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Sarah Feb 9th, 2000 12:39 PM

People with nut allergies, beware of American Airlines policy
<BR> <BR>I am an individual who has a severe allergy to all nuts and nut products. Not only cannot I not ingest them, but I am not able to be around them. Any airborne nut or nut product sends me immediately into anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock as described in a medical dictionary is "a severe and sometimes fatal systemic reaction in a susceptible individual upon second exposure to a specific antigen after previous sensitization that is characterized especially by respiratory symptoms, fainting, itching and urticaria." This allergy is very serious and can lead to death. An Epi-pen is an auto-injector of epinephrine, which I carry with me at all time in case I experience an allergic reaction; however, this is a temporary treatment until I can get emergency medical care. <BR> <BR>Traveling for me can be hazardous due to many airlines serving nuts on flights. Prior to traveling, I always personally call the airline to make arrangements for the aircraft to remove all nuts and nut products. In the past, this has never been a problem. I flew to Beijing China on Northwest Airlines and they were more than understanding about my nut allergy. Originally, the menu for first class included a salad that with a dressing that contained walnuts. Upon my request, they changed the salad dressing. The flight crew was attentive, and made sure I had my Epi-pen in the seat pocket in front of me. I instructed a flight attendant how to use the Epi-pen should an emergency occur. Fortunately, there were no problems. <BR> <BR>I recently planned a trip from Chicago, O'Hare to London, Heathrow on American Airlines. I telephoned American Airlines to explain my allergy situation and make arrangements for there not to be any nuts served on my flight. Naturally I was concerned, because this was an international flight with nowhere to land to seek emergency medical attention in case I experienced an allergic reaction. The American Airlines service representative informed me that they serve mixed nuts in the first and business classes. I went on further to explain that I cannot not eat nor be around any nut product. The representative told me that they to do not make any exceptions for people with nut allergies because they "advertise" to their passengers that they will receive mixed nuts. In order for me to travel on American, I had to have a written authorization from my doctor. Of course my doctor did not sign authorization because traveling with nuts on my flight was out of the question. <BR> <BR>I was shocked by American Airlines lack of customer service and care for human beings. I contacted several other airlines, and they all indicated to me that they would accommodate me as much as they possibly could. I was very much looking forward to my vacation, but since the risk was so high, I had to cancel my trip. My ticket will be refunded, however I have to go through a process, which I think, is ridiculous considering what I have already gone through. <BR> <BR>It seems to me that the airlines have enough competition through airfare wars, and after a disastrous last year for American, you would think that they would do anything within reason to please a passenger. I believe that my request was within reason and not a difficult one to accomplish. Peanut allergies and nut allergies in general are not that uncommon. Many people suffer from this allergy and most don't know the severity of it. <BR> <BR>I do know one thing, neither I nor any of my family members will ever fly American Airlines. I hope others with this allergy are now aware of American's inflexible and absurd policy. <BR>

jen Feb 9th, 2000 01:06 PM

Sarah- <BR>Sounds like someone at American needs to learn the meaning of "customer service". Your request seems like a simple one to me; besides, I can't imagine that people choose to fly AA because they saw an ad touting service of mixed nuts. <BR> <BR>I have a good friend who has a similar allergy so I can understand the severity of your situation. I will certainly pass this info on to her.

Mary Feb 10th, 2000 05:34 AM

That is unbelievable. I know several people with nut allergies. I will pass this information on to them. Your experience with American leads one to conclude they have little regard for the people they serve.

Ray Feb 10th, 2000 06:26 AM

I didn't know any airlines even served nuts anymore as a result of these kinds of allergies in the first place- is American totally clueless?? <BR>I too will pass you story on to an acquaintance who has a peanut allergy.

Tom Feb 10th, 2000 12:03 PM

So the majority of people who don't have peanut allergies have to do without because of one person? That is what sounds outrageous and unreasonable to me.

Peter Feb 10th, 2000 03:17 PM

It is unfortunate in this day of companies striving for world class customer service that a company would refuse a simple, one-time, one flight request. Check out the customer service of Dell. Compare that to American Airlines. American Airlines is way out of step with the rest of the business world. As for Tom, he sounds like an insensitive American Airlines employee. Tom, respond to this and I will send you a bag of nuts to make up for the ones that you might not get to save someone else's life. Hard to believe others insensitivities and lack of regard for their fellow man. Tom, keep your nuts, as you are nuts!

Marie Feb 11th, 2000 05:21 AM

I agree with Peter and the other responses. My boyfriend suffers from this allergy and it's a matter of life or death. Clearly Tom, you have never seen anyone go into anaphylactic shock. Your ignorance and disregard for human lives says a lot about you. You must work for American.

Ryan Feb 13th, 2000 09:31 PM

I hate to admit this, but I tend to side with Tom on this issue. I too, have a very severe allergy to nuts. Being anywhere near them causes me to have an asthma attack. However, I think it is unfair to criticize an airline for refusing to change its menu. I think it is a lot to ask of such an airline. Personally, I would simply look to fly the airlines that DO accomodate my needs and fly them. I do not think American should have to buckle to every need of a passenger. What if someone brought nuts on board? Is American supposed to tell that person he cannot eat his own food? I think it's unrealistic. Just my two cents. <BR> <BR>Ryan

ilisa Feb 14th, 2000 04:25 AM

Sarah, thank you for this post. In the past, I have brought on planes trail mix containing nuts. I never gave it a moment's thought. However, I now will refrain from doing so now that you have posted such an informative message. Tom and Ryan, get a life. Bags of nuts really aren't that important in the grand scheme of things.

Sarah Feb 14th, 2000 05:33 AM

Well Ryan, I am sorry you feel that way. Actually, every other airline I contacted was more than willing to try to accomodate me. Interestingly enough, I had a supervisor from American Airlines say to me, "We have had people with much worse allergies than you fly on our airlines." Oh really? Hmmm... I did not know that supervisors in the Special Services department are required to have a medical degree and furthermore, how could one possibly diagnose an individual over the telephone? Life or death, gee could that be ANY worse of an allergy? And trust me, I flying American is out of the question, I value my life too much.

Sarah Feb 14th, 2000 05:38 AM

Oh and Tom, I have nothing to say about your comment. It seems to me that you are outrageous and unreasonable. Enough said.

Koop Feb 14th, 2000 12:51 PM

As an asthmatic and as someone who knows people with analphylatic allergies, I have empathy for Sarah. But I side with fellow allergy suffer Ryan. Instead of spending time excoriating American, spend your money with carriers that will meet your needs and offer nut-free flights. Vote with your wallet. If American does not get the message, it is their loss. <BR> <BR>I understand that losing the opportunity for unfettered travel is upsetting. And, having been on the short edge of several customer service dealings with various organizations, I can also understand your anger, but I cannot agree with your unstated assumption that unfettered travel on one's own terms is a non-negotiable right. <BR> <BR>To give you an example: my mother is frail, requires a wheelchair, and is of dimished cognitive capacity because of various medical conditions. Would it be outrageous of the airline to refuse my demand that my mother be given a free escort for a trip, or would it be outrageous of me to make such a demand? <BR> <BR>I think it would be the latter. <BR> <BR>I guess what one considers outrageous depends on one's definition of reasonable accommodation

jen Feb 15th, 2000 11:56 AM

Koop- <BR>While I see your point in the above post, I must point out that the example of your mother is not equivalent to Sarah's situation- in your scenario, you are asking the airline to provide a free escort (which also means a free seat on the flight, no?). I agree wholeheartedly that this is not a feasible request. Sarah is simply asking that they not serve a bag of, say, pretzels instead of nuts in 1st class for one flight. I still maintain that this is a simple request, and one which, especially considering the increasingly competitive climate of the airline industry, should have been granted.

disagree Feb 16th, 2000 01:14 PM

I'm just wondering whether or not everybody's allergies are going to be addressed, and at what point do we just make airplanes completely sterile vessles? Scrub everyone down, and dress them in sterile cover-ups to sit in a stainless steel comfort-less plane? <BR>A close friend of mine has dramatic enviromental illness. She sees this as something SHE must deal with and that means she can't be trapped in small places like planes. She doesn't expect everyone in the world to accomodate her, however simple it may be. It is her illness, her responsibility.

nutty Feb 17th, 2000 01:02 PM

Methinks thou dost take thyselves a little too seriously. Lighten up!

bustanut Feb 25th, 2000 02:05 PM

I think Sarah is very selfish.

John Feb 28th, 2000 04:50 AM

Bustanut, I think that you're ignorant. Living under a rock, are you?

Kenn Feb 29th, 2000 08:05 AM

In my experience, the very people who criticize those who have special needs for being selfish are the ones who think rules don't apply to them anyway -- a really childish, "you're not the boss of me" attitude. At some point in your life, you will be different or have a special need -- you'll have an emergency, you'll break a leg or develop some other disability, you'll just plain get OLD. All very well to say piously that you wouldn't expect others to adjust for you, but look at yourself, you already do!

John Apr 8th, 2000 12:24 AM

Interesting points on both sides, and I don't think it helps to berate those who disagree with Sarah as merely selfish. However, having thought about it for a bit, I am inclined to agree with Sarah. The reason is that if ALL airlines refused her request, she would be unable to fly at all, but the accomodation is really not that difficult. Pretzels, rice crackers and so on, are supplied by the same companies that supply the nuts, and it is just a minor flexibility to make the switch. I am inclined to think that refusing to the request would sail pretty close to the wind of illegal disability discrimination in my country (Australia) but I am no lawyer, so this is merely a guess. On the other hand, the "disabled mother" situation is a little different if it means supplying a staff member to personally accompany the passenger for the whole flight. This would cost, potentially, more than the revenue earned on the ticket. <BR> <BR>Having said that, many airlines will offer special assistance at little or no cost for people with disabilities, similar in practice to the way they assist "unaccompanied minors", eg, one of the cabin takes special care of the person, assisting with meals, travel documents dis/embarkation and so on.

merriem Apr 8th, 2000 05:10 AM

We just came back from Europe on Delta, and they served snack mixes with peanuts in them.......

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