten around and in close proximity to me, especially when the air is being recirculated as it is in an airplane. I feel that airlines should strive to create the best experience possible and I don’t see how they can do that when I sit in my seat and try to hold my breath for as long as possible in order to avoid the horrible smell of nuts. On a side note, the fact that they only serve peanuts is extremely inconvenient for me because then there is no food for me to eat as I am allergic to it. I think that an overall ban on all nuts and nut products on airlines should be implemented. It would be the easiest and most effective option. I don’t think it should matter that airlines are private companies. That shouldn’t be a deciding factor on whether or not they have to deal with people’s problems. Additionally, there are plenty of other snacks that can be offered on planes. For example, jet blue offers a wide variety of options like chips. Airlines are extremely inconsiderate when it comes to nut allergies. I am very cautious and so are my parents but I have had problems on flights even though we called in advance to make sure that they knew I had an allergy. In one instance, I was served a meal on a Lufthansa flight that actually had nuts in it after we had called them multiple times to tell them to have a separate meal prepared for me. That’s just careless behavior that could have resulted in a very severe reaction had I not taken my medication in time. I think a buffer zone would be ineffective because I can smell people eating nuts even when they are not next to me. I hope that something is done to eliminate nuts for airplanes so that others don’t have to go through the awful experiences I have had.

    6/22/2010 17:59

    I appreciate your circumstance. But because you don’t like the smell of nuts, we can’t go instituting bans on foods. I don’t like the smell of fast food – does that mean there needs to be a ban on people bringing McD’s on board? As for food options, pack you own. I do. I bring my own snacks. People with severe metabolic conditions like PKU travel with their own food. Bring a bag of pretzels. Raisins. Whatever. It sounds like your “awful” experiences have not resulted in any allergic reactions. Bans on foods should be based exclusively on research. Not on people feeling uncomfortable around certain foods. Because if that’s what regulations are based on, then there will soon be nothing served on any flight – and I don’t think that’s what anyone wants. Again, I hope the DOT seriously considers actual research when making regulations.

    6/22/2010 18:10

    Thanks for the input, steyermark. The comparison to phenylketonuira (PKU) is an interesting one. Do you have any information on the prevalence of PKU that you could share with us, so that we can discuss the relationship between PKU and allergies?

    6/22/2010 19:41

    The incidence of PKU is low – about 1 in 30,000. But when you combine all the inborn metabolic conditions that require special diets (including PKU, CF, aminoacidemias, etc.) the incidence is much higher. Consider also diabetes. Consider other conditions, such as hypertension (knocks out pretzels as potential snacks). The point is, there are a lot of people that have special dietary restrictions. Not being able to eat a specific food shouldn’t preclude that food from being served – it just means that those folks need to bring their own. The real issue is, how real is the threat of inhaled peanut dust. Again, I have seen no study that has shown it to be a real threat (but that doesn’t mean such a study doesn’t exist). That should be the main criteria for the DOT decision. As a side note – would such a decision mean I could not bring my own trail mix or PBJ sandwich on board? Could a passenger be prevented from bringing any food that potentially contains nuts? What the airlines do is meaningless if passengers start bringing their own on.

    6/22/2010 22:37

    Air is not recirculated on airplanes. That’s a myth that you need to stop clinging to in order to rationalize your desire for a ban on nuts. It’s a tired, old excuse, but it doesn’t work.

    So JetBlue serves chips. Do you mean potato chips? Did you consider that some people are allergic to potatoes? What about the type of oil used to cook those chips: Peanut oil, or Corn oil? Whichever it is, people are allergic to both, so that means you can’t serve that as a snack to some people, too.

    And down the slippery slope we go. So, can you figure out which mystery food can be served as a snack on-board an airliner that somebody isn’t allergic to? Good luck with that.

6/22/2010 18:33

My asthma is severe enough to kill me and has been since I was a child. I’ve had more than one attack mid-flight due to various irritants (namely, ladies perfume), but there’s a reason I haven’t died on an airplane due to an asthma attack – my parents never took me on a plane without an inhaler, and as an adult, I bring one with me on flights. I would never ask for or support a ban against perfumes on airplanes because I know that my and my children’s personal health and wellbeing are my responsibility. Parents that travel with highly allergic children, and traveling adults with high risk allergies, should carry the appropriate first-aid (epi-pen / Benadryl) and should make their own decisions about how to protect themselves and/or their children from peanut exposure rather than telling the 99% of Americans without peanut allergies what they can and can’t eat on an airplane. If the airlines value the business lost to families or individuals that don’t fly because peanuts are served then the airlines will take the appropriate measures to capture that lost revenue by offering peanut free flights. This is not a government issue, and apart from preventing the airlines from purchasing and serving peanuts there’s no way to enforce a government ban of peanuts on planes. Are you planning on searching passengers as they board? Are we adding peanuts to the list of items that have to be placed in a clear plastic bag as we are herded like cattle through airport security lines?

You know what we’re all allergic to? Bombs on planes. How about we spend the tax dollars being wasted on this issue more appropriately and use those dollars to better secure our airports. Once we’ve solved that minor nuisance, we can move on to the more important issues like peanut allergies.

If the government really considers peanut allergies a disability prone to discriminatory practices, let the government set the example by adding peanut allergies to the Americans with Disabilities Act, therefore banning peanuts from all public buildings. If they’re willing to do that, maybe I’ll leave my PB&J sandwich at the gate next time I fly.

Seriously, I can’t believe you all are wasting our tax dollars on this. We’re 11 trillion dollars in debt. It kills me to think this study threw another million-plus on the pile.

6/22/2010 20:13

Really, I just have one question: Does anyone here actually know of a confirmed report of one person actually dying from a peanut? I’m not talking about ‘almost’ died, I mean an actual funeral? Didn’t think so. Nuff said.

    6/22/2010 20:41

    An estimated (by the medical profession) 125 to 150 deaths occur in the United States every year due to food-related anaphylaxis. About 2/3rds of those are thought to be caused by peanuts. Given that peanut allergy is by far the most prevalent of the food allergies, that proportion would make sense. The question is not if anyone has died from ingestion of peanuts. Clearly, the answer is yes, and that has been proven. The question at hand is whether that merits somehow banning peanuts from air travel. The greater question is, have there been proven cases of severe anaphylaxis from the inhalation of peanut dust? Though perhaps the ultimate question is, then should those few people that have legitimate concerns simply not fly?

    6/23/2010 05:06

    Howie, you really need to try out this “Google” thing sometime! It answer silly questions like “Does anyone here actually know of a confirmed report of one person actually dying from a peanut?” You’ll find multiple reports from reputable news outlets, even links to some newspaper articles (you’ve heard of newspapers, right?). Seriously, try it out buddy.

6/22/2010 20:34

I find this interesting that DOT/FAA would talk about something that affect only one (1) percent of whole population who are allergic to peanut. On other hand, the DOT/FAA has not demonstrate any improvement or collaborate with National Association of the Deaf (nad.org) to improve subtitle / captioning on ALL TV programming, entertainment, and on everything that are being shown in any aircraft. Right now – the only thing is captioned is safety. With this inaccessibility to deaf, hard of hearing, and other people who depends on subtitle represent ten (10) percent of whole population. I know this awareness had brought on to DOT/FAA and many of other airlines carriers about this for years as I recalled my first complaint was back in early 1990′s – nothing has been done about it. Now a peanut had gotten your attention – its a peanut issue in oppose to accessibility issue where lots of deaf and hard of hearing people pay same amount of air fare tickets as all other people and nothing has been done about it. We need a solution here in regards to accessibility.

    6/22/2010 21:07

    The issues are not opposed, so why create that false choice? Fatalities are associated with food allergies and anaphylaxis, and that merits attention. Nicer approach would have been to work together.

6/22/2010 21:14

No, peanuts and peanut products should not be banned, just like other foods such as wheat (which is in more products than people without allergies may know) isn’t and shouldn’t be banned. The federal government should not force commercial airlines to accommodate 1% of the population when there are already airlines that will make accommodations if requested in advance.

There are a couple of things that seem to me to be viable options:
1) Airlines offer multiple flights per day to the most popular destinations – they could possibly designate one specific flight per day on these popular routes to be “allergen free” and exclude not only peanuts, but other allergens that can be transmitted through the air or by contact.
2)It seems that this would be a perfect opportunity for someone or some airline to captialize on starting a smaller airline to specifically cater to “allergen free” flights. It’s been done for other niche markets with moderate success, so why not this one?

6/22/2010 21:17

As I understand it, the DOT considers peanut allergies to fall under the ADA because peanut dust in the air can cause an allergic reaction leading to an inability to breathe, clearly a “substantial limiting” of a “major life activity” as defined by the ADA and successive court decisions.

While banning peanuts is a solution, given the high volume of sales the peanut industry derives from the airlines, this particular solution would seem to place an undue burden on the peanut industry. While airlines may choose to no longer carry peanuts that would be a decrease in revenue for the peanut industry because of market forces. If the airlines are forced to do so, the government, through its application of the ADA, would be placing a rather large financial burden on the peanut industry, and, more importantly, the workers who are laid off and their families.

While creating “by-request” flights that are peanut-free is also a solution to the initial problem, this would seem to both place an undue burden on and/or lead to a fundamental alteration of services for the airlines. If someone requests a peanut free flight after most of the seats have been booked by persons under the impression that their flight was normal, wouldn’t the airlines then be obligated to let the original passengers know the conditions of their flight had been changed? It would seem that changing the nature of a flight, once booked, could be legally construed as a breach of the contract created by the purchase of the ticket. If those customers, whether through fondness of peanuts or disdain for this particular regulation, refused to accept a seat on a “peanut free” flight, imagine the chaos as the airlines attempted to place passengers on flights to the same destination, leaving and arriving at the same time as the one initially booked, but NOT designated “peanut free”. After all, air travel is not usually the end, but simply a means. Once flights are booked, other plans tend to be made. If certain flights were always designated “peanut free” or if “peanut free” flights had to be requested before anyone else booked seating, those with allergies would have to accept a much more limited option in flight choice or plan to fly FAR in advance of the average traveler, hardly acceptable under ADA guidelines, or the airlines would be forced to significantly increase the amount of flights flown each day in order to ensure that there were enough flights of both types to meet everyone’s needs. If the airlines chose the latter, this would be an undue burden, and any of the three would require the airlines to fundamentally alter the way they operate.

Creating buffer zones, while arguably acceptable by ADA standards, unfortunately does not guarantee the safety of those allergic to peanuts and may even further endanger them. Unless the buffer-zones were tightly sealed and reliant on their own independent air system (which raises questions of burden), it simply would not be possible to ensure that no dust was blown into the buffer zone by overhead fans or carried through the air system. Worse still to contemplate, but worth mentioning nonetheless, is the unfortunate fact that angry persons may intentionally violate the buffer zone to “punish” those they perceive as receiving preferential treatment or being responsible for a violation of their “rights”. The tone of some of the comments on this site themselves indicate strong feelings against providing such large-scale accommodation for such a small segment of the population, and, as of now, this is merely a hypothetical.

There is, however, a much simpler solution that, frankly, I’m surprised nobody yet has presented: airline provided surgical masks to prevent air born contamination and either thoroughly sanitized seating to prevent skin contact with oils left by previous passengers or, for those who don’t feel secure in sanitization procedure, sealed cleanroom suits available upon request. A quick Google check turned up boxes of 50 medical grade surgical masks for $22, a company named Microarray selling individually sealed cleanroom suits with hood and boots for $27.45 each, and a 40 pack of latex gloves for $6. This provides a cheap and perfectly effective solution to what is, apparently, a very occasional problem. These masks and suits are considered safe enough to avoid contamination in the most sensitive of settings: operating rooms, high technology clean rooms, etc. They should be safe enough to avoid any chance of accidental inhalation or contact with peanut allergens.

While some may not like having to wear a mask or dress in a suit to avoid having an allergic reaction the line has to be drawn somewhere. The ADA requires that persons with disabilities be accommodated but it does NOT require that they be accommodated in a fashionable manner or in a manner identical to the non-disabled. Movie theatres are required to provide handicap accessible seating, but they are not required to provide it anywhere in the theater that a disabled patron may want to sit. This is just my opinion, but I believe that it is better to have a few persons unhappy about wearing a garment than a whole country full of people angry that their ability to eat what they want has been unnecessarily restricted. The only other problem to this solution that I can foresee is young children who take off the mask or who fuss and complain about having to wear them. Fortunately, the solution to this should be with them already; their parents. The safety of a child should always be first and foremost the responsibility of their parent. If a parent has a child with a severe peanut allergy, they should already be used to maintaining vigilance over their child’s safety. In this case, that means making sure the mask is tied on tight or that the child is kept from taking it off. The wonderful and well trained flight attendants on many flights can aid in this by presenting these masks and suits to young children as though they were a rare privilege, just like those plastic flight wings. As for children fussing about their attire, well, if one reads through the comments here, one can conclude that fussing children on an airplane is simply business as usual. As those who are disabled must accept that their accommodations may not be exactly what they desire, those who are not disabled must also accept that sometimes accommodating our disabled brethren requires a bit of sacrifice on our own parts, whether it’s not being able to sit or park in the spot you want, because it’s handicap accessible, or putting up with a fussing child or paying $5 for a headset to drown them out.

    6/22/2010 22:26

    No, the DOT believes SEVERE peanut allergies count as a disability, but their belief means nothing. Congress has the final say as to whether or not they agree and want to continue funding for such a position. A search of Westlaw came up with no Federal court rulings in favor of such a position.

    Banning peanuts isn’t a solution at all, since the aircraft is already contaminated with peanuts, peanut oils, and peanut dust in the fabric of the seats; the only way to get rid of it would be to remove all the seats and the sub-floor and replace them both. That’s not only economically unfeasible for the airline, but the cost per fight would increase dramatically.

    But the fact that the plane is already contaminated and nobody has died from their proclaimed severe peanut allergy is evidence that their condition isn’t nearly as dire and they believe, or that they would have everyone else believe.

    I did suggest wearing masks before, but one particular person ignored that idea, perhaps because they thought the very idea was beneath them, or somehow inconsiderate of their condition. Either way, it’s indicative that they don’t want to take responsibility for their own condition and want society to cater to their fears and prejudices.

    6/23/2010 01:00

    Try a Google search. I very quickly found a link to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America that contends that under both the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974 that allergies and asthma are both recognized disabilities. http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=22&cont=308

    Again, “breathing” is defined as a “major life function” and it’s pretty hard to argue that completely closed airways through anaphylaxis do not constitute a “substantial limiting”. Whether or not the federal government has specifically ruled on this, I don’t know. Did you find any court rulings opposed to this position? If the courts simply haven’t addressed this yet, which, frankly, seems unlikely considering how many organizations and websites I’ve found that reference successful cases of workplace discrimination under the ADA for individuals with allergies, the fact is, when they do, they almost certainly will (or at least should) recognize this as a conditional disability qualifying under the ADA for the reasons above.

    As I understand it, the concern is not over trace amounts of oil and dust that have been absorbed or trapped by fabric, it’s over the clouds of fresh dust that are released when a package is opened and dispersed throughout the plane via the central air system or from the overhead air jets. The oils in the fabric will most likely have been absorbed down below the surface level and the dust trapped by the fabric is unlikely to be dislodged in significant quantities short of someone actively beating the seats as one would a rug. If you’ve ever seen images of fabric through a microscope you’ll understand why it takes such force to dislodge captured particulates.

    I’m not sure why you continue to question the potential severity of peanut allergies. There’s a very large body of medical documentation establishing, quite thoroughly, just how severe these allergies can be and others on this site have mentioned that nut allergies account for the majority of food-allergy caused death.

    Whether or not anyone on an airplane has died from this, YET, is irrelevant. If you could go back to August 2001, knowing what you know now, how would you feel about people who argued against increasing airport security by saying “well nobody has ever crashed a plane into a building, so we shouldn’t take precautions against it”?

    Perhaps we’ve just been lucky so far. From what I’ve gathered reading the comments here, people with peanut allergies severe enough to warrant immediate medical attention, because of their fears, do not generally fly on airplanes. Very small population to begin with + widespread self-imposed flying ban = No deaths, YET, on an airplane. However, the whole point of the ADA is to ensure that Americans with disabilities do not HAVE to forgo things such as flight because of their disability. The problem, right now, isn’t people dying of anaphylaxis on airplanes, it’s American citizens being unable, because of their disability, to participate in a normal, every day activity that they otherwise would be able to, with minor accommodation.

    I do agree with you that banning peanuts (and, really, all nuts) on flights is not the right way to go. Instead of worrying about one particular person and what motivation they may or may not have had in ignoring your first recommendation of it, why not help the overall cause here by continuing to advocate that airlines provide, upon request, masks, gloves, and cleanroom suits so that those who DO take responsibility for their own condition can enjoy the freedom air travel provides the rest of us US citizens.

    6/23/2010 02:56

    It really doesn’t matter what the AAFA thinks the ADA applies to; the courts aren’t interested. They need a good body of evidence and reason to convince them, and they’ve never seen it yet, which is why the federal courts have never ruled this way.

    Yes, breathing is useful if you want to stay alive, but ADA cases apply to employers, which is why the courts generally rule in favor of the aggrieved employee. But the ADA is limited to employers and those receiving federal funds, which in the realm of passengers, doesn’t apply to an airline. If we start to view allergies as a disability, then everyone is disabled, and that is absolute nonsense.

    I’ve never questioned the severity of peanut allergies; I do take issue with the idea that is being pushed that these sufferers are “disabled” and that they should be able to determine what can and cannot be served or eaten on-board an airline, to the detriment of the majority view.

    But their mindset is to imagine the worst possible scenario and take the position that it is a certainty. It substitutes imagination for thinking, speculation for risk analysis, and fear for reason. It fosters powerlessness and vulnerability…”

    That’s not how they should want to live their life, nor should anyone else.

    The fact that nobody has ever died from anaphylactic shock caused by peanuts or tree nuts on-board a U.S. flight is very relevant and significant. It provides us with irrefutable, unbiased, empirical evidence of exactly how remote this possibility is for anyone. Decision need to be based on evidence, not speculation or fear.

    If we were to get in the time machine and go back to August 2001, I’d say skip the theatrics at the airport and do some real intelligence gathering, just like the Israeli’s. Body scanners don’t work, which is why they and other countries don’t use them. On the ground intelligence works and is far less expensive than a “Homeland Security” department with an endless, secret budget, accountable to no one, rife with abuse and waste of taxpayer dollars, along with secret policies and programs that violate longstanding federal laws as well as our constitutional rights.

    For all the inconvenience you endure at the airport, it hasn’t increased security one bit. It just makes people think it’s safer. That’s a delusion for which nobody should take pride.

    We haven’t been lucky at all; terrorists, for all their boasting, are generally inept and stupid.

    Likewise, there’s no evidence that allergy sufferers are choosing not to travel by air due to their imagined fear. That’s a position that FAAN and AAFA would like the DOT and others to believe, but if they had any scientific data to back it up, they would have trotted it out by now.

    Peanut and tree nut allergy suffers aren’t forced to not fly; that’s something they choose out of an irrational fear of the unknown. Choosing not to participate in life to the fullest extend you can is not a disability. It’s you giving your condition too much influence over what you can or cannot do.

    I don’t support having airlines offer gloves or cleanroom suits for severe allergy sufferers; they solve nothing and are very expensive, which would result in an increase in the cost of travel for everyone. There’s nothing to stop people from bringing their own supply of surgical masks, just like they used during the SARS scare, and some people even used during the overwrought fear of contracting H5N1 (swine flu). Those are very effective at preventing inhalation of dust and airborne bacteria.

    6/23/2010 04:03

    A federal court case in which an airport and airlines were tried for non-compliance with the ADA.

    http://www.equalaccess.com.au/news/47/

    Airplanes are considered private entities governed by Title III of the ADA

    http://www.workworld.org/wwwebhelp/americans_with_disabilities_act_ada_.htm#Americans_with_Disabilities_Act_ADA_Title_III

    The Air Carrier Access Act- a non-ADA body of regulations governing treatment of disabled passengers on commercial airlines.

    http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/publications/disabled.htm

    Cleanroom suit- $25

    Surgical mask- $0.44

    Latex gloves- $.15

    Safety and peace of mind for allergy sufferers without inconveniencing anyone else- Priceless

6/22/2010 21:30

The opponents of accommodations are well aware that studies have been published in the journals of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, the American Medical Association, and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, not to mention medical associations in other countries. They can purchase full text access for themselves, but they already have a prejudgment against the researchers and their conclusions, so why bother?

There was a moment on the board when the moderators asked for a discussion of a hypothetical compromise position. But those demanding funerals before entertaining even a compromise position muted that. That is sad. There are several others on the board with some good reasonable ideas.

It’s fairly clear that mean-spiritedness abounds, here – probably as a result of emphasis in current American politics on the potential for influence of minority interests and needs. But some of the people on this board – calling for funerals before advancing the discussion – give new meaning to the Founders’ fears of the tyranny of the majority.

    6/22/2010 22:06

    Your argument is a strawman. Nobody is advocating funerals; you’re just trying to deflect attention away from the issue, which is that there is no real risk to peanut allergy sufferers. And there is no scientific evidence to support your argument. You can’t even cite the studies you claim exist, because they don’t exist.

    The only mean spirited people are those like yourself, who want to trample the rights of the majority for a non-existent risk that affects a very small number of people. This has nothing to do with the founding of the U.S. at all.

    6/22/2010 23:00

    Alter-ego “howie” wants proof in the form of funerals. See howie
    6/22/2010 20:13, “Really, I just have one question: Does anyone here actually know of a confirmed report of one person actually dying from a peanut? I’m not talking about ‘almost’ died, I mean an actual funeral? Didn’t think so. Nuff said.”

    Good luck to all concerned.

    6/28/2010 15:15

    Obviously I don’t want anyone to die. With all the hysteria being spouted by you and others, it seems like this board should be full of heartbreaking tales of dead loved ones. I was simply making the point that those tales are not here because it hasn’t happened, because THERE IS NO RISK!

6/22/2010 21:49

I have celiac disease and hypoglycemia. Last time I flew, it was a fairly long flight but the airline had informed us that food other than packaged snacks was to be offered. I purchased some safe, gluten-free trail mix at the airport and tossed it into my carry-on so that I could have something to eat. It had dried fruit, nuts, and included peanuts. My concern was gluten, not peanuts.

There was a child with a peanut allergy on the plane and not only did the flight crew refuse to serve peanuts to the entire plane, but I was asked to put away the gluten-free trail mix I had just bought IN THE AIRPORT. I would have eaten something else to keep my blood sugar up, but every single snack on that plane other than the peanuts contained gluten. I came off the three hour flight dizzy, sick, hypoglycemic, and furious. Why does one person’s disability take precedence over another’s?

If DOT is going to restrict peanuts on planes it needs to be CLEARLY COMMUNICATED ON THE TICKET AND IN ADVANCE. It’s easy to bring foods without peanuts but only if you know to do so.

    6/22/2010 22:01

    That should be “no food other than packaged snacks.” Sorry.

    6/23/2010 00:45

    Thank you for your contribution. Do you have an specific suggestions on how the DOT could inform passengers pre-flight in an effective way?

    6/24/2010 21:28

    A blanket restriction can be communicated as part of the ticket purchase, much like the new luggage fees. I would suggest asking airlines to print it on the itinerary with food information, and on boarding passes.

    As I think about it, there are some serious communication issues with peanut-free zones or individual peanut-free flights. I have had flight times changed and the airline failed to email or telephone me. I caught the time change when I logged in to print a boarding pass. My brother almost missed a flight when the same thing happened to him.

    If a peanut-allergic person books a flight a short time before travel, the airlines are not reliable enough to notify passengers. The information could be provided when people log in to print boarding passes, but not everyone prints them in advance. The scenario where a celiac like me packs peanut-containing food and doesn’t find out about a peanut restriction until they arrive at the airport is troublesome. Not all terminals have places where I can buy gluten-free food.

    Peanut-free zones on full flights could be handled by the flight staff moving people who want to eat peanuts around the cabin; however, people are sometimes resistant to being reseated and it puts a burden on the flight crew.

    As I write this, I think DOT is going to have to go with an all or none policy on peanuts. It’s too difficult to communicate to other passengers with different dietary restrictions who might pack peanuts with a “sometimes” policy.

6/22/2010 22:41

By the way, once I got off the plane where I was asked to put my personal stash of peanut-containing trail mix away, I did some research on airborn food allergy because I was skeptical. DOT may want to consider this study supporting reactions to airborne particles of food allergens. Ramirez and Bahna. Clin Mol Allergy. 2009; 7: 4.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2651849/?tool=pubmed

6/23/2010 01:07

Don’t limit it to peanut allergies. I can never fly. because I have an airborne allergy to chewing gum other people have or chew. I can’t even go through some checkout lines in some stores, because they stock gum there.

I also can’t use mass transportation for this reason. If anyone chews gum on the bus or train, I go into anaphylactic shock. My airway closes off and fills up with mucus. This seems to be part of my latex allergy. I also had trouble with jury duty.

The way to do this is to let the allergic passenger state ANY airborne allergy. Then that substance would not be allowed on the flight.

Alternatively, give each passenger a clean air supply unpolluted by materials other passengers have. Do not recirculate the air.

    6/23/2010 01:41

    I originally had this posted in another section, but it seems more appropriate here. I have an alternate solution to suggest: airline provided surgical masks to prevent airborne contamination and either thoroughly sanitized seating to prevent skin contact with oils left by previous passengers or, for those who don’t feel secure in sanitization procedure, sealed cleanroom suits available upon request. A quick Google check turned up boxes of 50 medical grade surgical masks for $22, a company named Microarray selling individually sealed cleanroom suits with hood and boots for $27.45 each, and a 40 pack of latex gloves for $6. This provides a cheap and perfectly effective solution to what is, apparently, a very occasional problem. These masks and suits are considered safe enough to avoid contamination in the most sensitive of settings: operating rooms, high technology clean rooms, etc. They should be safe enough to avoid any chance of accidental inhalation or contact with peanut allergens. One thing I like about this as a solution is that it works equally well for all forms of airborne allergens, not just peanuts. What do you all think?

    6/23/2010 01:55

    Your claim is specious at best. You can’t be exposed to an allergen that is wrapped, and therefore not exposed to the air.

    If you really believe the DOT would let anyone cause any claimed allergen from a flight, you are daft. Everyone is allergic to something, so that would mean an empty plane, as well as an undue burden on other passengers and the airlines. It’s not going to happen, so you might as well stay home and live behind that plastic sheeting of yours.

    Air is not recirculated on airplanes. That’s a myth that you need to abandon. The air on-board is cleaner than most public buildings. If you want your own air supply, bring it from home, since you’re not breathing the air inside your house or apartment.

    Good luck with that.

6/23/2010 04:01

I’m not inclined to agree with banning peanuts on all planes – at least not until someone bans sick people from planes, too. I mean, really, what is worse for a planeful of people – a peanut, or the person next to them coughing and sneezing without covering their mouths and tossing used tissues on tray tables and in seatback holders that will never, ever be cleaned? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat within spitting range of those germfests, and it’s more detrimental to me and my health than any shellfish I could be exposed to (I’m allergic to seafood).

I think in general it’s the responsibility of the allergy sufferer to deal with their allergies, not the people around them. If someone is allergic to peanuts (via ingestion) the just don’t freaking eat the peanuts. It is that simple. People around that person shouldn’t be banned because someone who is allergic to peanuts might be dumb (or hungry) enough to eat the mini bag. Not only that, a lot of foods are made with labels that say “may contain traces of peanuts” – are those not allowed on planes, either? What are people supposed to eat on long flights? Or are they supposed to only buy the overpriced, dried out sandwiches airlines served and/or eat the microwaved food? If you’re going to ban peanuts, someone better step up the regulation of the junk that is passed off as “food” on planes.

I think the better solution to this problem is to have people who have airborne peanut allergies declare themselves when they book the flight (with medical proof) and place restrictions ONLY on that flight, with the rule that all other passengers be notified at check-in of the special service and the airline should offer passengers pretzels or something else on that flight. People with non-airborne peanut allergies should not get any say in peanuts on planes. If the only rule is that YOU can’t eat peanuts, then YOU don’t eat them.

6/23/2010 04:10

I think this is way beyond necessary. I do feel for the small minority of people with allergies but I have not heard of anyone dying on a plane because of peanuts. So now we are going to have to give up every item with a nut in it? PLEASE! This is getting really out of hand. After peanuts next thing will be strawberries or shell fish. This is a small special interest group. This is not necessary.

    8/6/2010 20:23

    Oh well, by all means, lets wait until we have an epidemic of allergy related deaths on planes before we attempt to answer this question.

    I wonder how you would react to someone suffocating to death next to you on an airplane.

6/23/2010 04:57

I have lived my entire life with a peanut allergy; I carry emergency medicines with me at all times. In the past I have flown on planes serving peanut products and have been fine. I stopped flying on flights serving peanuts after having an asthma attack on a Southwest flight in 2007. It was not a life-threatening reaction but, to me, further exposure was not worth the risk. (In allergic individuals each allergen exposure results in a faster, more severe reaction the next time they come in contact with the allergen due to antibody production.) So far I have not relied on the government to keep me safe; I vote with my wallet and pay to fly on airlines that do not serve peanuts (i.e. American Airlines.)

In response to what DOT wants to know:

1) I know that there are individuals who are more sensitive to peanut dust than I am. If it is at all likely that a single customer can suffer a life-threatening reaction on an airplane, I believe peanuts should not be served because of that person.
I cannot understand why all airlines do not voluntarily stop serving peanuts. Will it actually take someone dying mid-flight, (and the inevitable law suit,) to change peoples’ minds?
2) I believe that the risk posed by peanuts to a small percentage of the population warrants them not being served on airplanes. Air travel is a necessary part of modern living and cannot be avoided by those with allergies. I do not believe that airlines need – or should – carry epipens. The people best trained to use them are those with the allergy and presumably will have their own if the risk demands.
3) I cannot fathom why airlines would go through the trouble of carrying epipens (and training flight attendants to use them) just so they can continue to serve peanuts. What is so bad about pretzels after all? It seems as if some people believe that peanuts are the only thing that can be served on an airplane.
4) I do not believe that foods which would release peanut dust into the air should be served. In my mind this includes packages of peanuts and peanut butter crackers. For simplicity’s sake I would support a total peanut ban on airplanes but this may be impossible. Having read ingredient labels for my entire life, I am no longer surprised by the unlikely foods that contain peanuts.

    6/23/2010 12:50

    That’s the issue: the possibility is so remote as to be infinitesimal, and it’s never happened. Which is why there’s no reason to start banning foods on airlines. There’s no danger of a lawsuit, since all passengers accept the risks when flying, just as when sports fans accept the risks of being injured at a game. It’s part of the terms you accept when buying a ticket.

    Since the risk to that very small percentage of people is so remote, there’s no reason to ban peanuts or any other type of food. Everyone is allergic to something, so that would also mean other foods would need to be banned, up to the point where there would no longer be anything served during flight. That is an absurd overreaction for a small group of people. There’s a risk of the plan crashing, so maybe we should ban air travel, too. Likewise, the risk of someone drowning is much greater, but you’re not advocating we ban swimming pools or swimming.

    Air travel is part of modern living, but unless you’re crossing the ocean, you aren’t being forced to fly, and nothing prevents any allergy sufferer from flying except irrational fears such as this one.

    What’s wrong with pretzels? If you don’t know,, then you really have no idea what you’re talking about here. Pretzels contain gluten, which is also a food allergy, along with higher levels of salt, which is not good for people who have high blood pressure.

    Your simplistic belief that banning peanuts would solve a problem is not founded in reality. There are already peanuts on-board the aircraft, so that assumed threat will still be there, but still not affecting you in any way. That will just cause you to focus on something even more inane, like trying to force airlines to remove the seats and the sub-floor to get rid of all those peanuts, replace the seats entirely, and have certain aircraft designated as “peanut free”.

    6/24/2010 21:43

    You have no idea what you’re talking about either. Celiac disease is not an “allergy” and someone sitting in the next seat eating pretzels poses no risk to a celiac. Even if a celiac ingests trace gluten, the reaction is uncomfortable, not life-threatening. On the off-chance there is turbulence and somebody’s pretzel lands in my drink, I’m sure the airline would replace it.

    7/6/2010 09:19

    Actually, I do know what I’m talking about. Celiac disease and gluten allergies are two different things. The fact that you don’t understand that illustrates your ignorance of the issue at hand.

    6/23/2010 13:36

    kaukkonen thank you for your post. Do you have any suggestions as to where the DOT should draw the line in banning products that may contain peanut products?

6/23/2010 07:23

I am concerned that any solution will lull travelers with peanut allergies into a false sense of security. It may prevent the airline itself from serving peanuts, but what about passengers who bring their own peanut butter & jelly sandwiches onto a plane? Or those who ate peanuts before boarding the plane and still had the peanut dust on them?

I do not suffer peanut allergies, nor do I know anyone who has them (at least that I’m aware of). I do realize though that there is a growing trend of more and more Americans being allergic to peanuts. I’m not sure why. Personally, I suspect it’s something in the environment — maybe chemicals in our food (pesticides), plastics, etc. Who knows. But it does appear that the allergies are on the increase — and something is causing it.

I’m not sure how realistic bans on peanuts really are — especially in environments like airplanes. These bans make sense in day care and schools where parents and kids can be educated about the issues, and the same consumers (the kids and parents) return to the same location every day. However, with air travel, it’s really more about educating the entire American public about the dangers of peanuts to remedy the situation…and then one has to wonder if this is truly the most pressing medical issue? What about smoking? Obesity? etc…there seem to be more important medical issues taking more lives that should be higher on the overall public agenda.

    6/23/2010 12:58

    There is no growing trend in the number of people who are allergic to peanuts; that is a talking point of FAAN that is unsupported by any scientific evidence.

    Peanuts are not dangerous. Those with severe peanut allergies are at some risk if they are exposed to peanuts, which is no different than any other allergy.

    6/23/2010 13:57

    Thank you for your comment Cyberjev. Do you have any specific suggestions as to ways that education can be used to limit potential exposure?

6/23/2010 12:07

Airlines are NOT public spaces. If airlines ban peanuts, MANY passengers WILL bring their own peanuts on board … as airlines cannot stop people from bringing their own snacks.

What are we going to do? Ban every food that anyone is allergic to? When will it stop?

I am sympathetic to people with allergies, but people with allergies need to be prepared with their medicine and then need to stop trying to impose their need on the 99% of the healthy (non-allergic) population.

    8/6/2010 20:16

    Okay-but medication doesn’t stop it, prevent it, or help the person who cannot breathe.

    How can this many people be this dense?

6/23/2010 12:23

I have a peanut allergy and do not fly on airplanes very often. However, my husband and I took a trip that required flying for travel and I was very worried about the peanuts. I took over-the-counter medicine to prevent a reaction and was very careful during the trip. I can be as careful as I need to be, but I can’t help what the people around me eat.

I think that the two best ideas are banning nuts (all types) from all flights, or having nut-free flights available (the same way we can request a non-smoking hotel room).

When discussing an epinephrine auto-injector, I feel there should be one on the plane as part of the medical equipment, but should only be used in an emergency situation. My doctor to me that if I use the Epi Pen, I have a few minutes to get to a hospital so they can regulate the epinephrine that’s just been injected into my body. This advice has caused me not to use the Epi Pen when I know that I can’t get to a hospital in a short amount of time.

To me foods items, like a nut crusted chicken and rice dish will not bother me the way peanuts will. Peanut butter provides the same reaction, so peanut butter crackers would be “out” with a nut-free ban. Products containing peanut oil are a different matter. My doctor explained that the protein that I’m allergic to is broken down in the “oil” form, so foods cooked in peanut oil (like Chick-Fil-A) do not bother me.

Thank you for the time and energy in researching the best way to work through this issue. I appreciate it very much.

    6/23/2010 12:53

    The fact that you weren’t affected in any way during flight is evidence that your fears are irrational and unfounded.

    Instead of worrying about a possibility that is so remote, get some therapy to deal with your fears. They are unhealthy for you and everyone around you.

6/23/2010 13:08

i’m for an outright ban on serving peanuts & peanut products on planes. i don’t have an allergy, but i’m amazed at how many people i know who do. and that population is only growing.

if smoking has been successfully banned, something as potentially deadly as nuts should be. if someone lights up a cigarette it’s not going to cause a medical emergency within moments. several people opening their nut packets could.

if i want to eat nuts, i’ll go home & stuff myself with nuts. but during a flight, for the safety – not preference – of others, i can refrain.

    6/23/2010 16:27

    Peanut allergies are not increasing, so it’s time you get that idea out of your head. There is no scientific evidence to support that tired, old claim.

    Smoking on an airliner can indeed cause a medical emergency within moments. People opening packages of peanuts cannot; it’s never happened on any U.S. based flight in all the years of airlines operating. That alone is ample evidence that the possibility is so remote as to be statistically non-existent.

    People who subscribe to worst-case scenario thinking are creating needless anxiety for themselves and others, which leaves them feeling powerless and vulnerable. Instead of trying to shift your irrational fears onto others along with your responsibility for your own condition, get professional help.

6/23/2010 13:52

Bottom line here is that there are a lot of things that can potentially kill someone who is allergic to them. If you ban peanuts/peanut products then what about all of the other things like latex or perfume, etc. If you don’t then what is your argument (ban supporters) to those who suffer from severe allergic reactions to these other products? Why is their safety worth anything less than yours? Yet if you ban every product that could potentially cause a fatal or near fatal allergic reaction then you make flying impractical.

6/23/2010 13:57

As I suffer from a severe peanut allergy, I am also for the banning of peanut products on airplanes. I can assure you that this is a very important issue; I myself had reactions to airborne peanuts while on airplanes. This makes traveling by air very risky if not impossible.

It is important that the general public be made aware of the lifestyle restrictions that this situation puts on those who suffer from the allergy. For example, being unable to travel by air can have a significant impact on professional development and career success. I am sure that we can all agree that for someone with a disability to be unnecessarily restricted in such a way is unjust.

    6/23/2010 14:17

    Thank you for your comment. Do you believe it would be sufficient to ban peanut products on flights only when an allergy sufferer discloses this prior to flight?

    6/23/2010 15:57

    I don’t believe that is feasible or necessary, for 4 reasons. First, studies have shown that the majority of self-reported allergies are in fact not allergies. Thus there would be unnecessary bans on many flights. Second, this would place a burden on airlines – someone would essentially need to keep track for every flight whether peanuts can be served or not. This would effectively remove peanuts from all flights. Third, this does not answer questions about passengers being able to bring peanut products on flights. As long as passengers can, airline regulations are meaningless. And in my opinion, it is not reasonable or legal to ban passengers from bringing on board any peanut containing product. Lastly, does either the ADA or the medical literature warrant such a ban? No – neither does. Until it can be shown that there is either a medically or legally warranted reason for a peanut ban, this issue should come to an end.

    6/23/2010 15:23

    Should peanuts also be banned from places of employment for the same reasons? Should peanuts be banned from public areas? And is it also reasonable to ban all peanut-containing products from being brought on-board by passengers? Finally, should the same accommodations be made for those suffering from other allergies? Because using the logic offered by the above commenters (and others), the answers to all these questions should be yes – yet we can see this quickly becomes absurd.

    6/23/2010 16:38

    No, you didn’t have a reaction to airborne peanuts: they’re heavier than air, so they can’t be airborne. Peanut dust could be airborne, but unless you were not taking any precautions for your condition, you weren’t at any great risk.

    Nobody has ever died from anaphylaxis due to peanut allergies on a U.S. based airline. That is irrefutable evidence that the actual risk is so small as to be non-existent.

    Your lifestyle isn’t be restricted by your allergy, it’s being restricted by you living in fear. You’ve taken the worst case scenario and assumed it to be a certainty, when in fact it’s not. Nothing is stopping you from traveling by air except your irrational fears. There are far greater risks in many other things you do every day, yet you’re somehow not worried about those. That’s what we call selective disability. You’re not disabled; that’s an excuse you use to shift responsibility for your allergy to other people.

6/23/2010 14:10

As a mother of a child who had a (luckily) mild reaction to someone else’s peanuts on a plane, I would like to say that as a physical disability this should be treated as any other. People in wheelchairs are given ramps and special treatment which is also somewhat inconvenient to other passengers, why not do the same for people with severe allergies? For those who say all possible allergens would be banned, they obviously do not understand that only a couple of allergens (peanuts, and latex included) travel through the air in dust form. I cannot comprehend people who are not willing to give up one certain snack-food for a couple of hours for the safety of others. There are so many laws to protect the handicapped that I don’t understand how this is even a debate. Peanuts should be banned on planes.

    6/23/2010 16:19

    An allergy is not a handicap or a disability. Everyone is allergic to something, so by your misguided definition, everyone is disabled or handicapped.

    Other allergens can be detected in the air and cause a reaction; peanuts and latex are not the only things. Once you start to ban certain foods, you go down the slippery slope of banning other foods because someone will be allergic to one or more ingredients in that food.

    You are responsible for your condition and that of your children. Trying to shift that responsibility to other passengers is unreasonable in the extreme.

6/23/2010 15:00

After reading other people posts it is clear that most do not even understand what a real allergy is. As a registered nurse I can tell you that a person who get nauseous at the smell or an upset tummy is not allergic, that is an intolerance and is not life threatening. My son spent 2 days in intensive care as a small child from a true peanut reaction. For those saying that a small amount of peanuts in the air is not harmful, my child’s throat closes up when he eats food that was processed in the same facility with peanuts and began this reaction on a plane with peanuts 5 rows in front of us. We would not travel on air planes if not for the fact that we have family in both Florida and New York. We cannot live near both. We have to avoid many restaurants that serve peanuts, and he cannot get ice cream at any place that offers peanuts as a topping. We do not ask the world to revolve around his disability any more than any other person with a disability would ask for. To answer the question about whether having just the flight that the allergic person is on be peanut-free would be helpful, it leaves room for error and with all of the other things that are banned on flights (lotion bottles, fingernail clippers, etc) it seems far more efficient to simply add it to the list.

    6/23/2010 16:39

    I think the large majority of the population doesn’t understand that a severe peanut allergy is unlike other allergy. Many people think “oh I have allergies-I take an antihistamine when I get itchy or feel sick”. People with a severe allergy can die from a reaction to the peanut protein in the closed confines of a plane with recirculated air. This is not an irrational fear, but rather based in the reality that you can take all the proper precautions, but there is nothing you can do if the peanut protein is in the air on a plane. It’s not like you can go outside for fresh air. An epi-pen is only a stop gap solution. It lasts for 15-20 minutes and allows the sufferer time to get to an emergency room for further treatment. We first discovered that my son’s allergy to peanuts, included air born exposure while flying on a plane. He was 5 years old and asleep and started scratching his face, which also began to swell. I looked to the back of the plane and discovered that the stewards were passing out peanuts, which everyone was popping open. I asked her to stop immediately, which she did. I gave my son Benedryl and fortunately this sufficed-this time. We were very lucky. It is terrifying to be mid-flight and think that your child or loved one could die like this. It is also very disheartening to read comments from people who feel that their freedom is impinged upon by not being allowed to eat a certain food for the length of a flight. It seems a minor inconvenience to be asked to refrain from a food preference for such a short time in order to save another’s life. A peanut free zone will not work because of the air born peanut protein in recirculated air. If peanuts are only banned on a flight with an allergy sufferer, does the plane get new fresh air before a new group of passengers boards for another flight? If many passengers decided they were going to bring a peanut containing candy bar on the plane, this too could create a serious allergic reaction. I also think that the airlines should be required to carry epi-pens and an emergency kit to be prepared to treat a variety of emergencies, since once up in the air we are captive to what is available. The reason nobody ever died from an anaphylactic peanut reaction on a flight is because the parents of children with this allergy go to great lengths to make sure the flight is peanut free and often meet with the disdain of flight personnel when reminding them on boarding of the need for a peanut free flight and to make an announcement to not eat peanut products on the plane. Banning peanuts on a fight seems like a minor inconvenience & not a lot to ask to save a life. The only way the rule can be effective is to ban peanuts & peanut products from all flights.

    6/23/2010 17:10

    Thank you for your comment. One of the more difficult questions the proposed ban presents is exactly which products need to be banned, and which are safe. Would you have any further information as to which types of products pose an airborne threat? Do all products containing even small amounts of peanuts pose a risk?

    7/5/2010 18:10

    It is my understanding that non-peanut related items made in a facility that produces peanut snacks are more likely to be a problem for peanut allergy sufferers if the product ingested as opposed to simply coming in contact with. The basis for my understanding comes from visits to allergy-specializing doctors concerning my 4-year old daughter’s food allergies. I have also attended lectures from immunologists in an effort to determine precisely what is a threat to my daughter and how large of a threat a particular item may be.

    The ban should include peanuts, products containing peanuts (e.g., snack/trail mix), and products derived from peanuts (e.g., peanut butter).

    7/6/2010 09:32

    The problem is that we have an irrational group of people who claim to suffer from severe peanut allergies, who are trying to impose their desire to ban peanuts and other nuts from being served by airlines under the guise of safety.

    But they can point to no evidence that their worst, unfounded fears have ever happened on any U.S. airliner, so they hype their claims even more, hoping their tiny minority will gain favor. In the process, they refuse to deal with their irrational fears, and point blame at everyone and everything for their “inability” to fly, even going so far as to claim it’s a disability.

    There’s no disability here at all. The simple fact is that these people want to shift their responsibility for their own well-being onto others, and they’ll use any means they can to justify their goal. The simplest solution would be to ban peanut allergy sufferers from flying.

    6/23/2010 18:54

    The air on-board an airliner is not recirculated, so you might as well abandon that excuse; it doesn’t work for you.

    “The reason nobody ever died from an anaphylactic peanut reaction on a flight is because the parents of children with this allergy go to great lengths to make sure the flight is peanut free…”

    Yet another false claim unsupported by the evidence. The reason this hasn’t happened is due to one fact only: the risk is extremely small so as to be statistically non-existent. You cling to irrational fears to support your desire, rather than reason and evidence.

    Unless your child has been medically tested and diagnosed with a peanut allergy, there is no way to know whether or not he has one, much less the severity. You’d rather live your life in constant fear of things that are so unlikely, thus creating unhealthy anxiety for you and your child. You need psychological help.

6/23/2010 16:35

I love peanuts and enjoy eating them while flying which I do often as a frequent flyer with 100s of thousands of miles. I’m a relatively young man and I have a heart condition which can stop me from breathing in a “heart beat” and send me into cardiac arrest and every time I get on a flight I fear for my life a little since there is no emergency room with a doctor on a plane. Unfortunately there is nothing I can do about this condition I have except bring my meds and hope for the best. With this in mind, I have to say that I personally would give up my right to eat peanuts if it could alleviate this same sort of drama for someone else. If the risk to a person’s life can be simply alleviated then I’m for banning peanuts or at least banning them on flights that have peanut sensitive people on them.

    6/23/2010 16:44

    Thank you for your comment Andy. You have indicated that you travel often, the DOT would appreciate any information that you might have concerning the other areas of the proposed rule changes.

6/23/2010 17:39

I am the father of a 5-year old with a severe peanut allergy as well as a physician and a medical epidemiologist. While I have been fortunate enough to not experience an anaphylactic reaction in my son, I have seen patients with anaphylactic reactions. They are terrifying for everyone involved, even in situations where you are surrounded by trained staff, abundant medications and crash carts.

The way I see this issue is that it is balancing the risks and benefits of peanuts on planes. The risks are pretty obvious and encompass death and less severe reactions that, at a minimum, are likely to result in an emergency landing.

The benefits of serving peanuts on planes are limited to the fact that most people like peanuts and they are fairly inexpensive.

I have seen on this discussion board arguments that people have the right to eat peanuts, that people with allergies should wear masks or other personal protective equipment (extending to full body suits), that people with allergies should not fly, etc… These arguments seem somewhat petty, impractical, and outdated, respectively. Petty because it is not a major sacrifice to go without a bag of peanuts. Impractical because trying to keep an N95 (particulate) mask on a young child for up to 6 hours just cannot happen. Outdated because in modern US society with families spread across the nation travel is often the norm.

For people who say ‘Just don’t travel on planes’, I assert that they are missing the point. It is not as if dealing with a severe allergy is not already lifestyle altering. I will never be able to take my son to a major league baseball park; we will never be able to go down the street for ice cream on a hot summer day; we cannot go to a Chinese restaurant. This is all OK because these are luxuries. Furthermore, if we somehow do find ourselves in a hazardous situation, we can just get up and leave. On an airplane, that is not an option. There is no getting up and leaving (and just the act of changing your seat is a challenge).

So, the way I see it is that the risks associated with serving peanuts in a closed environment where the ability to provide medical care is limited clearly outweigh the benefits of serving peanuts both on a societal and cultural level (because the very real risk faced by children and adults with severe peanut allergies far exceeds the benefit of airlines serving peanuts).

This is a clear choice.

    6/23/2010 17:51

    Thank you for your post. As a Medical professional, if you are aware of any studies or other medical information that is available, it would be useful to the DOT.

    6/23/2010 18:14

    FYI the DOT has closed this proposal as they are not allowed to ban peanuts without further studies.

    For more information regarding airborne anaphylaxis (in general, not necessarily regarding peanuts) see the below (abstracts of)studies published by the National Institute of Health:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7677242

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2651849/?tool=pubmed

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10400859

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681085

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11379811

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12532119

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8172359

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11642578

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11379811

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19232116

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16314475

    Perhaps the DOT should work with FAAN using much of the above information or starting a study of their own to come up with an answer that will work for those with peanut/ nut allergies.

    6/23/2010 18:23

    There is nothing that I am aware of that has not been recently publicized.

    These include:
    1) Sicherer SH et al. US prevalence of self-reported peanut, tree nut, and sesame allergy: 11-year follow-up. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010; 125(6):1322-6.
    This article showed increasing prevalence peanut allergy in children but is limited by the lack of a gold standard for diagnosis.

    2) Ben-Shoshan M et al. A population-based study on peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, and sesame allergy prevalence in Canada. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010;125(6):1327-35.
    This article is similar in the effect size and is notable because the rates of peanut allergy are 2-4 times higher in children than in adults (with varying the definitions to include only confirmed as well as confirmed and probable allergy).

    3) Venter C et al. Time trends in the prevalence of peanut allergy: three cohorts of children from the same geographical location in the UK. Allergy. 2010 Jan;65(1):103-8.
    Shows similar prevalence rates as the US and Canadian studies above of ~1.2-1.4% in children born on the Isle of Wight, UK.

    4) Branum and Lukacs. Food allergy among children in the United States. Pediatrics. 2009; 124(6):1549-55.
    This is an analysis of data gathered by the CDC program (NHANES 2005-2006), designed to be a nationally representative population. In this study, serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to peanut were detectable for an estimated 9% of US children. This tells us a few things: 1) Peanut allergies are likely common; and 2) Serum IgE testing likely overestimates the number of people with clinically significant peanut allergies. Still, this high rate of elevate IgE could presage trends to come.

    The major problem is that some cases of peanut allergy are obvious while others are of uncertain significance. But, it appears that the prevalence of children with clinically significant peanut allergy is increasing (which means in a few years that the prevalence will also increase in adults). Why the prevalence is increasing remains a mystery.

    7/6/2010 09:37

    There is no scientific evidence showing that peanut allergies are increasing. Self-reporting studies are inherently flawed and cannot be used for that very purpose. Uninformed parents think every adverse reaction to some food must be an allergy, and they don’t bother to have their children tested to find out.

    Without there being a unified standard for allergy testing and diagnosis, any studies will be irrelevant and nothing more than a source of debate among the scientific community.

6/24/2010 06:14

This must be a very rare condition. I’ve traveled extensively, both domestically and internationally, on airlines for fifty years and have never seen a person on an airplane have a peanut allergy attack.

Also, this may be closing the barn door after the horse has run away. When was the last time an airline gave anyone a bag of peanuts?

    6/24/2010 10:05

    Ed – I got peanuts served on 2 flights this summer. But the substance of the debate goes far beyond simple bags of peanuts. Many of the commenters indicate they want full bans on any peanut-containing products, including those brought on board by passengers. Which means this not puts the onus on the passenger to check the label of any food they bring on board, and eliminate any food that contains peanuts, is made with peanut oil, or was manufactured in a plant that also processes peanuts. Does this really reasonable to anyone? Because banning airlines from distributing peanuts doesn’t address the issue – only a full ban on any peanut product would suffice. Clearly, you can’t ban passengers from bringing energy bars that may contain trace amounts of peanuts. Given that, why then even institute an airline ban, if it doesn’t fully address the issue?

    6/24/2010 11:29

    As the parent of a young child with a severe peanut allergy, I would be thrilled with the following:
    1) Airlines do not serve peanuts on-board
    2) All airlines have a well-documented, easily accessible, and ingrained among all flight staff policy regarding food allergies and procedures for dealing with food allergies, including:
    a) Early boarding for passengers with allergies to inspect their assigned seats and either clean them or request a seat change if necessary (Southwest allows early boarding as long as you do not take an exit row)
    2) Following declaration of an allergy, education of nearby passengers regarding peanut products (particularly those which may release dust that can go airborne); this could be done with a single-sided piece of paper.
    3) Flexibility with seating assignments to accommodate changes if a problem is apparent.

    Essentially, the key with this, as with everything in life, is to minimize risk while maximizing feasibility. An absolute ban on peanut products is not currently possible, but it is possible to increase the protection of passengers with life threatening allergies with minimal inconvenience to other passengers.

    Please everyone on this site, be reasonable, accommodating and, if possible, kind to others.

    Thank you.

    6/24/2010 12:12

    Thank you for your detailed comment!

    6/24/2010 14:22

    Great comment. I am a parent of a multi-food allergy 6 year old. We are careful on what airlines we travel, we carry multiple epi-pens, we wipe down the seats before we let her sit down, etc… My order of preference for this question would be:

    1. Ban Peanuts/Tree Nuts, most already don’t serve them and there are plenty of acceptable alternatives.
    2. Ban on request if notified in advance.
    3. Peanut free zones.

    Peanuts/Tree Nuts are worse then other food allergens because they can be airborne which is why the recirculated air on airplanes is a problem. I am always nervous when are on a flight especially if we are going overseas

6/24/2010 14:26

Reading most of the comments it seems that the biggest concern is peanut allergy sufferers inhaling peanut particles. Perhaps instead of banning peanuts and peanut products outright. Airlines and the DOT can provide sufferers with HEPA airmasks which I assume will prevent individuals from inhaling peanut dust. I would think this approach would be of minimal cost (air filters can be bought for about $20 or less) and would not require a ban. If touch is a problem dressing accordingly (i.e. long clothes for the trip to minimize touching surfaces)can help decrease the amount.
I would say that if someone still insists upon a ban if these measures would work that we are then getting into a debate of my rights over your rights and my want to be comfortable compared to your want to be comfortable which definitely takes us out of the need to protect life arena

I think the government should do studies if they insist upon a ban and should not put one into effect without such a study.

    6/24/2010 14:32

    Thank you for your comment! Would you mind elaborating on the type of study you would require before any action is taken by the DOT on this issue?

    6/24/2010 14:42

    I think the DOT should prove that peanuts on planes will cause the problems that other commenters are concerned about. Controlled studies demonstrating that peanuts eaten in one portion of an airplane will be sent through the air into other portions. Studies that can show that there is enough residue left from others eating peanuts to trigger reactions. Although anecdotal evidence is helpful (and I do not doubt the veracity of the claims made by others) I think facts and statistics need to be considered. perhaps some concerns such as air circulation can be alleviated. then creating a buffer zone would make more sense. The problem is that when such a subject comes up everyone uses emotion to make a decision and decisions of this nature should also be made with considering scientific facts.

    6/24/2010 14:45

    There is a question of practicality here. Peanut allergies (and other food allergies) at the current time are becoming increasingly common in children. For a hypothetical cross-country flight with a young child, how can you keep an N95 mask on them for 6 hours (the masks for particulates are not the thin surgical masks but the far thicker versions)? Seriously??

    While I appreciate that a person may require peanuts to be ‘comfortable’ as asserted by csleep2, I would ask this individual to consider this proposition more fully, as I suspect that 6 hours of screaming from said toddler while the distraught parent struggles valiantly to keep the surgical mask in place will result in far greater discomfort than the loss of the 2 ounce bag of airplane peanuts. But I could be wrong – airplane passengers embracing the concept of N95 masks on children may actually rejoice at the idea of 6 hours with a screaming child because, well, peanuts are just that important to their quality of life and a brief peanut deprivation would quite simply be too devastating to even fathom.

    6/24/2010 14:59

    This is exactly my point regarding emotional reasoning and also the idea that one individuals comfort is more important than anothers. in your zeal to ridicule you may have missed the point of alternatives and discussion which I thought was why we were here. perhaps I was wrong to thing that was what we were suppossed to be doing. Also, you assume the child will scream. I would say that perhaps you should help the child become accustomed to the mask before hand by making it a game. This has worked with other things that children must endure. Secondly you reject the notion outright and my guess is that you have never tried it. This also proves that your concern is more with what you want and not what might work. your reasoning backs us “the collective us” into a corner of take it or leave it. I am sorry that offering other ideas instead of your preferred ban on peanuts upsets you. I refer you again to emotional reasoning on that.

    6/24/2010 16:27

    I am actually focusing on feasibility and weighing risks against benefits (and apologize for the sarcasm). But, yes, I do reject the concept that having a toddler suit and mask up for 6 hours is feasible. Just curious, but have you ever worn a surgical mask for 6 hours? I actually have, and I found it quite uncomfortable. Critically, I have the willpower and the motivation to keep it in place (because I am an adult and have the ability to modify my behavior when faced with logical demands). Toddlers do not have this ability. So now balance this against the idea of airlines needing to serve peanuts at 35,000 feet. It seems fairly straightforward to me. Personally, if you want to bring your Snickers bar on-board and eat it, that is fine. But, I do not want to be sitting anywhere near you with my child when this occurs.

    My suggestions:
    1) Airlines do not serve peanuts on-board
    2) All airlines have a well-documented, easily accessible, and ingrained among all flight staff policy regarding food allergies and procedures for dealing with food allergies, including:
    a) Early boarding for passengers with allergies to inspect their assigned seats and either clean them or request a seat change if necessary (Southwest allows early boarding as long as you do not take an exit row)
    b) Following declaration of an allergy, education of nearby passengers regarding peanut products (particularly those which may release dust that can go airborne); this could be done with a single-sided piece of paper.
    c) Flexibility with seating assignments to accommodate changes if a problem is apparent.

    This is not a ‘take it or leave it’ approach, but rather a balanced approach that weighs risks versus inconvenience for peanut consumers. Individual masks are not a practical solution for the most vulnerable passengers.

    6/24/2010 17:04

    dwein003 – The problem is when I pull out a Clif Bar to eat as a snack, or a PBJ sandwich I made at home, or a turkey sandwich on oatnut bread, or a snickers bar…Can I then not eat food that I packed to bring on board? Do I then need to change seats? This is where the holes in the plan becomes apparent. Eliminating bags of peanuts is not the issue – that’s easy. It’s how do you then deal with every potential peanut product passengers bring on board? Because to truly eliminate any potential for airborne peanut (for the moment, let’s ignore whether that poses a real risk or not), passengers would not be able to bring any food on-board, because even home-made sandwiches could contain nuts. And personally, I don’t think you can go that far. And so far on this comment board, no one has been able to address that issue. So, what good is banning airlines from serving bags of peanuts if a passenger brings on a PBJ sandwich, or opens an energy bar that contains nuts? If we re-seat, who moves? The family of 4 with the allergy, or the family of 4 that wants to eat the food they brought on board? How do you easily move those folks around? Do you see how something that sounds so easy in sentence format becomes a nightmare when you actually try to implement it?

    6/25/2010 02:28

    Maybe the answer is to designate certain flights as peanut-free. That way, the families that just love love their PB&J can take the regular flights, and those passengers who either have peanut allergies themselves or who are willing, for the sake of others, to make conscientious choices when packing their in-flight meals and snacks can take the peanut-free flights.

    6/25/2010 07:56

    I agree with Steyermark’s comments in many ways – a full ban on peanut products is unenforceable and not practical. In my family, we read labels, understand where the labels may not give all of the information, etc… This is not something that will be done by the majority of people. Also, foods like PBJ sandwiches are really easy to fly with – no refrigeration required.

    So, what I think needs to happen:
    1) The airlines themselves do not serve peanut products
    2) The airlines have clearly documented/posted allergy policies with education of staff (and encouragement of passenger awareness of these policies) to increase awareness that there may need to be some seat flexibility for people intending to eat peanut products from home during the flight if seated near peanut-allergic individuals. A key reason for this is that people deal with change better when it is expected, so if there is education in advance regarding these policies and issues, then seat changes or similar interventions are more likely to go smoothly. Overall, I can foresee that this may be a bit inconvenient and people affected may find this to be an annoyance, but, in the grand scheme of things, this is not that big of a deal. A policy could consist of identifying those in close proximity to the peanut-allergic individual and giving them a handout that asks if they have peanut products that they are going to be eating. If so, they should notify the flight attendant and some sort of seating rearrangement will occur in a way to maximize safety and minimize inconvenience. This will require flexibility and generosity of spirit on the part of all people involved (and I do recognize is likely to be annoying) but, in truth, is not that big of a deal when compared to a significant safety issue. The other factor here is that I am, in truth, less worried about a nearby PBJ sandwich or a Snickers bar than I am about a bag of raw peanuts as these foods are less likely to have particles that go airborne. It does not mean that I am unconcerned but just that they pose less risk.

    Finally, if necessary, I am more than prepared to either 1) give an affected passenger food that we brought on the plane that is peanut safe if they are really hungry (we always bring plenty of extra ‘safe’ food) or will gladly fork over the additional $5-$50 to buy them/their family whatever in-flight food they want if it means that they will not expose my family to peanut allergens in close proximity.

    Thanks.

6/25/2010 00:37

My concern is that the peanut ban, if it only bans airlines from serving peanut products, may create a false sense of security for allergy sufferers. Passengers may still carry peanut products, such as peanut butter granola bars, peanut butter cookies, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the airplane with them. So really, any meaningful ban would have to include passengers from bringing peanut products on the airplane.

    6/25/2010 08:29

    I would love to see a full ban – for those with allergies, it is clearly optimal. I do not think it is possible at this time though. Where is the line drawn? What about ‘possible contamination’ or ‘shares equipment’ labels, etc…

    I know that I will never feel secure when flying on a plane with my son (who has a severe allergy), just as I am never secure in a restaurant and just as we always make sure to have his epi-pens with us.

    The above would be a huge advance for people with food allergies, and, maybe in the future, it will be able to go further. But, for now, I do not see how it is practical.

6/25/2010 15:47

What is really telling in this entire discussion, is that each of the supposed allergy sufferers (or parents thereof) start off by saying I/my child has a life threatening allergy etc., and then describe an incident where they were exposed to the supposed allergen and either nothing happened, or a MILD reaction occurred. Several times I see – ‘I got nervous through the whole flight because I could smell peanuts’, or, ‘he broke out in hives and I was terrified’, or itchy eyes and scratchy throat, etc. Not one of these posters is mentioning an actual serious reaction that led to death or extended hospitalization. Hives, itchy eyes, scratchy throat – all unpleasant, but hardly life threatening. If peanuts are so deadly, why aren’t we hearing from ANYONE that has actually lost a loved one to them? Could it be that the fear is illusory? In a response to one of my earlier posts someone said that 100 to 200 people die of food allergies each year. No citation or support is offered for this # so its accuracy can only be speculated. The reply goes on to say ‘the majority of those are caused by peanuts’ – once again without citation. Even if these #s were accurate, this is not a statistically significant portion of the population. There is a huge gap here between perception and reality. As Mr. Mulder correctly pointed out, when you are told over and over that peanuts will kill you, you may well have a reaction when you believe you have been exposed to them. The problem is, it is a stress induced reaction (also called panic attack), NOT an allergy. The fact is, numerous peer reviewed studies have found serious food allergies to be incredibly rare, and life threatening reactions to be so rare as to approach statistical ZERO. The majority of self-reported allergics who have been actually studied do not react when given the supposed allergen in a controlled environment. So, if actual science determines that there is a real risk to a statistically significant portion of the population, I will gladly surrender my peanuts. The peanut people are correct about one thing, my enjoyment of a snack is not more important than actual lives. The thing is, it has not been proved, has not even been reasonably implied that my peanuts are putting ANYONE at risk.

    6/27/2010 12:59

    It seems all the so-called allergy sufferers are children, then keep them at home till they outgrow the allergy. We never heard of peanut allergy till a few years ago so what has happened? Most Americans are eating too much processed food and getting fat and sick. Get your self healthy again by eating properly and you probably will not have an allergy.
    What if I’m allergic to certain kinds of cloth that people wear? Then must we tell them to not get on the plane?
    I feel uneasy at the smell of some food people bring on the plane to eat. Shell we say no to all food period?
    Maybe we can not bring on any luggage as it may contain some substance that will cause someone to not feel good?
    Our government in-charge wants to control everything we do now, we must resist any more control or regulation of government into our lives. If this passes we can not eat peanuts on trains, taxis, school buses, subways or any public transportation.
    This discussion must be stopped by a federal judge now before it gets any further. I want my peanuts and no one should be able to tell me what I can eat.

    6/28/2010 12:09

    Mr. Aldrich:
    Please read the earlier posts on this topic. One would hope that you are a reasonable enough individual that if someone came to you and said that “Eating peanuts next to me could make me really sick – please don’t do that” that you would not choose to ‘resist’ this person.
    This is a matter of life and death to some people, so I would hope that, if faced with a situation, you would show others that you can be a considerate person (despite your message above).
    Thank you.

    6/28/2010 12:14

    On a plane 2 years ago, when my son was 3, he came into contact the carpeting below the seat and developed hives. We looked and saw an old peanut under the seat in front of us. He has a documented peanut allergy. I suspect that there was residual peanut in the carpet that he came into contact with.

    I am fairly certain that this 3 year-old boy he did not get hives because he was ‘stressed out’. Fortunately all he got was hives, but as best we could tell he did not have a serious ingestion (and our leg of the flight was peanut-free after we had notified the airline of his allergy at booking and check-in).

    Please also see posts above citing the peer reviewed medical literature regarding the prevalence of food allergies, and specifically peanut allergies, in children.

    So, while it is possible to have an IgE-mediated reaction solely from emotional stress, this was not the case here.

    Thank you.

    6/28/2010 13:07

    As you say yourself, the child just got hives. This is not a dangerous reaction. So, what is the problem? Why are you so overprotective that you want to impact the entire traveling public due to this minor incident? I’ve had hives before, they are unpleasant. So is hunger.

6/26/2010 05:44

I would like to see evidence that peanut dust on airplanes has actually caused problems before the DOT takes action. If there is such evidence, I think that allowing sensitive passengers to make an advance request for a peanut-free flight is a sensible balance between a light regulatory touch and accommodating the real needs of passengers at risk.

In fact, if I were an airline executive, I simply wouldn’t serve peanuts to avoid the problem–but there is a difference between good airline policy and what belongs in a hard-and-fast rule; the latter should be evidence-based and do the minimum required to solve the problem.

6/26/2010 22:59

My husband and I have always been big air travelers. 3 yrs ago we found out that my son (a year old at the time) had a peanut allergy. After blood tests confirmed the allergy, we took steps to make air travel “safer”. Some flights were still taken without many problems while others were the cause of us no longer flying together as a family or taking cross country trips. Another commenter mentioned how SWA gave them a “peanut free” flight after they told people they had an allergy. While this is a nice idea, it’s not really possible. Even if peanuts aren’t served on that flight, they have been served on that plane already. After telling 3 different people that our child was SEVERELY allergic, the ground ‘near’ us had peanuts all over it and sent my son into an asthmatic reaction. Thankfully he did not at the time go into full anaphylactic shock, but since then his IGA levels in his blood have continued to go up. This means it is very likely that he would have a more severe reaction to exposure the next time. We stopped flying about a year and a half ago. I think it is reasonable to say that if the food you are eating in an enclosed space with recycled air is going to kill a child, you can fore-go eating it for a few hours. And as for the argument of “perfume” being comparable, which if actually researched is very different, I do fore-go wearing perfumes on flights as well for that reason. Not a big deal to skip on it so the person near me can breath.
I just want to be able to take my family on airplanes without fearing for my child’s life. I appreciate that this is being considered and taken so seriously by the DOT!

6/27/2010 15:25

I would like to share a few words from a very intelligent and very prominent president, that I think helps with this discussion.

“You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.
You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.”-Abraham Lincoln

    6/28/2010 15:11

    Could you clarify how this quote helps us think about the best solution to the peanut allergy issue? The goal here is to have a discussion that will ultimately help DOT make better decisions about how to (or not to) regulate. Effective comments focus on the agency’s proposal and express concerns, suggestions, and recommendations clearly. See Effective Commenting on the Learn About Rulemaking page.

    8/30/2010 14:20

    Moderator – The quote illustrates the idea that the DOT should NOT ban peanuts because you are doing exactly the same kind of things the quote covers in an attempt to achieve something for those not willing to take the responsibility themselves.
    Do NOT ban peanut products unless you are willing to go the VERY many roads of banning other substances as well.

6/28/2010 14:16

My family would very much welcome an outright ban on airlines serving peanuts and peanut products. Our 3-year old daughter experiences anaphylactic reactions to several foods, including peanuts. Peanuts are the only one of her food allergies that seems to elicit a response, even if she has not ingested or touched it. For example, she’s had reactions after coming in close contact with boxed peanut cookies at the grocery store and when playing in the front yard with some neighbor’s kids. During these episodes, we’ve been able to give her an antihistamine, her inhaler, and if required, we’ll follow this with a trip to the ER where they administer a steroid. We stopped flying because there is not such a third option. One set of grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins live on the opposite coast and we have stopped traveling to visit them. Since our daughter was diagnosed with this peanut allergy, we have chosen not to endanger her life. We can still control much of her environment to ensure her physical safety but being on an airplane with peanuts is beyond our control.

    6/28/2010 14:33

    I do not have a peanut allergy, and I don’t know anyone with a peanut allergy, but I would be more than happy to do without peanuts regardless of the length of the flight if it would help reduce the risk for passengers with serious allergies. I don’t think it’s much of an inconvenience given how much is at stake.

    6/29/2010 23:53

    I suffer from a tree nut allergy, with sensitivity to peanuts. Like anyone who has an anaphylactic allergy, I always carry my epi-pen and benedryl everywhere I go. I always get nervous when flying at the thought of going into anaphylactic shock mid-air, and believe that something needs to be done to protect people with true food allergies. I think to start, serving peanuts should be banned. The degree of the allergy varies from person to person, but banning the actual product would help a lot of people right away. Food that might be shared on the same equipment or may contain nuts should still be allowed to respect the other side’s rights. I also think there should be peanut free seating on planes that are priority to people with allergies. That would eliminate the chance of my neighbor eating nuts. It’s a tough subject to debate. Maybe airlines should ask when purchasing a ticket as to whether or not they are traveling with someone who has an allergy. Based on answers, they can then plan for seating accordingly. Some baseball stadiums have peanut free sections, and airplanes should too!

    7/6/2010 09:46

    What about protecting people who aren’t allergic to peanuts from the very small minority that are allergic to them?

    Since you would ban peanuts, what other foods and other items should we also ban? Everyone is allergic to something, so using your reasoning, we’d be on a plane with no food, along with some other things, which would make it a very unpleasant flight for everyone involved.

    Banning peanuts will not protect anyone; they’re already onboard the aircraft, along with peanut dust in the fabric of the seats. The fact that nobody has ever died from anaphylactic shock due to peanut allergies on a U.S. airliner is clear evidence that the risk is so remote as to be non-existent.

    Instead of imagining the worst-case scenario and assuming it to be a certainty, try dealing with your irrational fears and live your life. If it was really as risky as you seem to believe, then you wouldn’t ever leave your home.

    6/30/2010 11:28

    I agree – I wouldn’t mind giving up peanuts on a flight at all. HOWEVER, expecting that i will remember not to have any contact with peanuts prior to boarding is just not reasonable. I agree with the poster above who stated they don’t know why airlines haven’t gotten rid of peanut bags already. Honestly, however much allergy sufferers would like a peanut free world, in practicality (and i think most understand/agree with me) it isn’t possible in the foreseeable future to prevent contamination.

    As good intentioned as even the most diligent people can try to be, there WILL be mistakes, even with a super strict ban. Placing a full ban will most likely cause more trouble than do any good. Stop serving bags of peanuts than can be airborne. Request passengers not consume loose nuts, especially raw nuts. But, don’t expect passengers to forgo all nut products prior to and during a trip. Even if they wanted to, I doubt it really would be in the front of peoples minds as they are packing/rushing for an airport.

    6/30/2010 11:30

    * I meant, stop serving bags that can cause airborne particles. Sorry, formatting and proofing seem to be a bit off in Google Chrome.

7/1/2010 03:25

My son is severely allergic to peanuts and has allergic reactions as a result of being around people eating peanuts due to the peanut dust in the air.

We had to travel internationally and were able to work with the airline to book peanut free roundtrip flights after submitting a letter from my son’s allergist. The airline did everything they could including serving snacks without peanuts, putting allergy alert stickers on our seats, and making an announcement asking passengers to refrain from eating their peanut snacks.

My son was fine going to our destination but had an allergic reaction within minutes of being seated for our return trip. Since he didn’t eat any peanuts, we gave him some benadryl, moved him to a different row, and wiped down his new seat.

We were fortunate that his reaction was not severe enough to require an epi-pen injection and a trip to the hospital in another country. We suspect that he was reacting to peanut residue in the area of his seat from the previous flight. We may not be so lucky next time because we have been told that the next reaction is even stronger than the last.

Even though we were on a peanut-free fight, my son still was not safe because of the peanut residue on the plane from a previous flight. If peanuts are banned on all flights, my son would have been safe.

When an allergic reaction occurs high up in the sky over a huge ocean, and an epi-pen injection can only give a person an extra 20 minutes, there is not enough time to turn the plane around and take the person to the hospital. I believe that it is reasonable to ban peanuts from airline flights if that assures the safety of a passenger that has a severe peanut allergy. This decision could mean life or death for someone.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration to ban peanuts from flights.

    7/2/2010 10:21

    Thank you for your comment. One of the more difficult questions the DOT faces, if they decide to ban peanuts, is which products must be banned, and which are acceptable. Do you have any thoughts on this issue? Are products with only trace amounts of peanuts still dangerous?

    8/30/2010 14:25

    Moderator – The problem is if you ban any food product you’ve just opened the door to ban every food product, perfumes, and an uncountable number of other things. Regulated bans always result in follow-on bans which steadily increase restrictions for problems that are better solved by individual responsibility vice government rules.

    8/30/2010 14:22

    Once again, a reaction “not severe enough to…”. Here is the problem. No one has ever died on an airplane from a peanut allergy. The problem that the DOT is trying to fix here doesn’t exist. People have all kinds of allergic reactions in all kinds of places but I don’t know of anyone dying from ANY allergic reaction onboard an airplane. If there is such a case can someone please post a link to NTSB documentation?

7/4/2010 17:02

While a study on the effect airborne peanut dust in an aircraft has on people with peanut allergies is important, legislators should not solely rely on such a study when considering a peanut ban on aircrafts. Other sources of peanut exposure on aircraft are also a large problem. Crumbs, peanut/peanut butter residue, and whole peanuts are regularly found on seats, in seat back pockets, on floors, and on tray tables from previous flights despite flight attendants’ and cleaning crews’ best efforts to clean the cabin.

My 4-year old daughter has a severe peanut allergy in addition to other food allergies not in consideration for this bill. We limit our flying to destinations beyond a 13-hour drive by car. We try to fly peanut-allergy-friendly airlines when it is not cost prohibitive. When we do board an aircraft, we use baby wipes to clean our entire row of seats, seat belts, tray tables, and the seat back in front of us to remove peanut dust and residue. In spite of our best efforts to minimize allergen exposure to our daughter, flying is still a very stressful event. The few times we have flown, she invariably sneezes, scratches, and breaks out in hives; a far cry from anaphylaxis (which she has experienced, unfortunately), but still a real possibility that keeps us on edge throughout the entire flight.

We do carry EpiPens and Benadryl everywhere we go, but for those who think having medication on hand in case of an allergic reaction is analogous to having spare Pampers on hand to change to dirty diaper, you are incredibly out of touch with reality, uninformed on the issue, or both. For anyone to maintain that their hunger “satisfaction” from a 100-calorie bag of peanuts is more important than the safety and/or life of a human being is blatantly insensitive and ignorant.

Take peanuts off of planes. Safety first.

    7/5/2010 10:53

    Thanks for sharing your personal story with us, PracticalJo. Your experiences and suggestions are welcome and encouraged on other parts of the proposed rule as well.

    As a reminder, the matter that you all are commenting on is a proposed rule, not a proposed bill. It will be put into force by the DOT according to its legislative mandate, following standard administrative law procedures.

    7/6/2010 09:09

    So, PracticalJo is saying that no matter what she does, her daughter always gets hives, itches, and sneezes while flying, supposedly from peanut allergens. That is pure nonsense. If her daughter had taken Benadryl before boarding the plane, it prevents those very things from happening. Even so, there’s no reason to remove peanuts from planes for the very minute chance that someone will suffer anaphalactic shock due to peanut allergies.

    You can’t make all risks go away, so there’s no point in trying. And you cannot remove peanut allergens from an airliner unless you take out all the seats and the subfloor, which the airlines aren’t going to do. That would also drive up the cost for a flight dramatically, to the point that the average person cannot afford to fly anymore.

    Instead of living your life in a state of fear over something that is so unlikely to happen, get professional help for yourself. You’re not doing your child any favors by creating needless anxiety for them everywhere they go.

    7/7/2010 08:31

    It is plain to see Mulder is uninformed on this topic. Instead of chiding people from the “peanut” gallery perched in a factual void, take some time to go talk to an allergy specialist, attend a lecture on the matter, do some research from reputable sources, or even get to know someone with multiple severe food allergies and see exactly how their lives are affected. Take the time to truly educate yourself on the topic, then perhaps you could offer the constructive solutions I believe DOT is looking for instead of flaming others from behind your irrational fear of losing peanut snacks on an aircraft.

    7/8/2010 14:01

    PracticalJo is the one who is uninformed. Reputable sources will confirm that actual severe food allergies of any kind are extremely rare, and life threatening ones are nearly non-existent. There are certainly not “millions of children” who could die from peanut exposure. As far as speaking to someone who suffers several severe food allergies, I’ve spoken to a few who CLAIM that status – hypochondriacs all. These allergies are mostly imagined. There are intolerances to various foods, that is not an allergy and will cause discomfort but not death. Even those with actual allergies are not in any danger of dying – just mild discomfort. Hives and itching are not life threatening conditions. The point is not that I ‘need’ peanuts. The point is I refuse to make accommodations for baseless fears. There is not one person on this board reporting an actual death. If there were any actual risk, the survivors of a peanut victim would be all over this board telling the tragic story. Instead what we get are a bunch of wild-eyed claims without any basis in fact. It would be more valid to claim that airlines must increase leg room to avoid deaths due to deep vein thrombosis-which has actually happened.

    7/8/2010 20:45

    Here is a good place to begin your research http://www.mssm.edu/profiles/hugh-a-sampson Mount Sinai Medical School and the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute is one of, if not the, premier institute in the country working to solve the food allergy mystery.

    Indeed, millions of Americans have food allergies and unfortunately many people die each year due to allergic reactions to certain foods. Personally, we have only had one ER trip to save our daughter’s life due to a reaction. I hope we never have to go through that again.

7/4/2010 20:31

It is not only airborne particles that are problematical, it is also the crumbs, whole peanuts that “get away” from the passenger (i.e., dropped on floor or in seat), and residue left behind on seats, seat belts, floors, tray tables and other surfaces. Ingestion or contact can trigger severe reactions.

Take peanuts and items containing peanuts/peanut butter (e.g., trail mix, peanut butter crackers) off of airplanes. This is all the airlines need to do. Most airlines already have a suitable replacement snack.

Anyone with a severe allergy already has EpiPens or other medications. Airlines need not provide these.

Take peanuts off of planes. Safety first.

    7/5/2010 10:47

    Thanks for your comment, PracticalJo. How do you think airlines should deal with the transition period? Perhaps the airlines should be required to have their planes cleaned according to some protocol that would ensure that peanut allergens were safely removed from the plane, too?

    7/5/2010 18:00

    As an outsider to the airline industry, it is hard for me to say what level of cleaning currently occurs on an aircraft. Obviously, on quick turnaround layovers, flight crews only have time for a cursory cleaning. Does a more thorough or a standard cleaning take place in the evenings after the last flight of the day? I don’t know. If so, perhaps repeated standard cleanings without further peanut exposure would be sufficient?

    The rule probably has the best chance of being enacted if it minimizes overall cost to the airline industry while meeting the desired safety requirements. Personally, I would be satisfied if the rule simply called for removal of peanuts from aircraft and allowed the airlines to put forth a good faith effort at cleaning their fleets.

    8/30/2010 14:27

    Moderator – a classic example above. Don’t just ban peanuts, ban everything that might contain something which may have encountered a peanut or peanut product in it’s life. Once you start a ban on one product, you better be prepared for more and more demands to ban a lot of other items.

Gym
7/6/2010 12:44

Auto-injection of epinephrine is not a guarantee the a severe reaction will be diminished and fatality avoided. It’s an additive measure to the most important precaution: avoiding the allergen.

One can argue that allergic individuals should take care, avoid known allergens, etc. I work non-stop to educate my young child regarding her peanut and other allergies. She is knowledgeable and self-advocates, but that in and of itself does not prevent accidents. If switching from peanuts/tree nuts to something more benign saves even one life, then it will have been worth the inconvenience to all those that insist their constitutional rights to in-flight peanuts not be trampled upon.

Small children and the severely allergic need this in-flight peanut/peanut products ban the most. Should we straight jacket our toddlers/preschoolers to ensure they keep their fingers out of their mouths, or can you eat some pretzels instead, please?

    8/30/2010 14:29

    Gee, if all children are so bad at avoiding the peanut products they are allergic to why aren’t they dropping dead by the thousands each day? They’re not because in general they’re not morons and their allergies are not at the level of being deadly.
    If your argument is that it might save ONE life therefore it is worth it, then you better ban flying all together since more people have died in plane accidents than from peanut allergies.

smr
7/6/2010 17:23

There are two main factions here:
a) those who believe that it is right to help the few to live life to the fullest of their abilities, and
b) those who believe that no-one has the right to pass laws they do not agree with .
And it is very obvious that a consensus will not be agreed upon here.

I would like to thank the DOT for having the courage to bring this matter up and to ask for comments from the public, especially after being told by Congress in 1998 to drop the matter or risk having funding removed. No doubt the peanut lobby played a major part in that directive.

Those who have legitimate life threatening allergies (and there are many) have a right to be heard. Unfortunately, there appear to be many who wish to snuff out these voices because certain rights may be impeded.

Congress should listen to the doctors and scientists who study these disabilities and allow the experts to make their honest recommendations. I understand that the peanut lobby will probably want their say, but money should not outweigh logic and science.

I would prefer a total ban on peanut and tree nut foods being served on flights.

My granddaughter has been medically diagnosed as having several allergies, including these two items. We are not hysterical, and we would be much happier if these allergies could disappear or be cured. Unfortunately, the science is not there yet. So, the family must all read labels, call companies when the labels are not clear, talk with restaurants, take “safe” food with us when no other solution is possible, and always carry a bag with any possibly required medications. We accept these as our responsibility.

We are restricted from being able to take family vacations very far from home because of the negative attitudes of the airline companies, or lack of choices because of living next to a Delta hub. This does not affect one person, this affects 12! I would have thought that the airlines would have taken this into account when looking at their bottom dollar, but Delta has stated that they will not restrict peanuts because their home is in Georgia!

The negative comments from some of the writers posted here are not helpful in defining what is the correct solution to allow allergy sufferers, and their families, to fly.

Get the feedback from the experts, make logical decisions, and fund the research into finding cures or relief for those suffering from the disability of life threatening allergies. All life threatening allergies! But please do not wait until someone dies before acting.

    7/6/2010 18:33

    Thank you for the comment smr. If you are aware of any scientific research on the subject, the DOT is interested to know about it. Could peanut free flights or a peanut free zone be effective as an alternative to a full ban?

    7/7/2010 00:28

    There are several institutions researching peanut allergies. Duke University Medical Center, National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and The Johns Hopkins University Medical Center all have prominent, reputable, knowledgeable experts in this field studying this problem. I doubt any immunologist or allergy specialist will provide a universal radius for the DOT to establish a peanut-free zone on an aircraft. A single person can have varied reactions from being exposed to the same amount of the same allergen on different days. Now factor in every other peanut allergy sufferer in the country and you have yourself a multivariate problem of the grandest magnitude. With this many variables to solve for, the simplest and most effective solution is a buffer radius of infinity (i.e., no peanuts or peanut products in the cabin).

    I realize this scientific data is the key to removing the Congressionally-imposed funding restrictions, but it seems like common sense should prevail on issues of passenger safety and the study should simply be a formality.

    Removing peanuts and peanut products from aircraft will significantly reduce the probability of an anaphylactic reaction in-flight the same way routine aircraft maintenance significantly reduces the probability of aircraft failures. The airline industry does not wait for parts to fail, planes to crash, and people to die before trying to maintain an aircraft does it?

    Regarding peanut free flights, Southwest Airlines has been the most accommodating in our experience. With enough advance notification, they will withhold serving peanuts on our flight(s) and provide an alternative snack for the passengers. We try to take the first flight of the day to minimize peanut residue and crumbs that are found with greater frequency as the day wears on. We also wipe our entire row of seats, tray tables, seat belts and the seat back in front of us with baby wipes when we board. With this self-imposed protocol in place, my 4-year old daughter has avoided severe reactions from exposure to a peanut allergen on an aircraft, although she does spend most of the flight sneezing, scratching, and rubbing her eyes while we’re on the edge of our seat looking for signs of a stronger reaction.

    There is not a person on this planet that will die because they did not receive a peanut snack on their flight. There are millions of people (most of them children) who could die due to some form of exposure to a peanut allergen on their flight. This is a no-brainer…take the darn peanuts off of the planse.

    7/7/2010 08:22

    planes*

7/7/2010 17:18

I can’t believe there is any debate on this at all, since there are no emergency rooms at 40,000 feet! It should be obvious to those for whom passenger safety is a priority that all peanut products should be banned from aircraft. Standard disclaimer I am one of those who is severely allergic to peanuts – for me exposure to even the slightest bit of dust is potentially fatal. I don’t have to eat them. Once, I went into Anaphylaxis when a co-worker from a previous shift left some peanut oil and residue on a shared workstation. Remember, aircraft at altitude generally pressurize the cabin to 10,000 feet and when hundreds of those little bags packed at sea level are opened, the pressure difference propels the dust straight into the air…which I should remind everyone is not fresh air from outside but instead recirculated cabin air, so the offensive particles remain. There’s no air exchange on a commercial aircraft, you’re stuck with what you’ve got and yes I do carry two epi-pens but as others have already stated an epi-pen is only effective for 10-15 minutes and when deployed you must also report to an emergency room asap! I have a friend who is allergic to a different food item but she hit her epi-pen once and had a stroke! Epi-pens are not without risk. I’d much rather not use mine. In fact, I’d rather not die in an aircraft because some selfish “personal rights” idiot wanted his bag of peanuts.

7/7/2010 17:33

In response to the post from a member comparing religious dietary restrictions to allergies (not serving pork on a flight with muslims, for example) that is not a valid analogy. Domestic flights don’t serve food anyway, but for those that do include meals are more than happy to serve you a variety of meal types (diabetic, kosher, vegetarian etc) if you just ask. Plus I’ve never seen a pig fly – it’s highly unlikely pork particles will become airborne and float about the cabin to offend someone with a religious sensitivity.

7/9/2010 14:37

I follow a high-protein low-carbohydrate diet to control reactive hypoglycemia. My diet requires small meals throughout the day. Before the advent of TSA restrictions on carry-on liquids, I was able to pack coldcut sandwiches with an ice pack in my carry-on luggage. Since ice packs are no longer allowed, I rely on peanuts and peanut products to meet my dietary needs while traveling, as they are non-perishable. If peanuts were no longer allowed on flights, it would be challenging to find an acceptable non-perishable that would meet my dietary needs. I cannot rely on airlines to serve snacks that I can eat and, when peanuts are offered, they are usually the only snack that would not precipitate a hypoglycemic reaction (meat-product jerky is not an acceptable option).

I understand that peanut allergies are life-threatening, as is hypoglycemia. In the interest of accommodating both sets of needs, I suggest that airlines offer a high-protein snack, such as cheese sticks (perhaps by pre-request). I also suggest that airlines offer environmentally-controlled sections for travelers with peanut allergies.

    7/10/2010 13:09

    Thank you for your comment. You raise an interesting issue about finding the right balance to accommodate everyone’s needs.

7/9/2010 14:47

I fly 2-4 times a year and will avoid flying if possible. I am allergic to all nuts. The allergy is airborne. I have had reactions to people eating nuts around me including difficulty breathing, eyes swollen shut, rash, hives. From consuming a mislabled product I almost died and required immediate ER care. When I fly, my biggest concern is the AMOUNT of nuts on the plane, because the more nuts, the stronger the reaction. If airlines could just be required to make an announcement asking people to voluntarily not consume nuts on a flight, and not be responsible for enforcing it, even that would make a difference in my ability to live through a flight. I only fly Jet Blue, they only serve cashews as snacks and sometimes will substitute another snack if I request in advance (when they refuse I do not get on the plane). What I have started doing is handing out preprinted cards that explain my allergy. I pass them out at the gate as people are waiting to board. The vast majority of people were very open and cooperative. So, the majority of the plane was nut-free. There may have been one person who consumed nuts, but I did not have a reaction so I don’t think there was. However, letting all the people know is better than not telling them, because most people are understanding and don’t want to risk emergency landing. If the DOT just asks airlines to make that announcement, and then leave it up to passengers to comply, that would be a step in the right direction. I bring Lysol wipes on board every flight and clean my row off in preboarding. I bring two epipens, benadryl, and my health insurance info. I always call ahead at least twice and write down the time and date and the name of the representative I spoke with about my allergy. This is what many have to do in order to fly. How was cigarette smoking banned on planes? Maybe DOT should mirror the same process for allergens. Were there second hand smoke studies? How and where were they conducted? How were the tobacco companies compensated for their loss of revenue?

7/11/2010 14:47

Banning peanuts is lunacy! Allergy sufferers know they have an issue. What next? Ban peanuts from being outside or in a kids lunchbox to prevent any exposure anywhere? Lets get real! A simple warning peanuts may be present on a flight should suffice!

7/11/2010 22:14

I am not a peanut allergy sufferer, but as a physician, I have both taken care of children with acute peanut allergies, and also responded to calls for physicians on flights. The equipment and conditions available on a flight are laughable for a true emergency, and I truly don’t see what the problem is with banning peanuts and products with peanuts in them on flights. There is plenty of other food to eat, and this seems like the most sensible, civil solution. I don’t want to be the one trying to maintain a kid’s airway while the pilot lands the plane emergently, and I’m sure other travelers don’t want to have their flight interrupted by such an occurrence.

    7/12/2010 23:34

    Because an airport cabin is a confined space (with limited outside air circulation) there is a very real possibility that a person with a peanut allergy could actually die from exposure. There is absolutely no need for other passengers to have peanuts with a total disregard for the safety (and life) of a fellow passenger.

    A similar problem, that should also be addressed, along with the peanut allergy problem, is the case of allowing small domestic pets in the cabin of a aircraft. People with allergic sensitivity to dog and cat dander are in danger of dying from an acute asthma attack. These animals are being stored under the seat in front of the pet owner which may be directly under an asthmatic passenger. Additionally, many pet owners do not keep these animals in their carriers for the entire flight which increases the chance of exposure. Even when there are no animals on a particular flight, their presence on previous flights (and the lack of thorough cleaning) means that their dander is still present and a hazard to asthma sufferers. Service animals are often allowed on the seats of many flights by the cabin crews which can be deadly to an asthmatic occupying that seat on a subsequent flight.

    7/13/2010 11:59

    You raise a point which underscores the reasons why such bans are inappropriate. People who have such conditions (and/or their parents/caretakers/etc.) have the ultimate responsibility to themselves to determine risks to their unusual sensitivities, and to be prepared to deal with the consequences of exposure should they decide to accept those risks. Your “disability” does not give you the right to infringe indiscriminately upon others. Too often people seem to think they are “special” and deserve more consideration and privilege than the “normal” masses. Your rights end where mine begin.
    You do not have the right to keep me off a flight because I have a cat and its dander may be on my clothing, due to your rare sensitivity. You should make whatever travel arrangements are necessary to accommodate your unusual needs.
    You do not have the right to keep me off a flight because I had peanuts for lunch and their dust may be on my clothing, because you have a rare allergy. You should make whatever travel arrangements are necessary to accommodate your unusual needs.
    If we start down this road eventually we will all have to fly naked, freshly showered, and hungry. What about latex? What about the myriad other substances which might be triggers?
    Why should the DOT single out certain sensitivities and not others?
    What if I have a heart condition and a severe phobia of red-haired men which can trigger a fatal heart attack? Do I have the right to demand that red-haired men not be allowed to fly on a plane with me? That they either shave their head, dye their hair, or fly somewhere else? After all, it’s only a little inconvenient to dye your hair, versus the risk to my life, right? Give me a break.
    Your needs are YOUR responsibility.
    The DOT should allow airlines to voluntarily accommodate if they so choose (and if they do, they are responsible for notifying all other passengers and offering compensation to those who, for example, may not be able to travel without their service animals), but not require any bans.

    K

    7/13/2010 12:21

    Thank you for your comment, mithrandir. What type of action would be effective; would peanut free zones be enough? (or pet free zones) Could airlines make certain flights peanut free upon prior request, and use clean planes for those flights?

    7/18/2010 16:00

    I do not know of any other food allergies that can be lethal without consuming the food. Peanut allergy can be deadly even if a person just breathes the vapor/dust. On the other hand, I doubt there is anyone who will die if peanuts are not allowed on a flight. There are many other foods that can be consumed as a snack without endangering anyone’s life. I know I risk upsetting pet owners, but why can’t pets be carried in pressurized heated/air-conditioned cargo holds as before? I believe that larger pets are still accommodated this way on most airlines.

    7/19/2010 10:16

    Moderator, I’d just like to clarify that the short Gwamma answer to your question for Mithrandir was actually an answer by Mithrandir. My computer is in the shop, I’m using Mithrandir’s computer, and I forgot to logout. Mithrandir answered your question, but it showed up as Gwamma. The long Gwamma post was from me.

    7/19/2010 12:35

    Thanks for the heads up. We will keep that in mind.

7/13/2010 14:06

Since it seems to be getting lost in the shuffle, I’ll say it again. If this was a real issue – ie: one that has an actual chance of happening, this board would be filled with tragic tales of dead loved ones killed by the evil peanut. NOT ONE SUCH STORY APPEARS HERE!!! It hasn’t happened. It wont happen. It is doubtful that it ever could happen. When people start actually getting injured, I’ll consider giving up my peanuts. Until then, you peanut people are revealing yourselves as hysterical chicken littles crowing about the sky falling.

7/14/2010 12:18

Okay, here’s a question, what is the limiting factor on banning something? How many people have to be affected before you cross the line and ban a product? Should the ban only be put in place if there is a potential for death? If so, how great a potential is required? If one in a hundred people might die should it be banned? What if it is one in ten thousand? Or a million? I keep reading people talk about the effect on them or their family and I understand their concern, but I also see them shrugging off the impact that anyone else feels there is on them (the greater flying public) as if that doesn’t matter because “their” situation is more important. Bans are bad things, bottom line. And banning things to accommodate a very small minority IS an infringement on the rest of society and their concerns are just as valid to them as your concerns are to you.

7/15/2010 19:54

It would be prudent for a study to be done on this issue to fully understand it. Right now parents, myself included, chose not to fly for fear of their child having a severe reaction in a highly inconvenient place. Personally, I can’t tell you that my son would die on a plane, but I can’t promise you that he wouldn’t have an anaphylactic reaction that could be very life threatening. A study would answer the questions as to how often it is an issue, how many people have this issue, and how they chose to fly because of it. There are currently too many unknowns.
In public and private schools, peanuts are frequently banned because it is viewed as a disability and would prevent these children from attending school. That fact alone seems to show that it makes sense to consider a ban in other arenas as well.

7/16/2010 20:16

No one dies of a lack of peanuts but people can and do die of peanut allergies. I live in Hawaii where a 6 hour flight is required to go anywhere. My granddaughter’s peanut allergy was discovered from a kiss from her mother that had eaten a peanut butter sandwich. Mom didn’t have any obvious peanut butter on her. People eating peanuts and touching the bathroom or left on the seats could cause a reaction at 30,000 feet. Epipens buy you 15 minutes. The Doctor says we can do that twice. That won’t save her if she is out over the ocean. Please ban peanuts altogether.

7/18/2010 05:22

We ban smoking on aircraft because of the long term health risks. Banning nuts is similar – except that the health risk is immediate.

Two published studies for you
Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2008 Jul;101(1):51-6.Allergic reactions to peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds aboard commercial airliners.Comstock SS, DeMera R, Vega LC, Boren EJ, Deane S, Haapanen LA, Teuber SS.Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Clinical Immunology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, Davis, California, USA.

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999 Jul;104(1):186-9.Self-reported allergic reactions to peanut on commercial airliners.Sicherer SH, Furlong TJ, DeSimone J, Sampson HA.Division of Pediatric Allergy/Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA.

7/18/2010 05:43

For those who wish to deny an increase in the level of peanut allergy – a study of anaphylaxis severe enough to require hospital admission. This shows a greater increase than self-reported studies.

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2008 Oct;101(4):387-93.

Increasing anaphylaxis hospitalizations in the first 2 decades of life: New York State, 1990 -2006.
Lin RY, Anderson AS, Shah SN, Nurruzzaman F.

Department of Medicine, St Vincent’s Hospital-Manhattan-SVCMC, New York, New York 10011, USA. robert_lin@nymc.edu

Until airlines can filter air to exclude peanut protein peanuts should be banned on flights.

    7/19/2010 13:28

    Thanks for sharing those studies with us, Buzzard. We will see that they get to the DOT. In the mean time, please feel free to share your thoughts on other parts of the rule. Your’s is just the kind of input we need.

7/18/2010 13:13

As a consultant and VERY frequent traveler, I can appreciate others’ comments regarding perfumes and other allergies. However, as the father of a child with a life-threatening peanut allergy, I believe the DOT’s distinction in this regard is well warranted. Speaking from one family’s perspective, I’d estimate that the cost of this risk to the airlines is about $4,000 annually in our “non-purchased” airfares – we have the resources and inclination to travel, but refrain due to the risk.

The “three row” practice isn’t sufficient. Airplanes are closed environments and cross-contamination is equally important to airborne transmission. More importantly, “eating peanuts aboard a plane” is NOT a “right”, it is a “convenience”.

I support regulation restricting airlines from having peanuts or peanut-inclusive/based products on-board for all commercial flights regardless of the aircraft size, the flight segment being flown, etc.

That said, although I don’t believe that an airline should have the authority to restrict a passenger from bringing peanut products aboard a flight and consuming thereon, I strongly believe that all passengers should be made aware of the fact that they may be liable for doing so. Once informed of the risks of cross-contamination, their willingness to do so makes them culpable and potentially criminally negligent.

Certainly someone’s selfish need to consume peanuts on a plane and consequently placing my daughter’s life in jeopardy, does NOT supersede her “right to life”!

7/18/2010 15:30

If a flight contains a passenger or passengers, who present or forewarn the airline of this condition by providing a doctors certificate as to existence of severe allergic reaction to the presence of such foods then that passenger must be accommodated.

    jrc
    8/29/2010 12:21

    I agree.

7/18/2010 15:44

I am highly allergic to cats, and somewhat allergic to dogs. I have stopped flying since pets have been allowed in the cabin. I was part of a Johns Hopkins cat allergy study because I have severe asthma attacks in the presence of cats. They tested me by putting me in a room with caged cats. I am able to be in the presence of a cat owner because they don’t usually jump around spreading dander from their clothing. I just have to refrain from hugging them. I’m not likely to hug a fellow passenger.
I made the mistake of sitting in a front seat on a SW flight to California from Maryland, last November. I went through 2 bags of cough drops because the tickle in my throat would not stop. Once I left the plane, the irritation ceased. I saw on my return flight that a service dog was sitting in the seat I had been in on the way out. That must be why I reacted. I then sat in a seat farther back. That would work out if service dogs were all that was allowed. The fact that dogs and cats are now allowed and may be anywhere in the cabin, makes it possibly deadly for me. I cannot leave the plane at 30,000 feet in the air. I usually take my inhaler and leave the area of contamination.
I was on those flights because I did not realize there had been a change in SW policy. I was in line to board the plane before I realized there had been a change. The return trip was also booked and paid for.
I do not know why people are upset about pets not being allowed in the cabin. It’s just been recently that this has been allowed. I now travel cross country by car and call ahead to be sure that the hotel room does not allow pets. That’s getting harder to find now, too.
The peanut allergy people are even in a worse position than I am. Their sensitivity is even more acute. I fail to understand why so many people are so selfish that they cannot give up peanuts for a few hours. Also, why can’t your pet fly in the luggage compartment like they used to do? I understand that they do air condition those compartments when pets are in them. Making sure those compartments are comfortable is a good solution.
For those who require a protein snack. I remember SW used to give snacks that had little sausages and cheese packets in them. Why can’t we go back to that? I know that even lactose intolerant people would be able to eat the sausage and maybe even the cheese (depending on their sensitivity). I know that people allergic to dairy do not react to touching something a cheese eater has touched. They must consume the product.
It is documented that there are a large number of people allergic to cats and dogs and a pretty good number of people allergic to peanuts. I do not think that fear of red hair is a documented problem large enough to be considered. I noticed perfume was also mentioned. My husband and I are also sensitive to perfumes but we haven’t really had a problem with overly scented passengers. If that is a problem, why do people need to douse themselves in perfume for a flight? We already are limited in what we can bring in our carryons. Why not just state, no peanuts, no pets, no perfumes? I think those are the major problems for allergies.
Maybe just looking at peanut allergies is too narrow.
Canada’s lung association is currently fighting the concept of pets being allowed in Canadian Airline cabins. I think we need to take a look at what’s happening there. There must be a reason for it.

Dob
7/20/2010 19:54

I have two sister in laws and a brother in law and two friends that have children that are allergic to peanuts and/ or all nuts. On a flight with American airlines I was with my sister in law that is deadly allergic to peanuts. I asked the flight attendant not to sell peanuts on the flight. She came back with the regulation book explaining that the company policy was not to accommodate her. I did clearly explain that if peanut dust is in the air it will cause her a sever assma attack. They did nothing to help us and did offer to sell peanuts on the flight. My sister in law took benadrel and was very scard for the entire flight. She did get filled up but didn’t have an attack. She is very afraid to fly. Why don’t they just serve snacks that don’t have the potential to kill someone!!!!!

7/20/2010 22:36

As a 75K-mile annual flyer, I travel a lot. I’ve seen plenty of rules be flouted, and this one just begs for it.

The real danger here is lulling peanut allergy suffers into false sense of security. Under a ban, an airline might eliminate all peanut-related items from their snacks, but pax may bring onboard peanut-related items. And if the potential for peanut residue to become airborne exists, then the ban will be for naught if pax privately bring their own.

This will, of course, lead to lawsuts against airlines, who have no real way of enforcing a ban against pax who bring the stuff onboard.

My concern here is that the airlines will become scapegoats for the misdeeds of private individuals. The ban should not be put into effect.

One more consideration: plenty of people are severely allergic to ANY nuts or nut-related products, with complications including death. What’s next: a ban on ALL nut products? Then what, a ban on, say, all perfumes and colognes? Hairspray? Clothes that have been drycleaned?

While I feel for the allergy sufferers (my nephew is one such young man, to such a degree that he is at risk of DYING should he even touch a nut), they are simply the leading edge of a complete ban on everything onboard planes.

Say NO to this ban. Allergy sufferers, please bring that epi-pen, or if your allergy is so serious, please do not fly.

7/21/2010 10:28

I urge strong consideration of a complete ban on peanuts during all domestic flights.
Due to severe peanut allergy, I can now only fly on flights that ban peanuts completely. I live in Minnesota where Delta recently purchased Northwest Airlines (Northwest was peanut-free). A peanut-free buffer zone is not sufficient protection from air that is circulated throughout a plane’s cabin. Nor does such a zone protect from peanut residue left behind from previous flights.
It seems illogical to serve a highly allergy-inducing product on airliners at 30,000 feet when unlimited other snack options exist. I can only surmise that a strong lobby effort and financial incentives have kept peanuts on airplanes, to the peril of allergic individuals (customers) and the liability of the carriers.

7/25/2010 19:23

Although I understand the seriousness of the issue for those with severe reactions I think an outright ban would be the only effective way to reduce the danger. However, you will not be able to prevent individual travelers from purchasing and transporting their own stash.

I have been flying internationally and domestically for 59 years and never encountered an incidence of an allergic reaction on any flight.

I feel that any individual with such a severe reaction needs to take the necessary precautions personally and not ask the airline to provide them.

7/26/2010 19:34

While I have some concerns about what else people might want banned, I have no problem with a peanut ban. I think it would be easier on the airlines to either never have peanuts, or use something else when someone with an allergy is flying. A bubble around the person(s) puts too much responsibility on the flight crew that has other things to worry about. Since people could be switched to a flight at the last minute, and changing snacks already loaded could be a problem, I suspect this would just ban peanuts completely. While I agree that people with allergies should be ready to deal with problems, I do not consider telling people with severe problems to just not fly to be reasonable. Taking a boat to other continents is not a reasonable option, nor is keeping people from visiting them.

    7/31/2010 13:28

    Practically how can a peanut ban be enforced? I eat a lot of peanut products and travel with peanut butter M&M’s as there are many things I do not eat and I find them to be a a great snack, that does not go off after a few days. The only problem is that sometimes the bag opens and so their are crumbs at the bottom of my bags and maybe my hangs are not so clean when I opened the zipper and so on. If I was told last minute I cannot take my peanut butter products on board will the airline have to make sure they have suitable alternative snacks available for me to eat? Surely the highly allergic peanut people will be at risk from the peanut crumbs/ dust on my clothes and hands (which may have brushed their headrest as I walked past)? Let those who can’t cope with peanuts take cars ,boats and trains

    7/31/2010 13:33

    I don’t mind of the airlines no longer hand out peanuts but to make me feel responsible for a reaction to the food products I may be carrying/ have recently eaten is “passing the buck”. Will peanuts be banned from all airports?

    Why don’t those who are severely allergic to peanuts start their own schools and arrange their own charter flights?

    As for the allergic Captain – there are many people who cannot follow the career they would like to for health reasons e.g the dentist who develops a tremor, the nurse with a back problem. Maybe you should look into a peanut free airline or another career.

7/30/2010 23:15

This is impossible to regulate. Government should stay clear of this as it would equate to a search of bags to look for contraband. What is next? You fly with germs and people who are ill and yet nobody is restricting the airline to clean their planes and stop ill passengers from boarding international flights. People need to understand there is risk in everything and the government can’t regulate everything.

8/2/2010 07:20

Of Course peanuts SHOULD BE banned on airplanes! Would you serve poison to your passengers? Even if just a few could die? People who post things like the perfume comment do not understand while smelly perfume can be annoying, food allergies can be deadly and it can happen quickly. Pretzels are a safe alternative and any passenger that is missing peanuts so much on their flight can eat all the peanut butter and peanuts they want when they get home. Thank you for protecting those who need it.

8/3/2010 16:23

I think peanuts should be banned from planes. I don’t care about them one way or the other, and if it would allow someone with a peanut allergy to fly, then great!

8/4/2010 10:12

Where is the peer-reviewed study? Where is the evidence that the deathly peanut syndrome is recognized and generally accepted in the applicable scientific community? We have tons of anecdotal evidence, but this is one where hard, verifiable, replicable evidence is needed. If peanuts are life-threatening, then surely there are cost-efficient equivalents. Frankly, I avoid airlines “snacks”–they interfere with my drinking.

8/5/2010 01:11

While something should be done to protect severe allergy-sufferers, they constitute a tiny portion of the population and it should not be necessary to ban all peanut products from all flights – surely some limited zone with advance notice should suffice. My personal concern – I have a problem with low blood sugar, and peanut butter is one of the few good, transportable sources of protein that does not need refrigeration. Because there is now generally either no food at all or at least no healthful, appetizing food on most flights, and with the possibility of long tarmac delays and storm detours, I always bring with me one or more sandwiches of peanut butter on whole grain bread. On a long flight, I could have real problems if they are banned.

    8/6/2010 20:28

    I too have issues with the lack of healthy appealing food on flights. I have many food allergies (including peanuts) and have trouble getting items through TSA security. It’s a real pain.

    I’m flying in the morning and I’m trying to find things I can bring through that will allow me to eat healthfully on a cross country flight.

    I wish they’d let me bring my portable protein drinks with me.

8/6/2010 19:48

The DOT is correct to consider allergies like this a disability. Having several food allergies, including peanuts and tree nuts I am dismayed by the number of airlines that give out peanuts as snacks. Thankfully, my peanut allergy is not life threatening-yet. The more you are exposed to an allergen the worse the allergy can become. I also have the issue, being a woman, that my allergies are becoming worse as I get closer to menopause. I am supposed to quit my job because i cna no longer fly? Should my employment prospects be limited to those that never need me to travel (unlikely in today’s world).

Please ban peanuts from air travel.

8/18/2010 21:31

Based on my own experience, buffer zones are pointless because of the poor job the airlines typically do cleaning planes in between flights. I have a peanut-allergic child, and even with an announced buffer zone, there are usually peanuts stuck in the seat cushions or lying on the floor from the previous flight. Either a particular airplane should be peanut-free or not; the intermediate solution isn’t much of a solution.

8/19/2010 02:11

As a person that has been diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy, I believe there should be a ban on ALL foods. A lot of people do not understand how severe peanut allergies can be and how long the medicine lasts. The medicine lasts around 10-15 min. I usually carry 2 on my person when flying.

During one flight in 1999, we had to make an emergency landing and I had to spend the night at the ER because of peanut dust circulating through the cabin.

I’ve read what other people have said about other allergies, and I say to ban all food items from being on planes (with the exception of international flights and people with diabetes). You can live without peanuts or pretzels for food for 1-5 hours. Other people may die because some people can’t consider that because they are being selfish. That takes care of that slippery slope.

8/27/2010 15:19

I have identical twin daughters — only one of which has a severe peanut allergy (go figure–same DNA, same environment, one has it- one doesn’t)

Anyway — we recently flew (1st class) on a cross country flight on a major carrier. I made sure that I added to my online flight reservation that we had severe peanut allergy.

We told the gate personnel that we had severe peanut allergy (apparently they didn’t have it tagged on our ticket).

We told the flight attendant that we had severe peanut allergy — apparently the gate personnel, and the ticketing didn’t notify the flight attendant.

The flight attendant had such a “so what” attitude that really upset me. We were flying 1st class for this reason! ($$$) She even handed my daughter a snack that “was manufactured in a facility that also processes peanuts”

Lucky for the flight I was able to take it away from my daughter — otherwise they may have had to make an emergency landing.

Yes, we had our epi-pen with us; but we did not account for IGNORANT flight attendants and poor communication between ticketing, gate and flight.

Note to self: Avoid this major carrier (I am being nice by not mentioning their name)!

8/29/2010 09:56

Food allergies and other problems related to foods should be the sole responsibility of the passengers and in the case of children, their parents. Airlines should continue to provide peanuts and other foods, whether free or at a cost. People who may not know of their allergies should not be allowed to sue airlines (or for that matter, anyone) for their ignorance or lack of information about themselves. Every adult person is responsible for his or her own health problems, if any, and for those of an accompanying child.

8/29/2010 10:32

I do not know the likely hood of a sever reaction. I would suspect that a peanut allergy suffer would know what type of reaction they are likely to have though. If there was a rash of severe reactions, I don’t think it would go unnoticed.

I do not believe a complete ban is appropriate or enforceable. I think peanut allergy sufferers should communicate with their airlines about their allergies and make the appropriate restrictions for the flight, whether it’s just a request not to take out peanut products or creating a peanut free zone.

8/29/2010 12:25

I support banning peanuts ONLY ON FLIGHTS where a passenger with a peanut allergy requests. For the vast majority of us, peanuts are a cheap, healthy and easy to transport food, offering happiness in a cramped and tedious journey. Without my peanuts and G&T, I don’t know if I’d fly!

8/29/2010 13:00

We can all get by on a pretzel if needed to protect other passengers. Zones are impossible to control as anyone on the overcrowded flights can attest to, and who has not seen children trailed by parents toddling up the aisle a long way from the zone that is their assigned seat. I would rather have the attendants worry about flight safety issues than corralling familes or travelers in zones to enable someone to satisfy a peanut craving during the hour or so they are on the flight.

8/29/2010 13:31

If you ban peanuts being served, then you’ll have to ban all carry on food. Couple that with the ban on bringing on personal water and increasingly invasive body searches and air travel is becoming pretty austere.

I’ve been on many flights now that airlines no longer serve food where people bring on all sorts of personal food, including extremely “fragrant” ethnic foods. Who’s to say one of those doesn’t have a peanut product? This could easily become a slippery slope, as so much in the govt where we continue to erode personal liberties. Sitting next to a smoker with smoke on their clothes or a person with perfume can trigger an asthma attack for me. So let’s ban smokers who’ve had a cigarette in 24 hours and all fragrances. How far will we go in trying to accommodate everyone? I have visions of being stripped naked and put in little pods and put to sleep in order to keep everyone “safe” on flights. This is not the brave new world I want to live in! Yes, we must all be sensitive but more regulations? Please, no!

8/29/2010 14:12

Ban peanuts and tree nuts on all flights.

8/29/2010 16:37

While I enjoy peanuts and have no allergy, I am severely allergic to dogs and have had asthma attacks when assistance animals or pets are seated near me. I also suffer when those around me have on too much perfume or too strongly scented soap/body products. While I appreciate the seriousness of peanut allergies, if we’re going here, let’s go here for all allergies.

    8/30/2010 14:33

    And that’s the REAL problem. “…let’s go here for all allergies.” I’ve said it before and statements like that just reinforce what I have been saying. Once you ban one thing you will be required to ban a LOT more things going forward. I don’t think the DOT is prepared to ban all perfumes, deodorants, service animals, people who smell of smoke, people who use certain shampoo, and on and on and on.

9/1/2010 00:38

As the mother of a child with a life threatening peanut allergy I have had to consider this issue carefully. I am also a physician. We carry 4 epi pens and benadryl, wipe everything down, and bring his own food. Fortunately we have not had a problem, but I also will not fly with him on Delta since they serve peanuts to the whole plane. Having flown without him on Delta, the smell of peanuts being opened by 150 people at the same time was enough to convince me we’d have a problem. I don’t expect airlines to regulate what foods people bring on a plane, but I don’t understand why everyone has to be handed a bag of peanuts that they will open and spread the dust throughout the plane. I know its up to me to be prepared but how is it possible on a flight like that? Epinephrine wears off quickly, so even treating someone appropriately doesn’t cure a reaction and definitive treatment is necessary. I’ll continue to avoid Delta when traveling with my son and continue to be prepared while on other airlines, but it would be so much simpler if the airline didn’t hand out (for free!) a life threatening substance that people can do without for the short duration of a flight.

Airline Passenger Rights "Peanut allergies"

Agency Proposal
By the Regulation Room team based on the NPRM
Agency Documents
1 140

PEANUT ALLERGIES

What’s Going on Here Now?

1.  Comment is closed on this post.  We are now in the summary-building phase.

A summary of all discussion on Peanut Allergies will be sent to DOT Department of Transportation and become part of the official record of the rulemaking.  The first draft of this summary is available  here.  You can review and comment on the draft until September 17.

After September 17, the Regulation Room Team will revise the draft based on everyone’s comments.  The Final Summary of Discussion will be posted here on Regulation Room and submitted to DOT Department of Transportation no later than September 23 (when the public comment period officially ends).

2.  Scientific evidence about peanut allergies is very important to what DOT Department of Transportation should do.  The Regulation Room team has sent email invitations to allergy researchers asking them to discuss what the evidence shows.  You can get more details about who was invited, and read what the experts are saying, here.

Only invited experts can comment on the Peanut Expert page.  If you know of an expert who hasn’t been invited, contact us at regulationroom@cornell.edu.

Overview:

Note:  This post has been revised to reflect the Clarification issued by DOT Department of Transportation on June 22, 2010.

Peanut allergies can be more serious than a lot of us realize, especially for children. DOT Department of Transportation believes that a severe peanut allergy counts as a disability — and federal law prohibits air carriers from discriminating against individuals with a disability. DOT Department of Transportation is wondering whether specific steps should be taken to accommodate air travelers with severe peanut allergies — and what those steps should be.  Before it could push airlines to take such steps, DOT Department of Transportation has to report to Congress about scientific evidence that such allergies can be triggered by airborne peanut particles – which is why DOT Department of Transportation is specifically asking people for information about such studies, as well as for their personal stories.

This post will tell you more about what the problems have been, and what solutions DOT Department of Transportation is considering — and alert you to questions DOT particularly wants people to comment on.

2 24 The Problems:

Not all peanut allergies are serious enough to keep the sufferer off airplanes. But when airlines serve peanuts on board as an in-flight snack, severe allergy sufferers may not even have to eat the peanuts to have a reaction. For these travelers, including many children, just the presence of peanut particles in the air can bring on a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Congress has given DOT Department of Transportation mixed signals on this issue. The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities by U.S. and foreign air carriers, and DOT regulations require airlines to accommodate travelers with disabilities unless doing this would cause an “undue burden” or require the airline to “fundamentally alter its services”.  But in 1999, when DOT Department of Transportation informed airlines that this applied to peanut allergies, Congress withdrew DOT Department of Transportation funding for any restriction on airline peanut practices.

Usually funding restrictions like this last for only one year, but Senator Richard Shelby, the Senator from Alabama responsible for adding this item to DOT’s 1999 appropriations bill, worded the restriction to apply to funding “under this Act or any other Act.” DOT has clarified that it realizes that this language means the restriction is still in effect – a move that was praised by two Representatives of Georgia, Sanford Bishop and Jim Marshall.  But there’s another way in which the 1999 funding restriction was unusual: The restriction applies only “until 90 days after submission to the Congress and the Secretary [of Transportation] of a peer-reviewed scientific study that determines that there are severe reactions by passengers to peanuts as a result of contact with very small airborne peanut particles of the kind that passengers might encounter in an aircraft.”  So, it comes down to whether there’s data about the seriousness of the problem.

3 164 The Proposed Solutions:

DOT thinks perhaps the time has come to address again the problems of travelers with severe peanut allergies. It is considering the following options:

  • An outright ban on airlines serving peanuts and peanut products
  • Banning service of peanuts and peanut products only on a flight where a passenger with a peanut allergy requests a peanut-free flight in advance
  • Requiring the airline to provide a peanut-free buffer zone around a passenger with a medically-documented severe peanut allergy if the passenger makes a request in advance.

But DOT Department of Transportation is open to other solutions, as well as to not adopting any regulation on this issue. See next section. Most important, the first step is that DOT Department of Transportation has to present scientific evidence, accepted as valid by experts who did not actually do the study (“peer-reviewed”), that airborne peanut particles circulating in airplane air can cause severe reactions.

4 203 What DOT Department of Transportation wants to know from you:

How likely it is that a passenger with a severe peanut allergy will suffer a reaction from peanut particles in the air on a flight? DOT Department of Transportation is asking for both individual stories of serious in-flight medical problems from airborne peanut particles, and scientific studies on the issue.

Assuming that such studies exist, what steps should airlines have to take, if any, to avoid this danger? Would an epinephrine auto-injector, to allow immediate treatment of an allergic reaction, be sufficient? If so, should it be the responsibility of the airline, or the passenger, to provide it?

Should any food item containing peanuts be covered in a restriction, including e.g., peanut butter crackers and products containing peanut oil?

See what DOT Department of Transportation said on this issue: NPRM Section 12; Clarification.

See the proposed rule text on this issue: DOT has not proposed specific text yet because it first needs to present scientific evidence to Congress.

Got data? DOT Department of Transportation is looking for some.