I’m the mother of a 15-year-old son who has a severe anaphylactic airborne peanut allergy. We love to travel to Disney World it’s our happy place, a place we go often to have fun and escape reality. We never have to worry about food allergies there because they are so good about them. It’s getting to Disney World and back home we do worry about.
We live in NY so taking an airplane is the most convenient option. We carry several Epi- pens, pre board to wipe down our seats, and inform the staff of the airline about the allergy asking them to please make an announcement to ask other passengers to please not consume anything with peanuts. We tell them we have everything in place to handle his allergy and understand making the announcement won’t guarantee people will listen, but he has major anxiety, so I explain to the flight attendants it’s more for his peace of mind. So, we take a chance and pray every time we fly as we do in every situation in life where there is food.
My son has been taking this trip to Disney World since he had just turned 2 every year sometimes more than once a year. So that is a lot of different airlines, flights, and prep each way every time we go. On a pretty recent flight to Orlando when my son had just turned 14, we had a very bad experience on a Frontier airlines flight out of Islip MacArthur here on Long Island NY. The flight attendant was very rude and actually mocked my son and I for asking to make the announcement I explained he has anxiety and he responded with “well we don’t serve peanuts so what are you worried about “? I saw my sons face knowing he was devastated and even more anxious so I was concerned about just getting him to his seat ensuring he would be ok that I would personally ask kindly to the other passengers to refrain from eating peanuts if I saw them and explain. He was still anxious so I asked another flight attendant to make the announcement and she said that the other flight attendant did already. I explained he didn’t and was very rude and inappropriate towards my child.
She then made it and as she was making it I heard and saw the other flight attendant laughing pointing and making fun of us with another passenger. I was livid but kept my cool for my son I just wanted him to be ok emotionally and physically and to focus on the fun trip ahead of us.
We arrived safe and we emailed a complaint and they gave us a voucher and apologized. I was assured he was going to be spoken to that’s really all I cared about because the damage was already done and my son lost his faith not only in airlines but adults who are supposed to be his protector especially in a situation like flying with an allergy. I have never really had a good flight experience before, there is always someone making it more difficult than it has to be or either the flight attendants or passengers are rude about his allergy. But there is a happy ending to our story.
We decided to take our love for Disney to where it all began Disneyland. This would be our longest flight we had ever taken, on an airline we have never even heard of before we booked the tickets, across country where we have never been. My sister had just moved to California and my family and I have always wanted to go to Disneyland, so we made it a big family visit with my sister and her family to Disneyland we also spent a day in LA. So now after that horrible experience we were all on edge about flying on Alaska Airlines with his allergy on top of being nervous flyers so far away from home. I did everything I have always done called ahead to give them a heads up and that’s where the magic began.
The woman I spoke to spent a good half hour talking me through and assuring everything would be fine and they would take care of him. I thought in my head she was nice but ok where have I heard that before. So I try to print his boarding pass and it said see security. I got nervous and said to myself I hope they let us pre- board with his allergy. It’s sad we even have to worry about that but it wasn’t the case they just wanted to make sure he had his EpiPen and to tell me the process to pre board and wipe his seats . I was like wow so far so good. To my surprise when I asked if the flight attendant could make the announcement she smiled and said of course. Again, I just was in shock I look at my son and I saw his anxiety lift from his shoulders.
The flight there was very pleasant and anxiety free the staff were so nice we were definitely impressed but still wary about flying home. I said to myself I don’t know if we will get lucky twice, but I hope so for my son’s sake. It wasn’t luck at all it was the airline you don’t get lucky twice and I in all the years flying with my peanut allergic son have we ever experienced anything like our flight home it was like a dream , it changed our lives and restored our faith in flying again. We boarded our Alaska Airlines flight 468 from LAX to JFK on February 19th, 2020 at around 3:15pm. We had the same pleasant experience checking in she even let my 3 pounds over suitcase pass without payment. Then it was time to pre- board our nerves began we were the first passengers on board and from the minute we walked on we just kept looking at each other so surprised at how amazing the flight attendants were. Once again, I asked the first one, I saw can you make an announcement with a smile of course. Again, the anxiety began to lessen. Then we went to wipe down our seats and two flight attendants came over to us who already knew we were coming they introduced themselves and said is there anything you need do you need wipes? I said thank you very much we have some then they asked if there is anything we can do for you let us know I said thank you I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful we are we have never been treated this good regarding my sons food allergy my son has major anxiety and I can’t tell you how much that means to both of us so she offered him a mask in case he got nervous.
I never even thought of that, but it helped. I once again thanked them and told them how amazing they are I must have said it a million times, but I just couldn’t believe it and I was so thankful especially seeing how for the first time ever on an airplane he was happy and not too anxious. The flight attendants also played music before everyone boarded so that also relaxed him. But it didn’t stop there after she made an announcement the 4 pleasant amazing flight attendants set off a chain reaction with the passengers. It started with the woman behind me I heard her say oh I better check our snacks to make sure , I turned around and said thank you it’s my son she was talking about she said I understand I’m a mom and if it’s ok I tap your shoulder so you can read our snacks? I said of course thank you very much. Before I knew it everyone around me started asking me if it was safe, I said to myself now I must be dreaming lol it brought me to tears. The flight attendants kept checking on us throughout the flight and at one point we weren’t sure what the people in front of us were eating he started to panic put his mask on I turn around there was the flight attendant asking if he was ok and we were able to confirm it wasn’t peanuts and they asked if they could open the trail mix with cashews I said yes . The flight attendant then told me people all the way up front were asking if it was ok to eat certain things. I thanked her again and asked if she could thank them for me. The flight attendants were all amazing even the ones not assigned to our seats they checked on him too. And also got us through our nervous flying all of us are anxious flyers. But this flight my son for the first time was not so anxious he enjoyed his flight for the first time on Alaska Airlines thanks to an amazing crew and what they didn’t know was my son also has some special needs mainly major anxiety and some sensory issues. If only these flight attendants really knew what they did for my son not just as flight attendants but human beings it just goes to show you this can be done on flight with people who suffer with food allergies. If those passengers also knew what they did for us.
I honestly wish there was an award of some kind for them or I could hug them all and really tell them how they impacted us especially my son. They restored every ounce of faith that was lost on that other flight for him and his faith in adults that they are there to help and they do care about him and his allergy. Thank you, Alaska Airlines, and that very special crew from the bottom of our hearts. I did contact Alaska Airlines when I got home but this time it was a good conversation telling them how great our flight and the crew were, we told them our story and I hope the flight attendants get recognized. I wish all airlines could follow in Alaska Airlines footsteps they have won our hearts. And hopefully they will continue to be this good for future flights for all with food allergies.