Note from Lianne (No Nut Traveler- I want to remind everyone that airlines are under no obligation to not serve nuts or any other food allergen. To date, there are no federal guidelines to protect food allergic passengers on airplanes with the exception of the right in the United States to pre-board an airline to clean for previous contamination. Decisions to assist food allergic passengers are inconsistent amongst the airlines and often are made on a case-by-case basis by individual flight crews. What assistance you get from staff is often dependent on the mood of a flight crew.
I called Delta Airlines ahead of time and was told on the phone that if my nut allergy was airborne that nuts would not be served as long as I let the flight attendants know, regardless of the 3 row buffer policy. I was told that my safety would most definitely be priority and to not feel shy to let them know of my allergy and that everything would be just fine. On my flight from NYC to Las Vegas they didn’t serve nuts and it took minimal effort to get this done.
On my flight home on 6/24/2021, however, I was treated like less than human. I went through the same process I did for the first flight but was immediately rudely interrupted as I was explaining my life threatening allergy. The flight attendant told me that they will be serving tree nuts on the flight regardless of my allergy. I told her my allergies were potentially life threatening, and she told me it wasn’t her problem.
The flight attendant stood there and tried to ignore me as I continued to plead for help, My boyfriend and I tried to calmly try to get her to understand but she rolled her eyes and stormed off to get her boss. He was professional but also told me that he was obligated to serve nuts if someone asked for them, that he had no choice. He repeatedly said they had other snacks, but since the CDC states that tree nuts aren’t airborne they couldn’t accommodate me. Staff even tried telling me that I simply should not fly, and that if I continued to complain that I’d be asked to leave the plane. I would then be left with no way home while the rest of my family goes back home.
At that point I started to panic, I cried and asked them why a snack was more important than my life. I was told that policy must be followed which is that nuts will be served. They said there was no way to guarantee that nuts would not be served. I felt so helpless. I was told that if I have an Epi Pen then it’ll will be fine. I explained how Epi- Pen use requires immediate medical attention and that they’d need to do an emergency landing.
At this point the captain came to speak to me to see what the issue was. I told him about my tree nut allergy, and he right away said that no nuts need to be served. He then said that it wasn’t an issue and that there was plenty of snack options. All of a sudden the people who told me over and over again that my needs couldn’t be accommodated changed their mind because of the captain. I barely even had to explain it to him for him to help me. He even went throughout the plane once I was seated and told everyone this will be a nut free plane for the day. He said that a man on the plane has a nut allergy, as to not put me on the spot and embarrass me for having a disability.
I am telling my story now because this has to do with the lack of empathy of many flight staff. How could I go one flight with nothing but kindness and accommodations, to complete and utter ignorance and zero care for my allergy? Staff needs to be trained on the importance of allergies. I had barely finished my sentence and the attendant was immediately rude to me about my allergy. I want to do everything I can to spread awareness and make sure this doesn’t happen to others. It’s time for people to take life threatening allergies more seriously.