My daughter has an incredibly severe peanut allergy. We first flew when she was 2, in early 2001. I was very new to the whole allergy world and assumed that airlines weren’t serving peanuts any more due to the increase in allergies. I about to find out, I was wrong. We were in the middle of the plane, and they started serving snacks from the back. Only five or six rows had been served and the smell of peanuts became very strong. My little one was happily coloring but she started coughing intermittently. Within a few minutes she started rubbing her eyes, and then scratching her head. Her whole face turned red and I gave her a dose of Benadryl. We of course refused the snack when the attendants reached our row, and told them what was happening. They didn’t seem to care. I ended up having to give her another dose of Benadryl but didn’t have to use epinephrine.
As soon as we reached our destination I called the airline and told them what happened, and told them I needed a peanut free flight on our return. They assured me it would be no problem. When we got to the airport, there was no record of my request in the system. I spoke to several desk agents, and was finally allowed to speak to one of the flight attendants. She was incredibly rude and incredulous. “You mean you want EVERYONE on the flight to not eat peanuts!” I said yes, and absolutely disgusted she finally relented in letting me pick out an alternative snack (pretzels).
Over the years we have had mostly negative experiences flying. Some airlines have clear policies (United) and some have none at all or ambiguous ones. I believe it was Delta who told us they would not serve peanuts to our row, the row in front and the row behind. I told them she’s had airborne reactions and they said it was the best they could do. I decided several years ago that we will only fly United from now on. On many flights I have seen peanuts on the floor, peanuts in the seat back pocket…it’s such an unsafe environment for those with severe allergies. The anxiety of flying is unreal. We take multiple Epipens, lots of Benadryl, a mask and gloves just in case, and we pre board if allowed and wipe down our entire row and thoroughly check the floor, seat back pockets, and trays. We bring our own tray and our own food.
It seems so silly to me that people get so up in arms about “getting their peanuts” as if it’s an inalienable right. You hope for compassion when lives are at stake.