10/5/2022- Due to a family emergency, I had to book a very last minute flight at 8pm Tuesday night, flight departing 7am Wednesday.
When I checked in at Glasgow, I informed check-in staff of my sons severe nut (peanut and tree nut) allergy. She said to inform the gate staff. Once the gate had been announced, I approached the staff and informed them, they said they would make an announcement and allowed us to board the flight right away. I also then informed the cabin crew who were understanding, and even had me check the ingredients of a breakfast bar before serving it. They were very kind and understanding about his situation, as I would expect from a company like British Airways.
Once we arrived at Heathrow, and our gate was called we realised this was an America Airlines flight. When we got the the gate I informed the staff member managing the queue, she said wait until group 7 and tell the crew checking tickets. We should have been allowed to board early, but were not. When we spoke to the staff member checking passports and tickets, he asked how allergic my son is, I explained he had ingestion reactions previously but he has never been in a situation to trial if he has the same reaction to airborne nuts yet (he is 18 months) that this was not the time to find that out.
He enquired if we had an Epi- Pen, which we do not. His allergist said he would not get one until he had his 2 year review (december) I explained I had not planned to travel with him until we had an Epi -Pen but had a family member who was beginning hospice care and the need to travel was urgent. He said they can’t make an announcement on the flight, due to the FDA. I said that’s not true as we are in the UK, they had made an announcement on our previous 1 hour flight. He said that was BA, not AA. He then said to let cabin crew know.
Once I got to the door of the plane and told the staff member, she said they can’t do an announcement and to speak to the purser. She then arrived and had us stand in the corridor beside the galley kitchen. She said AA have never done announcements and wouldn’t do one, that they couldn’t guarantee someone didn’t eat a peanut butter sandwich. I agreed, they couldn’t control people, but then she informed me that they serve nuts in business class. I requested that they just didn’t serve them, she said that wasn’t possible, as they were already on the plane, I asked them to not open them. She then waved her arm and said they were roasting the nuts right there, by my shoulder while I was holding my infant. I turned and said I need to get off this plane.
The total disregard for my son in that instance was utterly shocking. She knew he had a nut allergy and then proceeded to keep us standing there while they were cooking them, utterly despicable never mind the risk to my son’s health. The lack of thought or understanding of his allergy is disgusting.
Once I was waiting out of the plane an agent eventually arrived, quite abruptly said well what do you want. I explained I wanted a BA flight that didn’t have any nuts on board. She then went to get my mum who had sat down while I was talking to the purser. We went back to the gate and waited until the same male member of staff that initially enquired about how severe his allergies were, came to discuss our options. I explained that someone eating a sandwich does not equate to them cooking nuts on the actual plane. He agreed there is a difference. They asked what we wanted to do and were able to find out there was another BA flight the next morning. However at that point we feared that would be too late for my family member to be alive when we arrived – This was very distressing. They confirmed removal of our baggage and informed us where to go to get new tickets.The staff member who helped us with the new tickets, vouchers and hotel was very kind.
The next day once our gate was called again we went to speak to the gate staff, he again asked how allergic he was. I explained he was severely allergic and needed this plane to be nut free. He said he would let cabin crew know.
We tried to board the plane, I explained at the door again about the nut allergy and yet again was told I needed to speak to the purser. They serve nuts to business class on this flight, but the policy was that because there were 2 fixed partitions separating us and the nuts, it was ok. I was asked to sit down at that point and someone would come and speak to me. I said no, I needed her to ensure the nuts were not served and that I needed to be on that flight. I stood next to 2 members of staff who said that normally they don’t serve nuts if there is an allergy. When the purser came back she said she had agreed with flight crew not to serve them. Having to argue that you child needs a safe environment, when that information had already been explained so many times before, was horrible. I was made to feel as if I was creating a huge problem for them, when in reality the policy is wrong. My sons allergies are classed as a disability and as such should be treated as a protected trait. The decision making staff on each flight left a lot to be desired from the customer experience perspective.
The cabin crew were lovely, they kept checking in and generally put us at ease. At the end of the flight the purser came to speak to us, reiterating what the policy was and that basically they couldn’t ensure we would have a safe flight home. This was totally unnecessary. I was now aware of BA policy and needed to speak to them but to have a veiled threat levelled at me that I couldn’t get home was unacceptable. It was nerve wracking enough to travel with my son, they did not need to reiterate what I already knew and to be so unkind on top was awful at the end or a very long and stressful two days.