I have anaphylaxis to sesame (sesame seeds, sesame oil, and airborne sesame
exposure). I carry 4 Epi-pens when I travel, bring my own foods, and wipe
down every area that I will be touching, even the entire cloth or other
material seats (bathrooms too).
In brief, I followed JetBlue’s instructions (based on a prior telephone
conversation in New York before the trip out west and an email I received
from the Onboard Experience Manager) to notify the airline in advance of the
flight and to notify the crew when I arrive at the gate before departure.
The JetBlue telephone representative also said to discuss the items that I’m allergic to
with the crew and gate staff.
At NY JFK, the crew were extremely pleasant and wanted to make sure that I was safe, so they did not
serve any items that contained sesame onboard the flight from NY to
Albuquerque. In addition, I saw the crew dig through their snack items reading the
ingredients on each package to double-check for sesame. I tweeted about the
great service I received during the entire flight as soon as I arrived in
Albuquerque and JetBlue immediately tweeted back to thank me.
On the return flight from Los Angeles LAX back to NY JFK, I followed the
same procedures. However, a JetBlue LAX staff member, contacted
JetBlue’s legal/flight consulting company (outsourced vendor) and after that
conversation between the JetBlue staff member and the Advisor, told me that I was prohibited
from boarding the flight because of my allergy. The LAX JetBlue staff member said that JetBlue
cannot guarantee my safety and that the cost of an emergency landing is too
high for them and they don’t want to do that. He also mentioned that there’s
no guarantee that I would survive airborne sesame exposure while in
flight even if they had to perform an emergency landing. The JetBlue staff member went on to say
I can board the flight if I had my allergist (in NY) fax him a
letter stating that I am “safe to fly with airborne sesame” and that they
are not responsible for my exposure to it.
Because this is not accurate, I didn’t provide the letter to JetBlue and did not board. I was concerned that I would be in danger on that plane and JetBlue wouldn’t care, and they would not be
liable because of this letter if I was to have a life threatening reaction. I didn’t expect this outcome especially after such a great experience with the JFK to ABQ flight.
Long story short, our suitcases were not taken off the flight so now my
husband and I were stuck in LA without our suitcases, without a hotel room,
and without any transportation back to NY. We spent hours sitting at the
airport on the phone calling hotels with kitchens (so I can cook my own
foods) and searching for a rental vehicle…we eventually booked both…next
day we picked up our suitcases at LAX which were flown back to LA from NY
and we started our drive across the U.S. back to the NYC area – about 3,000
miles in 2 days of driving non-stop (switching between my husband and
myself) in order to get back home. (Not to mention, I lost 3 days of work.)