To preface this story, I need to give you background information on my allergy. I am allergic to all nuts, including peanuts, soy, beans, peas, seeds, and tree nuts. While most of my allergies require ingestion of the item, I am spatially allergic to peanuts. Meaning, I have had reactions before by just smelling peanuts, peanut butter, etc.
So, my wife and I were traveling from Pittsburgh to Jacksonville to visit our friends for a long weekend. When flying, part of my personal on-boarding process involves speaking to the flight attendant as I get on the plane. I ask them about their peanut situation.
Most airlines tell me “we don’t serve peanuts anymore.” That’s what I like to hear. Some airlines, most recently Southwest, tell me they do serve peanuts but for my particular flight, they will refrain from doing so. To further accommodate me, Southwest will then let me board ahead of time and wipe down my seating area, to prevent any contact with peanut residue from a previous flight. This practice is also acceptable to me. I don’t mind putting in the extra work to ensure my safety.
This brings me to Allegiant. I have never flown Allegiant before. I should have done some research about Allegiant because they’ve had issues with peanut allergies in the past. But I did not. Instead, I went about my normal practice, speaking to an employee ahead of time. So, as I boarded the plane, I went on to tell the flight attendant about my allergy. To my surprise, she responded with “Well, we can’t NOT serve peanuts.” I went on to tell her that I can not be around peanuts. If peanuts are being served, I can not ride on this plane. It was then that the flight attendant went and got a supervisor.
It was the conversation with the supervisor that was the most off-putting. She began our conversation by telling me the same thing as the flight attendant, “We can’t just not serve peanuts.” As I again explained the severity of my allergy, she responded with “Well, what if there was someone on the flight who could only eat peanuts?” This told me she was either ignorant to the dietary needs of humans, or was not taking me seriously. I lean towards the latter because she went on to tell me a story about how she once had a passenger who told her he had a peanut allergy, but later in the flight saw him eating a Snickers (which contains peanuts). And finally, in a condescending tone, asked me if I even had an Epi-pen. This question told me one of two things, both of which are disheartening. 1) She thought I was lying to her. 2) She thought, well if he has a reaction, he can just use his Epi-pen. Ignoring the fact that Epi-pens aren’t 100% effective and the user requires immediate medical attention. That’s when I showed her the two pens that I carried with me at all times. She seemed a little surprised.
After seeing the Epi-pens, she was a little more empathetic. She then told me that they would not pass out peanuts, but if a passenger asked for some, they could not deny them. I asked if they could make an announcement, banking on others choosing to not endanger my life, and that’s what they did. Fortunately, I went on to have a safe flight both to Jacksonville and back to Pittsburgh. Both flights made announcements and my fellow passengers chose not to get peanuts or peanut products.
This was a jarring experience because I experienced an attitude towards food allergies that I have not experienced in a long time. It was the general lack of empathy and the perceived belief that the consequence on my contact with peanuts during the two hour flight was equal to the consequence of passengers not getting to enjoy their peanuts for a two hour flight. It was disheartening and enraging at the same time. I encourage all sufferers of peanut allergies to avoid Allegiant if they can. While other airlines have shown the willingness to accommodate me, Allegiant seemed too stubborn to care. I will not be flying Allegiant again.