We would like to relay our most recent experience on our last two American Airline flights, round trip to and from Israel from Miami, Florida. Our twelve year old daughter and I are both allergic to nuts, although our daughter has an anaphylactic response (and we are not sure if it can be airborne). She must always carry an epipen because any ingestion of nuts can cause her to stop breathing. Everyone in our family is constantly vigilant whenever we are with our daughter, whether she is home, at school, at a friends, at a restaurant, and on a plane.
Whenever we fly we first wipe down all of our seats. We inform all check in and gate agents as well as making sure that all of the flight attendants are aware of her severe nut allergy. Since nuts are one of the most allergic foods in the world, we know that many airlines have taken steps to eliminate them entirely from all flights. We understand that passengers might bring nuts on board, which is their right, but that is totally different from the airline itself serving nuts and foods containing nuts on their flights.
On both of our American flights we were served tree nuts in an open glass dish. Two of the main meals included nuts. One was pistachio crusted beef and another was chicken with walnuts. Breakfast on both flights included granola mixed with cashews/almonds. Flying with a highly allergic child is a very stressful experience for all of us. Hannah is always extremely nervous and afraid to eat, this time with just cause as there were nuts everywhere. We were terrified when we saw all the nuts on the menu and being served. Because there were nuts everywhere she did not eat at all which is totally unacceptable on any flight, but this one was over 12 hours. You can imagine how difficult it is to have an extremely hungry 12 year old afraid not only to eat anything but to touch anything that might have come in contact with nuts!. Every time she had a little cough we were worried it was the beginning of an allergic reaction.
The flight crews were great and we did arrive safely at our destination, although hungry! We felt we had to reach out to you to explain how serious nut allergies (any allergy) is especially when isolated on an airplane without quick access to a hospital. We don’t understand why, when so many people have such a severe allergy, your airline would put both the person as well as your airline at risk when it would be very easy to just eliminate nuts from your menu. As stated previously, there is a huge difference between a passenger bringing nuts on the flight and the airline actually serving them to the entire plane. Why risk having a medical emergency on board?
If you are not going to change your nut policy, please add big warnings and/or alerts on your website saying that you serve tree nuts/nuts both alone and in several menu offerings so that severely allergic passengers will know in advance and are able to check for an airline that is more suitable for allergic passengers. In a life threatening situation this would be very helpful as we would never have flown American if we knew nuts were in all your food offerings. This is a very serious issue and no parent/person wants to worry while flying overseas for 13 hours, nor do they want to go hungry because there is nothing safe for them to eat. We have confidence that if American Airlines discontinued serving nuts due the severe allergy potential people would be very understanding and would still fly American. Most people choose their airline by price, comfort, ease, time options, etc – NOT for the food! Why put your airline and your passengers at risk for an anaphylactic reaction on any flight when there are many other suitable options. You can safely serve beef or chicken without nuts and there is no need for nuts to be served as a snack when there are a multitude of other snack choices.
We kindly ask that you revise your food selections to allow for a safer experience for all your passengers.