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July 12, 2010 4:05 pm

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.… more »

…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:

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. « less

July 12, 2010 4:11 pm

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.

July 12, 2010 4:45 pm

Just a few quick comments:

According to the TSA website (, 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:

July 12, 2010 5:00 pm

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.

July 15, 2010 11:37 am

In general, I think that blanket policies on this topic would be a bad idea, because people have varying capacities to handle travel. For example, the first time I ever flew without a parent (13 years ago), I was 7 years old, and I went with my older brother who was 10. We flew from Chicago to Colorado with no incident. However, that doesn’t mean that every 7 or 10 year old can handle it-many can’t, and shouldn’t try. It’s something that the parents themselves should decide, because they know their children better than the airlines do.

Also, be careful when talking about “minors” flying alone on airplanes. I didn’t turn 18 until I was already a sophomore in college- should I have had special accommodations because I was technically a “minor”?… more »

…Different airlines will treat this issue differently. Applying a blanket policy will take away the options that come in an open marketplace of ideas. If I only had one option, because every airline was required to treat “minors” in the same manner, my travel choices would have been limited, not expanded. « less
July 15, 2010 11:51 am

You realize, though, that this is a risk that you take when you travel in an airplane. There are risks associated with every type of travel, and lost or delayed luggage is a risk associated with flying. While it’s extremely inconvenient to be without luggage, it would be unrealistic to expect that luggage will always be on time, just as it would be unrealistic to expect always to avoid the risk of traffic when deciding to drive. When you choose to fly, you also choose to adopt the risks of flying, from loss of life to loss of luggage.

Speaking of UPS, they are now offering a new service to customers: they will ship your luggage, so you can mail it ahead of time or avoid the risk of losing your luggage in transit. I think it’s interesting that solutions to this problem are coming… more »

…from outside of the airlines themselves. Here’s a link to that story:,0,328838.story « less
July 15, 2010 12:35 pm

Actually, there are over 50 US air carriers to choose from, so although the airline industry is not perfectly competitive, it certainly is not monopolistic. Since the end of the CAB (that is, since the beginning of airline DEregulation) air travel has become much more competitive and fares have dropped dramatically. According to the GAO, fares fell by 30% (adjusting for inflation) between 1976 and 1990 because of deregulation, and have fallen another 25% since 1991. Here’s an interesting article about the lower costs and greater availability of air travel due to airline deregulation:

July 15, 2010 2:06 pm

Just a quick point: the DOT got the idea of flight notifications from the airlines themselves, so I wouldn’t be so quick to discount the incentive that customer satisfaction plays to airlines. Here is an excerpt from the proposed rule: “Carriers recognize the importance of timely and accurate flight information, as evidenced by the fact that many of the largest U.S. carriers promise through their customer service plans to provide passengers all known information about delays and cancellations as soon as they become aware of the issue” (48). Any business which intends to survive has to satisfy its customers, otherwise the customers will simply stop buying their product, and the business will go bankrupt. Airlines themselves already thought up flight status notifications because… more »

…there was customer demand for them.

I find it interesting that you claim neither passengers nor profits to be benefiting from the current state of air transit affairs. Now, air fare is affordable (prices of air fares have decreased 25% since 1991) and more available to citizens than ever before. Airlines like Southwest are benefiting exactly because they are offering low fares, serving their customer needs, which would seem to disprove your statement that both profits and passengers suffer in the status quo. « less

July 15, 2010 2:09 pm

Not to be too picky, but if it’s snowing heavily outside, do you really need the airline to send a notice to tell you that it’s snowing? Are airlines now our weather services, as well? It seems a little silly.

July 15, 2010 2:11 pm

Here is an incentive: if a customer is dissatisfied with flight notifications, they ought to take their business elsewhere. Wouldn’t that be an appropriate message to airlines that don’t notify their passengers?

July 15, 2010 2:40 pm

Keep in mind that you wouldn’t be able to get out of the plane if it were in the air, either.

I think deplaning is a bit extreme, because it could throw an already imbalanced flight schedule out of whack, and might delay flights even further or lead to cancellation. I sat on a tarmac in London for five hours earlier this year, but I’d rather wait it out than hop off the plane and miss an opportunity to take off. However, I see no problem with regular passenger updates on the progress of the delay.

July 15, 2010 2:51 pm

I’d just like to respond to this as one of those people who needs to plan around meals. I have juvenile diabetes (type 1), so my food intake needs to be fairly regular to keep me healthy and coherent. Obviously, this is important to me. However, that doesn’t mean that I expect the airline to feed me. I always bring snacks onto the plane (no beverages, of course) to hold me over, just in case. It’s hard to predict when you’re going to need to pack an entire meal, but it’s very easy to stick a granola bar and an apple into your bag for the flight. There is nothing preventing people from feeding themselves on the plane, especially if they have a medical condition, as I do.

July 15, 2010 2:58 pm

This is a really interesting solution. Off the top of my head I can name a few problems: first, the largest airports, which experience the largest number of delays, may be located in urban areas in which airport expansion is not as feasible. I grew up in Chicago and traveled out of Midway and O’Hare, airports that are surrounded by city and suburbs. Second, if an airport were to commit some of its finite space to a delay terminal, that space would have to be first taken from another part of the airport, leaving less room for active planes. To me, this sounds like it would limit the number of flights at large airports, making them less competitive and possibly increasing prices. However, I find your idea very creative, and much better than the majority of the solutions to these problems.

July 15, 2010 3:41 pm

The problem can’t be solved this way. Airlines know ahead of time that flights are oversold, but they don’t know whether all ticketed customers will show up on time or at all. For example, recently I got a free roundtrip flight with frequent flier miles, even though I only needed a one-way trip (only a roundtrip was available for the frequent flier miles). Of course, I never showed up for the return flight, because I never intended to return. If this flight had been oversold, the airline would know ahead of time, but they would not have known that I only got a roundtrip flight because it was my only option.

Airlines could send out a notice to customers that the flight had been oversold, but they can’t know until the customers have checked in/begun boarding whether all the… more »

…ticketed customers are present or not. Unfortunately, there’s no way to give advance notice. « less
July 19, 2010 12:54 pm

Thanks for your valuable input, sofiem. Do you have a source for your price decrease statistic? The DOT can only use publicly available data in making its decisions.

August 6, 2010 8:02 pm

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… more »

…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.

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