On January 7, 2016 we took Spirit Flight 600 from FLL to ATL. Our son has an anaphylactic nut allergy so we wanted to give him as safe of an environment as possible. We followed the instructions on Spirit’s website and requested a buffer zone for our 2 year old.
When we checked in at our gate, the flight attendant told us they could make a buffer zone, but can’t enforce it. However, they said they won’t sell nuts in the buffer zone. Once onboard, the attendant informed the buffer zone about the allergy and pointed us out and said WE had the allergy. Generally the person with the allergy should not be pointed out because it can lead to bullying, which is what happened to us.
The lady sitting behind us refused to comply. She requested a new seat. The attendant told her the flight was full and she couldn’t be moved. She sat behind us and complained about how unfair it was she couldn’t eat nuts on the 1.5 hour flight, and that she planned to do it anyway. When the food cart came, she requested to buy nuts. She was denied, saying this was a buffer zone and nuts aren’t sold in it. She had family members sitting up front. She went up front and had them buy nuts for her, not once, but twice. She then came back to her seat directly behind us and opened the nuts and ate them. We could clearly smell the nuts and she was also coughing while eating them, making the proteins and dust more likely to come in our vicinity. The flight attendant asked her to stop, she said no.
At this point we began to fear for our child’s life. Nothing could be done, the attendant said, they couldn’t force her to not eat the nuts that she just bought from you.
Why have a buffer zone if you can’t enforce it? Or just let us know up front you can’t do anything, that the buffer zone is useless and can’t be enforced. We wouldn’t have flown with you if we knew you would offer zero protection. The promise of a buffer zone is what made us feel comfortable.
You’re a budget airlines, so you should appreciate that emergency landings due to anaphylaxis will not help keep costs low.
Nut proteins in recirculated air it can and does cause anaphylaxis. Planes have had to make emergency landings because of anaphylactic responses from nut proteins in the recirculated air. 1 in 13 people have severe food allergies, so most likely at least 1 person is flying on each of your flights, many are afraid to speak up because they don’t want to be a ‘problem’ or face bullying like we did.
Was this woman’s right to eat nuts more important than my son’s right to live through the 1.5 hour flight? I guess so.