When I fly with him, I bring 4 epi pens as well as my Clorox wipes to wipe down his whole area. I also always notify the gate agents and the flight attendants that my son has a life-threatening allergy to all nuts. As I always do when I fly with my son, I informed the gate agent at American Airlines of his allergy and asked if it was possible to not serve nuts on the airplane. She said that was impossible because they are not a nut free airline and it would not be fair to the passengers who wanted to eat nuts. I spoke with a gate supervisor and he also pointed out that they couldn’t control what other passengers bring on to the plane themselves. I told him that I was well aware of that and that I did not expect to control every passenger’s food, but I was just trying to limit his exposure, not eliminate it. I was asking for some nut-sensitivity, not a sterile environment. When I got on board I let the flight attendant know about the allergy and he insisted the same information that the gate agents said. I asked him their procedure if there is a medical emergency on board. I never raised my voice at him but explained that if I need to use an epi pen on my son, it only helps for a short period of time, and wouldn’t it just be easier to not hand out nuts than to have to make an emergency landing because a child is not breathing. He kept arguing with me and then a supervisor gate agent came on board and told me that if my son’s allergy is so severe, I should not ever fly with him. I explained that all nut allergies are considered life threatening and is he telling me I should not ever fly with my son? He said yes- it is my responsibility, not theirs. The next thing I knew, the supervisor came back on board and told my whole family we had to get up and leave the plane. They would not allow us to fly on the plane. My husband, who is an attorney, said we would not get off the plane unless they gave us a good reason. We did nothing wrong. All we did was make them aware of our son’s allergy- the more information they have, the safer everyone will be. The gate supervisor continued to argue with my husband and said that if we do not get off immediately he will have the Miami police come and arrest us all- two suburban middle aged parents and 3 children- ages 6, 8 and 11. We pleaded with him as well as the pilot and flight attendant. We offered to sign something releasing American of responsibility if my son had a reaction but they continued to threaten to arrest us so we got off the plane with my 6-year-old son crying that he did not want to be arrested for being allergic to nuts. It is hard enough for him to live with this disability, and then to think that his parents are being taken to jail because of it- it was just too much. I never raised my voice to a single employee of AA, nor did I ever threaten anyone or anything. There was absolutely no reason to kick us off of the flight.
I wrote American airlines and they offered no apology for this incident, in fact, I received a letter from Customer Relations saying this is their policy and it is the flight attendant’s right to not allow passengers to fly if they think the passenger cannot be safe on the flight and they closed the letter by saying, “We look forward to you flying with us again in the near future”.