Mar 16 2012

Flying on Delta with a Peanut Allergy: Our Experience

Delta Flight Info Sign

We learned that my son is allergic to peanuts when he was three years old due to skin testing and bloodwork in investigating another condition.  In the past six years, we’ve become adept at navigating restaurant menus and working with our school, friends, and family to ensure a safe environment for him.  We’ve traveled far and wide, but always in a car where we could control the food that’s brought in.

Our recent trip to California created a new page in our book of dealing with food allergies:  flying with a peanut allergy.  Our experience flying on Delta follows; I welcome any thoughts about your own food allergy airline experiences, or tips for traveling families, in the comments.

Pre-Trip Planning

My pre-trip concerns were two-fold: how to keep our son safe while on the flight, and how to handle epi-pens at the security gate.

About a month before our trip, I called Delta’s main information number and spoke to an agent about the peanut allergy.  She said that Delta does not provide peanut-free flights, but recommended sitting in either the first three or last three rows of the cabin.  We already had seats at the back of the plane, so this was not difficult.  Another option provided was to talk to the gate agent one hour prior to the flight and ask to be assigned (him plus one adult) to the first economy row, which is reserved until that point in time for people with service animals or other special needs.  We decided to stay with our seat assignments at the back of the plane, especially since our family of six was already taking up two rows on one side, which would create a bit of a natural buffer zone.

The phone agent also noted the peanut allergy on our son’s reservation.

Regarding the epi-pens, I checked the airline and TSA websites to see how to handle medications and learned that there should be no problem with them.

At Security

We did nothing special with the epi-pens we had in our carry-on luggage and no questions were asked at security regarding them.

Flight 1: At the Gate

We had arrived quite early for the flight, and as soon as the gate agent arrived, I talked to her about the peanut allergy.  She was very kind, reiterating that there were no peanut-free flights offered on Delta, but that they would not offer peanuts in the three rows ahead of or behind my son.  I asked if I needed to talk to the flight attendants, and she said no, that she would inform them.

Flight 1: On the Plane

We had brought along wipes with which to clean the trays and surfaces in my son’s row, in case there should be any peanut residue there from an earlier flight.  Though we normally do not do this in everyday situations, the idea of having a reaction while in the air with no ambulance or hospital readily available caused us to take more precautions than usual.

When the drinks and snacks were served, the flight attendants worked from front to back.  When they reached the row my son was in, they offered him peanuts.  My husband quietly reminded them that there was a peanut allergy in the row, and they hastily backed up and took back the peanuts they’d just given to passengers in the row ahead.  There ended up being just a two-row buffer instead of the three rows there were supposed to be.  I give the confiscated-peanut passengers credit for not complaining, but I was disappointed that the flight attendants had forgotten the protocol and offered peanuts to them in the first place.

Flight 2:  At the Gate

This time, we did not arrive at the gate until about 20 minutes prior to boarding.  I gave the same spiel to the agent:  “My son has a peanut allergy and the reservation agent said I should let you know.”  He annoyed with me, and said he’d have to put us in the last row.  I mentioned that we were already near the back of the plane, but he said the very back was what he was supposed to do, and now the plane was nearly full and he’d have to move people around.  After pausing a bit, he asked how severe the allergy was.  “Not airborne or contact-sensitive as far as we know,” I replied.  “So just ingestion?”  “Yes,” I replied.  He then decided that where we were sitting was good enough and that they’d have to do a buffer zone of “4 rows or something,” and that he’d have to notify the flight attendants RIGHT NOW.  He walked immediately down the jetway with this information.

Flight 2:  On the Plane

When we boarded, we noticed two small pieces of paper taped to the seatbacks of the third row ahead of our son’s row, marked simply with “ø.” Once everyone in those rows had boarded, the flight attendant explained that there was a customer with a peanut allergy in this area, and that peanuts would not be served beyond that point.  She also asked that any passengers who had brought a peanut snack not eat it during the flight, and that if a peanut snack was the only thing they had brought to eat, she would talk with them about trading it for something else from her cart.  As during the first flight, I did not see or hear anyone complain about this.

As had been promised, the flight attendants discontinued offering peanuts when they got to the marked row.  I did notice that there was still trail mix available for sale, but I did not see if anyone attempted to order it during the flight.

Overall Thoughts:

  • I’m surprised that the peanut allergy was not flagged in the gate agent’s information. Sometimes it is not possible to arrive early enough for seat reassignment, especially if catching a connecting flight.  Similarly, sometimes seat assignments are not available until arriving at the gate, so the allergic passenger could be assigned to a row other than that suggested for people with allergies on Delta.  Delta’s computer system should be able to flag this so the gate attendant knows before we arrive that there’s an allergy on board.
  • The demeanor of the gate agent isn’t what keeps the allergic passenger safe.  The flight attendants are the key piece of the puzzle. Though Flight 1′s gate agent was much friendlier, the flight attendants on the plane were not very attendant.  The gate agent for Flight 2 was more brusque, but the flight attendants on board were much better at communicating with the passengers and following the protocols we’d been told they would use.
  • The allergic passenger was kept anonymous throughout the process. We were not in any way singled out as being the ones with a food allergy in our row.  Any passengers who might be disgruntled did not know if the allergic passenger was right next to them or a few rows away.
  • Our fellow passengers were kind and understanding. No one on either flight was visibly hostile about the absence of peanuts in their row.
  • The cookies and pretzels offered as snacks besides peanuts were a may-contain, so my son couldn’t eat them anyway.  We always travel with our own snacks for him in situations like this.
  • It surprises me that Delta can’t create a peanut-free flight.  I don’t think of myself as a warrior mom for whom everyone else has to change just because my son has a peanut allergy.  But is the right to peanuts on a flight so absolute that they can’t simply be removed from the flight when given advance notice of an allergic passenger on board?
  • I’d think twice about flying on Delta if the allergy were airborne-sensitive. Some people have severe allergic reactions by merely smelling or breathing small amounts of peanut dust.  In an confined space like an airplane, I’d be very hesitant at having just a buffer zone with an airborne reaction history.
  • Traveling with a larger group is a benefit. Our family created its own buffer zone of sorts, just as my son has a self-created group of friends who avoid peanuts so they can sit by him at lunchtime.
  • It was still nerve-wracking. Being locked on an airplane without quick access to a hospital can be dangerous in any medical emergency, but with a severe allergic reaction, time is of the essence.  An epi-pen dose only helps for 15 minutes or so, and a second dose will buy a bit more time, but that’s not enough in the case of a severe reaction while at 30,000 feet.  Preventing a reaction in the first place is really the first defense.

Questions and Comments:

  • Have you flown with a food allergy?  What was your experience?  What precautions did you take?
  • Are there any airlines that offer peanut-free flights?  What are the policies of airlines other than Delta?
  • What could/should we have done differently?

Please share with a comment below.

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37 comments so far

37 Comments to “Flying on Delta with a Peanut Allergy: Our Experience”

  1. LuAnn on 16 Mar 2012 at 1:11 pm

    I cannot imagine having a child with a peanut allgergy. It must make everyday life extra challening. It was interesting to read your experience with Delta. I was just curious why you chose to fly Delta and not Air Tran or US Airways, which are peanut-free. Delta does not guarantee peanut-free flights, but do offer the “buffer zone” that you were offered. Best of luck as you navigate your child through a world filled with nuts. :)

  2. minnemom on 16 Mar 2012 at 1:17 pm

    LuAnn, thank you for your comment.

    Our reasons for choosing Delta were of convenience (non-stop flights from a nearby Delta hub) and the fact that we had vouchers and program miles to pay for all of our tickets. If we’d have been paying cash, I would have looked at more airline options. Good question!


  3. Momof3 on 19 Mar 2012 at 3:19 pm

    “as soon as the gate agent arrived, I talked to her about the peanut allergy… I asked if I needed to talk to the flight attendants, and she said no, that she would inform them.”

    We have flown Delta several times since the Northwest merger, and this was exactly our experience the first time – the flight crew did not get the memo. I had to speak up when they started offering trail mix packs 2 rows away from us. The flight attendant was very apologetic and told me that in the future, I should always let the flight attendants know about the allergy when we board. On our next flight we did exactly that, and since the crew had enough non-nut snacks on board they decided to not only refrain from serving nuts throughout the cabin, but they also made an announcement asking other passengers to refrain from eating nuts. But they also let me know not to expect this on every flight. :)

    Since then we have seen the gamut of attitudes on various flights, from annoyance and outright hostility (usually on the part of the gate agents) to sympathy and cooperation. More often than not, the flight crew has NOT been informed of the allergy despite the fact that we’ve both called ahead, and spoken to the gate agent.

    BTW on our most recent trip we flew US Airways, which doesn’t serve nuts onboard. Yet when we pre-boarded to wipe down seats, tray tables, arm rests, etc. anyway, there was a WHOLE PEANUT lying on my peanut-allergic daughter’s seat, left over from the previous flight. Passengers can carry on any snacks they want, so just because an airline doesn’t serve nuts, doesn’t mean the area is “safe”!

  4. minnemom on 19 Mar 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Ah, yes, a good reminder that despite airline policies, we must still be diligent because passengers are a wildcard.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  5. Sarah on 19 Mar 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. We have flown many times with our peanut allergic 2-year old son. The best experiences have been with AirTran, but that may all change soon because they have been bought out by Southwest Airlines. We have seriously avoided Southwest and Delta because of their poor peanut policies (i.e. still serve peanuts as the complimentary snack). Frontier, United, and American have all been fine too.

    I think that informing the flight attendants is key as they tend to be more responsive than the gate agents. I have heard that you can call Southwest to request a peanut free flight, but it must be done in advance and not the day of the flight. I’d be curious to hear other readers experiences with Southwest.

  6. minnemom on 19 Mar 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Thank you for your response, Sarah. I appreciate hearing from readers who’ve flown on other airlines.

  7. JD's Mom on 19 Mar 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Hi there – what an interesting topic. I have a 14 year old who has a variety of severe food allergies – including ALL nuts. We fly regularly (we always notify them in advance, notify them at the gate, and remind the attendents when he boards) and have pretty much experienced a variety of responses from each airline. We’ve had the flight attendents stop and look up the policy in their book, rudeness of passengers who only brought nuts as a snack and so on. We have had a few good experiences where there are a few rows of buffers – but that is few and far between. Air Canada and United have been the most accomodating that we have experienced as of yet.

    Our last flight was the worst – and was with Frontier – they were so rude, unwilling to make any accomodations to keep my son safe (like avoid selling nuts in our row alone) to one attendent actually behaving rude to my child himself and brought him to tears. I filed a complaint and was clear about how disgusted I was with their treatment of my family.

    Their response was not any better – basically said if hes that allergic that he shouldn’t fly. But they did offer us a discount towards a future flight, which is funny because we will not be flying with Frontier anytime soon.

    Flying is tough…for us it will always be a challenge. But it will not stop us from travelling and doing what we have to do to keep our child safe!

    Thanks for the post!

  8. minnemom on 19 Mar 2012 at 4:31 pm

    It’s so nice to hear from traveling families about their allergy experiences. Since this was our first time flying with children, it was hard to know what to expect. From what all of you are saying, inconsistency is, unfortunately, to be expected. Thanks for sharing your experiences, JD’s Mom.

  9. Lisa Giuriceo on 19 Mar 2012 at 5:35 pm

    We find flying the first flight of the day works best with our food allergic child. We figure the plane will be the cleaniest at that time of day and that the chances will be small that passengers will consume peanuts at that hour and that airlines will serve them in the early morning. It has worked for us. It amazes me that the airlines still serve peanuts on flights when it can pose a danger to so many allergic passengers.

  10. minnemom on 19 Mar 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Lisa, that’s a good point. Anything we can do to lessen the risk is good.

  11. Chew Chew Mama on 19 Mar 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Great post!

    My son was diagnosed with a peanut and tree nut allergy initially at 5 months and then again (with more reliable testing) at two years of age. I agree that even though we take the best precautions as parents, it is still stressful and scary to fly.

    I’ve traveled on several airlines, multiple times already. I have heard that American Airline’s roasts peanuts for first class customers IN THE AIR! That’s enough to make me never want to fly with them. I’ve traveled with Jet Blue and with Southwest airlines. For both flights, I reviewed their policy. I have been able to pre-board on all flights to wipe down seats and get the area safe for my son. This is a huge comfort and relief.

    On both flights, the alternative snack was one that was “processed on shared equipment with peanuts.” And on both flights, I had people complain when they were in the buffer zone.

    My sweet little cub was safe and sound. Enjoyed learning about planes, eating his own safe snacks, watching Calliou on our iPad and taking a nap.

    Having flown several times decreases the anxiety, but it doesn’t go away. They are our babies…we worry!

    Thanks for writing a great post! I enjoyed reading your experiences.

  12. Melanie Lundheim on 23 Mar 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Thanks for this great report. We never fly Delta for these very reasons. It’s not worth the risk.

    Fortunately, our local, safer airline, Sun Country, goes everywhere we need to fly with our two peanut/nut-allergic kids.

    In case it’s of help to others, I’ve done some research and found out which airlines do and don’t serve peanuts. You may view this list here:

  13. [...] Airlines that do serve peanuts, as of August 21, 2010, with links to their specific peanut policies, are Delta, Southwest Airlines, Frontier Airlines. (Here’s a link to an article about someone’s negative experience flying Delta.) [...]

  14. MM on 25 Mar 2012 at 2:16 pm

    @JD’s Mom: Wow. I would of contacted the BBB & maybe even the news/newspaper(s); that behavior is atrocious! To make you or your child cry is unacceptable & no words to express unprofessionalism.

    I’m a 911 field Paramedic & I’ve run my share of mild allergic reactions all the way up to unconscious life-threatening anaphylaxis that had to be intubated before their airway became so constricted. I also have many food allergies (peanuts is not one of them) that are thankfully not life-threatening, but certainly make for an uncomfortable situation for me – I’m lactose & gluten intolerant – & it sure isn’t fun being in closed quarters if GI symptoms were to occur.

    I’ve been on many flights & I’ve only been on a few where the flight attendants casually mentioned there was a peanut-allergy passenger on board & to please refrain from consuming such products. They also served little shortbread cookies & typical refreshments & there were no complaints from anyone, nobody knew who the passenger was, & the attendants remained friendly throughout the flight. Just out of respect for potential issues, I always bring snacks with me that don’t contain nuts or peanut butter.

  15. Nicole at Arrows Sent Forth on 30 Mar 2012 at 9:27 pm

    We recently flew for the first time since learning of my son’s tree nut allergy. Thankfully, we know that he is not airborn or even contact sensitive, and tree nuts are often less common than peanuts. We flew AirTran and the snack was pretzels, so I wasn’t too terribly worried. I was really glad that my son’s allergy is just from ingestion when I looked up and realized the man next to me (just a few seats away from my son) was eating almonds.

    Particularly in the case of peanuts, I would hope that the (unfortunate) rise of peanut allergies would cause the airlines to no longer serve this as the go-to snack. I can’t believe there hasn’t been a significant episode aboard a flight (maybe there has?)

    I’m sure everyone does this, but we have spent a lot of time discussing his allergy w/ my son. We even show him what nuts look like in pictures (he’s only 2 afterall). Occasionally I even hear him ask me or my husband “Is there nuts in this?” when trying a new snack. While I wish as a culture we were more sensitive to kids’ food allergies, I’m trying to teach him some self-preservation. The only good thing about him remembering his really traumatic episode (before we knew he was allergic) is that he knows to take it really seriously.

    Thanks for such a helpful post!

  16. darcie on 03 Apr 2012 at 8:55 am

    Thankfully, we have no allergies in my family, but I am very aware and sensative to the many, MANY others that do have them. There HAS to be a snack that can be served that is more ‘universal’ doesn’t there?
    Ah Delta…not my first choice for flights myself – but for other reasons!

    This was a great, informative post!

  17. Lou on 03 Apr 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Just flew on Southwest with Peanut Allergic 4 year old and I was satisfied. We called a few days prior and they noted the allergy in their system very professionally (ie they knew exactly what to do).

    We were told to tell the gate agent…and they were professional and were expecting us. They then let us go on the flight first and pick our seats and clean them….because it’s cattle call and you don’t have your seat it’s important to get on first and have the time to clean it up. It’s actually a nice feature in that you get to pick whatever seat you want so we picked bulkhead.

    They also changed their snack from peanuts to something without peanuts for the whole plane. However, the snack still probably had the “processed in a factory with” warning…but we just turned the snack down. It was cookies or something similar.

    We had our own row so we didn’t have to worry about the person next to us so that was helpful.

    I did hear a few people grumbling in one row as I was going back to the bathroom but they were older and I assume just ignorant.

    So all in all satisifed.

  18. Lou on 03 Apr 2012 at 4:39 pm

    oh yeah…and TSA was confused by the epipen. Which I was very confused by…..I mean…how could they not be aware of it?

  19. JDS on 30 Apr 2012 at 11:28 am

    I am in my mid-30′s and have peanut and tree nut allergies my entire life. I live in MInnesota and my wife and I have a 3 year-old son who is also allergic to peanuts and tree nuts (along with a bunch of other foods, but that’s irrelevant for this.)

    I used to travel quite a bit domestically for work, and at the time, MSP was a hub for Northwest Airlines. Northwest was phenomenal when it came to peanut allergies. They not only didn’t serve, but would put a reminder out to people to be cautious in handling nuts due to someone having the allergy on the plane. Didn’t say that they couldn’t have their snacks, but just said, to be careful. Nor did they identify the person.

    Now that we are a Delta hub, my travel life is considerably different. Fortunately I am in a line of business that doesn’t require that amount of travel anymore, but for casual travel with the family, the addition of a toddler with allergies have increased the complexity level. I’ve had some pretty bad experience but also some really good experiences.

    1) I agree with the previous poster regarding AirTran. They were on point with Northwest in regards to their service level. I would also agree that UNITED does a phenomenal job with it. I hope their merger with Continental doesn’t result in a reduction in this, as Continental wasn’t the greatest in handling it previously.
    2) We’re fortunate to have Sun Country locally, it’s too bad they don’t fly more places, their handling of allergies is also very good.
    3) Now Delta. Here’s the thing with Delta. It all depends on the flight crew, specifically the head flight attendant. What I have found is that the flight crews based out of MSP that used to be NWA employees will typically pull peanuts from the snack service if you ask very politely and with concern. I also have found that saying that my son and I both have the allergy helps…to have two go down on a plane isn’t in anyone’s interest. For flight crews based out of Atlanta, I have seen a lot lower interest in assisting. But, I always make a point of talking to the head FA, and if possible the pilot. I had a Delta Salt Lake-based pilot tell the FA to pull all nuts after overhearing me talk to my wife about it.
    The other big issue with Delta is plane cleanliness. First thing in the morning is always best, but isn’t always possible. Scour the area around your seats if you have little ones, there seems to always be a stray peanut or two. The other spot to check is under the foldable arms, the gap between two seats seems to also be a catchall. And wipe everything down.
    The other item to note is that I always carry a dust mask with me on my flights, and if my son is along I always make a point of carrying two of them. At least during snack service if the odor gets to be too much, we could put them on. I haven’t had to use them, but it is an option…

    I wish other passengers would realize that we aren’t trying to inconvenience them, that all we are looking to do is have a somewhat safe and enjoyable flight for our families.

  20. minnemom on 30 Apr 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. It’s much appreciated to hear from others with allergies and how they handle flights.

  21. mommyof2 on 01 May 2012 at 7:43 pm

    We flew Southwest with my son who has a severe nut allergy (he was 18 months at the time). The flight crew were very kind and we were able to board early to wipe down our seats. Though we were able to pre-board, there were others who still boarded ahead of us, and were not able to get the bulkhead seats, which I think are the best as nothing (especially nuts) can roll around those seats while going up in the air, since it’s in the very front!

    Well, we wiped down everything and looked on the floor for nuts, and there was nothing. About mid-flight my son bent down to pick up his toy and found a nut and put it in his mouth! It must have rolled back while we were in the air! Immediately he had a reaction, so we started with the benedryll per doctors orders. But as soon as he vomited, we gave him the epi-pen mid air. The flight attendants were very attentive, asking if we needed to land early. Luckily, we had a layover anyway, and paramedics were waiting for my son as soon as we landed. We ended up in the hospital for 7 hours and drove home the next day (12 hours!), because I was too scared to step back on a Southwest flight.

    Later, Southwest refunded our money, but the service rep told my husband this is not an uncommon occurrence on a Southwest flight! She also said we should have flown early in the morning when the plane has just been cleaned. I find it so frustrating that airlines/lawmakers do not realize how dangerous nut allergies are. Of all airlines, I really do wish Southwest would reconsider their peanut policies and be more proactive in protecting their customers. They’ve always had great customer service and performance, but they have lost once loyal customers due to our last flight experience with them and hearing that they are aware of the danger that those with peanut allergies are exposed to. I do realize that no flight or airline can completely eliminate nuts, but there have got to be some better policies.

    We’re planning another trip this summer, and crossing fingers it will work out well with no trips to the hospital.

  22. minnemom on 01 May 2012 at 8:39 pm

    How scary! I agree, there has to be a better way to protect airline customers.

  23. [...] is much more good advice available in these posts from the Food Allergy Initiative,Delicious Baby,Travels with Children, and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis [...]

  24. chiefkays on 22 May 2012 at 2:42 pm

    There is a new Delta policy regarding peanuts. If you notify them in advance, they will not serve peanuts on the flight.

    Peanut Allergies
    When you notify us that you have a peanut allergy, we’ll create a buffer zone of three rows in front of and three rows behind your seat. Effective on flights operating June 1, 2012 and beyond, when you notify us that you have a peanut allergy, we’ll refrain from serving peanuts and peanut products onboard your flight. We’ll also advise cabin service to board additional non-peanut snacks, which will allow our flight attendants to serve these snack items to everyone within this area.

    Gate agents will be notified in case you’d like to pre-board and cleanse the immediate seating area. We’ll do everything we can, but unfortunately we still can’t guarantee that the flight will be completely peanut-free.

  25. minnemom on 22 May 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Thank you for this information about the change in Delta policy.

  26. Belinda on 08 Jul 2012 at 2:27 pm

    My son is severely allergic to peanuts. We travel on planes twice a year and have found the handling very different. The best has been Jet Blue as they don’t serve peanuts themselves which to your point of airborne allergies is the worst. We have not had good experiences with Delta as they are based in Georgia where they make peanuts. Could have lots to say on this topic but will leave it here.

  27. Adrienne on 07 Aug 2012 at 9:03 pm

    As a teenager traveling with an airborne peanut allergy, I recommend using United Airlines. They have peanut-free flights available, and if you have any concerns they are happy to help you. They don’t serve peanuts on board either. On a flight from Seattle to Japan they made sure that there was no peanuts the entire time, and that passengers were aware that there was someone present with a peanut allergy.

  28. minnemom on 08 Aug 2012 at 5:48 am

    Adrienne, thank you for sharing your experience and recommendation.

  29. minnemom on 08 Aug 2012 at 5:48 am

    Belinda, thanks for the sharing your thoughts. I hadn’t considered the Georgia/Delta connection!

  30. Twinherder on 01 Sep 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I have two four year olds with peanut allergies, and have worked in school settings with various levels of food allergies. I have encountered people who anaphylax if peanuts have been present in the area in the past few hours. The difficulty when dealing with allergens will always be inversely proportional to the sensitivity. There is no way to assure any allergen is not present.

    So take all the precautions you can, but be realistic about the environment. If your epipens are more than a few months old and have experienced less than ideal temperature ranges consider getting fresh ones. If your allergies are sever request to be seated first so you can “test” the environment for the maximum time before the flight. This will also give you the chance to talk to the flight personnel. also consider bringing an antihistamine. This will not 100% block a continued reaction, but with the epipens could provide a MUCH longer duration of suppression than you could get from the epipens alone.

  31. Eliz on 27 Nov 2012 at 9:03 pm

    I am over 40 with a lifelong peanut and treenut allergy. Worst by far is Frontier…attendant told me when I told her I had a severe nut allergy (so could she not hand out almonds to the 200 people surrounding me) she said “If we had known you had this severe an allergy we wouldn’t have let you on the plane.” She was completely hostile to the extent that the strangers around me handed back their nuts. Well that was 2006 — I will NEVER fly on Frontier again. Note to customer service went unanswered. Have two out of my three kids with nut allergies and by far Southwest and Alaskan Airlines are the most accommodating, but no one reaches the depths of Frontier. One other note — my allergies are worse now than when I was younger — I now wipe down my seat though I didn’t used to. Try to make sure my kids realize every reaction they have makes their bodies more efficient at (over)responding to the allergen.

  32. barbara on 19 Mar 2013 at 7:32 pm

    you were very lucky. I called made sure that it would be safe for my child to fly on delta. They reassured me this would not be a problem. I then booked a round trip for me and my two children. I even called the day before our flight to make sure it would be safe for my child to fly and that they flagged this flight as she reassured me they would do. They told me everything was in order and that when i arrived at the airport to remind them so they knew where we were sitting etc. I did just that at the gate when they told me that would be no problem. No problem till the captin and flight attendents arrived. So happens one of the flight attendents had peanuts and refused not to eat them during the flight and would be serving food and drinks around and to my son. So the captian turned around to me and my two children and refussed my child to fly on his flight. My children were so upset as we were flying to see a gravely ill family member. All the people on this flight wanted this young child to fly and had no problem not eating peanuts during the flight and two people asked the flight attendent not to eat her peanuts. She refused and boarded the plane. Delta after repeated request never refunded my three round trip tickets. I had to fly another airline and spend twice as much on that flight to see a gravely ill loved one. I would never fly Delta again!

  33. [...] flight attendants, let every staff member know about the allergy and ask what they can do to help. This post from Delicious Baby is one mom’s account of her trip on Delta Airlines with her son, who is allergic to peanuts. The [...]

  34. Janice on 07 Feb 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Hi- I came across your blog when I googled “epipen on plane”. We will be flying on Delta in a couple of weeks so I was interested in your story. It will be our first flight with our PA daughter in 9 years so I am unsure if we need a letter from her pediatrician stating we are allowed to carry the Epipen or if the label will suffice. In any case, I called Delta last month to request that no peanuts be served aboard our flight. Although it was a lengthy process the agent assured me that for our flight, no peanuts will be served, but of course they cannot guarantee that no passengers will bring peanut products on board. So I’m hoping their policy has changed since your bad experience. After reading the comments I will definitely call ahead and discuss the allergy with gate agents, etc.

  35. minnemom on 07 Feb 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Actually, I think things have improved a bit. We flew last fall with the kids and Delta’s policy had changed. Once I made the call to the call center and they noted it on our reservation, I did not have to talk to anyone else. On both flights, they made an announcement that due to a severe allergy, they would be serving no peanuts, and I believe they asked passengers to also refrain if they’d brought their own, though I don’t believe they would/could enforce that. As a family of six, we created our own buffer zone around our son so it worked for us, but his allergy is not as reactive as some.

    The epi-pens are no problem at all–we just carry them through security and no one bats an eye, asks for a note, etc.

    I hope your trip goes well.

  36. JDS on 07 Feb 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I had commented earlier and read the recent posts. I have been traveling Delta pretty consistently over the last few months and as an adult with PA, it can be a little nerve racking, but I also have a 5 year-old with PA too and that does up it a little. Just a couple of more recent observations:

    1) When inclement weather hits, the call center can be very difficult to reach, but Delta has used the “call back” system periodically and this works well.
    2) Going standby can be difficult, you need to really find a “Red Coat” which is a senior Delta agent to make sure that the Peanut Allergy issue gets resolved prior to boarding.
    3) Make sure you wait until the gate agent for your gate is at their station, be patient for them to finish what they are doing, bring your ticket to the desk and say, “I would like to confirm that the Peanut Allergy alert is on my travel record.” They will then review. Then ask, “could you please inform in person the cabin crew of this situation? I would like to board early to wipe down my seating area.”
    4) When the Gate Agent then announces for “families traveling with children or those that require extra time to get down the jetway” that’s your cue to go.
    5) When I get on the plane, I introduce myself to the flight attendants and let them know I am the individual with the Peanut Allergy. If I am traveling with my son, I also let them know that. Sometimes my wife waits to board with the kids until I have the area cleaned up.

    I’ve really found the flight attendants to be for the most part very receptive and for the most part understand the “no peanut” policy. I just confirm with them that pretzels and cookies will be served on the flight. The way I look at peanut allergies on a plane, at least for me without being airborne allergic, is that it’s not a big deal for me if 2 or 5 people eat peanuts on the plane. It’s when all 300 open up the containers and eat them at once. Kind of like being allergic to grass pollen…it’s fine if only one lawn is mowed in the neighborhood, but if everyone mows, you get into trouble.

    The only negative experience I had was a couple seated directly behind my family and they made a comment along the lines of, “why do we go to all of this trouble for these people. Why do they think they’re so special?” If my son wasn’t there, I would have shared why I think we are so special. But, to paint a vivid picture of in-flight anaphylaxis in front of a 5-year-old probably wouldn’t be good. The counter to this was a couple behind me on another flight that said, “I wish they would have done that for Karen.” I don’t know who Karen is to them or if she had a bad reaction to Peanuts, but it was nice to hear positive acknowledgement during the snack announcement for once.

    Which, to close, is the only thing I’d now change with the way Delta handles it, I would quite frankly prefer no announcement and that they just pull the peanuts from the service. I understand there are some that can’t have the dust of someone else eating the nuts due to airborne allergy, but there is probably enough dust in the HVAC system anyway that flying Delta is probably a tough draw for them. The announcement brings additional focus to the allergen whereas most people probably wouldn’t notice the missing nuts from their snack. If you aren’t airborne allergic, they shouldn’t have to do the announcement.

    Good luck!

  37. cece on 08 May 2014 at 5:20 pm

    As a person with a severe TREE NUT allergy it is very frustrating for me that all the airline policies only talk about peanuts. I used to fly SunCountry, but recently was served a salad in first class with walnuts. I was told they didn’t serve nuts. Of wait they don’t know what a “nut” is apparently. That’s only peanuts. I purposely fly first class to create a barrier and people are less likely to bring food. I was told by Kim Reagan the Sr. Manager of SunCountry customer service that SunCountry has made a conscious decision to continue to serve nuts. When I inquired maybe there was an education issue since they don’t serve peanuts intentionally, why would they intentionally serve tree nuts? He stated they are aware serving tree nuts could cause a severe life-threatening medical condition on their planes but they have made a decision to continue to serve all nuts anyway (not peanuts which isn’t a nut). This information came from the president of Sun Country.

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