No more nuts in First Class or Coach on Delta flights (sometimes)

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I am very sympathetic to those with allergies. I love cats. I don’t have any right now, but had the most adorable one ever on the planet for 18 years!

But I have had friends over who are so cat allergic that they, after a very short time, can not breath or see as their “breathing parts” (can you tell I am not an MD) just go crazy even when the adorable fuzzy one was no where near them!

Thanks to a tip from blog reader Steve, I reached out to Delta to confirm that the policy regarding peanuts on Delta flights has changed as of July 1st. You can see using the way back machine what the old policy was

So, if you requested it, 3 rows front and back of you got no nuts. They could naturally still get pretzels and Biscoff cookies if they were catered on that flight.

But now the new policy is this:

Peanut Allergies

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.”

So there you are. If you are on a flight and get no nuts, don’t get upset and just know you are helping a fellow traveler not suffer on the flight.

But I have a question if this is going to work. I would love to know from readers who either have, or have known someone who has, severe peanut allergies. Will blocking nuts on the current flight work? What if this is a CRJ, with many times almost instant off and back on again loading, and the previous flight served nuts? So chime in and tell me what you think! – René

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27 comments

  1. I like peanuts but is it really such a big deal to just not hand them out on flights? We got rid of smoking on planes can’t we all survive this as well. Just wondering out loud. There are many people allergic to nuts so I think I can handle a flight without them for a few hours. Just pass the biscoffs please.

  2. What happens when someone one row up whips out their own bag of peanuts or nut base product that they brought on board? People have been doing this since the dawn of flight. Seems a bit over reactive since we haven’t heard of a peanut allergy epidemic on board flights.

  3. I was on a flight last year where the attendant announced they would not be serving peanuts due to someone having an allergy. Seemed pretty straight forward, and didn’t notice anyone having an issue with it.

  4. People get very passionate about this so I would lke to add some data to the discussion.
    By way of background, I am a pediatric pulmonary and asthma physician who has directed a severe asthma clinic, has published research about asthma triggers, and has written a highly regarded asthma handbook for parents and children.
    There is a fundamental difference between food (nut) allergy and inhalant (cat or house dust) allergy. Rene’s friends are correct that cat dander allergen is easily aerosolized and inhaled to produce breathing problems that can be severe. This can persist long after the cat is gone.

    Nut allergens are large proteins that are usually not small enough to aerosolize. Furthermore these allergens must be ingested – not inhaled – to produce symptoms. Even if you are desperately allergic to nuts, you can sit right next to someone in economy who is “going nuts” with no risk to you. If you so choose, you can probably give them a kiss without fear (at least from the allergy perspective). Because food and nut allergy can be so dramatic and severe, there is a huge psychologic component to some of these reactions. A nice review of this (not written by me) can be found at
    http://www.allergysafecommunities.ca/assets/common_beliefs_faan_2003.pdf

    It is important that DAL clearly identify all foods that contain nuts. They need not ban nut eaters from any row or airplane unless this is to save them money. Perhaps they fear defending an lawsuit from an overly concerned parent. However there is no medical necessity for this decision.

  5. Brue — Good to hear the perspective of a medical professional. While an airline chooses which snacks to provide (or not), they can’t control what snacks individual passengers bring onboard.

    Passengers will always carry nuts with them since carb overload is not healthy, and carrying fresh fruit/veggies is not always practical. Besides, there might be someone on the flight with severe allergies to oranges or whatever else I chose to carry.

  6. The “just go with it” mentality is what is causing so many problems in this country. “Oh it’s just this one thing” turns into a landslide. Remember when “oh it’s just $25 for your 3rd bag” and look where it is now. Getting rid of smoking made sense because it impacted everyone. I have an intolerance for screaming babies – can I request one not to be on my flight? I have migraines onset by florescent bulbs – can those be removed from all flights? It’s absurd.

    I like the comments Bruce made above. In addition, if someone is that allergic then why are they getting into an enclosed recycled air chamber like an airplane? You don’t think there is peanut dust in these planes dating back to the 80s? If you are that worried as an allergy sufferer, get yourself a protective mask. My friend’s child has the “it will kill him” peanut (and other) allergy, and this doesn’t stop them from flying or requesting no nuts.

  7. I couldn’t agree more with Thomas. Where does it end? Let’s require everyone to shower before getting on a plane, I don’t want to site next to a smelly person for hours. Let’s stop allowing pets on planes because some people are allergic to cats and/or dogs.

  8. When this happened to my wife, it made me chuckle. They had no other snacks on board.
    She submitted a complaint and got 250 miles as “compensation”.

  9. @Steve – don’t forget you can while ON BOARD complain and get points as well from the hand unit they have to bill credit cards etc! – Rene

  10. Instead of a reactive change in airline policy that affects all passengers, I think that people need to be proactive and accountable for themselves (and any allergies that they have). This also goes for the needs of children, disabilities, etc. If I have a peanut allergy, then I’m well educated enough about my condition to know that banning peanuts from the entire plane isn’t necessary for me to avoid having a reaction. I know to specifically request a special meal (or avoid any prepared foods on board that I’m not 100% sure don’t contain peanuts, or whatever else I’m allergic to). I also don’t expect everyone else around me to take responsibility for my condition, because it’s my problem and not theirs.

    If I have a cat allergy (which a significant number of the population do, whether they realize it or not), I remember that many of my fellow passengers have cats. So this means that they carry cat dander on their bodies and no their clothing when they board the aircraft. But, having never head of any instance in which a person complained about a cat allergy on board, I also remember that the air that I’m breathing on board is some of the cleanest air I will ever breathe and I stop worry about it.

    And if it’s not safe or possible to avoid a potentially life-threatening reaction to something that I may encounter while flying, then I don’t fly.

    A very good friend of mine will become very ill if he eats anything with seeds of any kind, yet he never expects anyone around him to change their behavior because of his condition.

  11. Thanks Rene. I’ll keep that in mind for my next flight. My wife was solo on this trip, and she’s not one to make a stink in public.

  12. @Steve – also keep in mind, if you are not happy with offer #1 of points, you could always tweet to @Deltaassist via Direct Message and ask for a little more to make it right! 😉

  13. Woooo hoooo I’m so glad. Delta Traveller, you haven’t heard about this because you don’t have an allergy and haven’t been looking for it, it does and has happened. Gosh sorry that someone should risk dying so you can have a bag of 10 peanuts! Its no big deal, eat the stupid pretzels instead.

  14. Really, Bruce, with credentials like yours, I’m shocked that you made such [edit] claims.

    Nut protein most certainly CAN be aerosolized, producing astonishingly frightening results.

    You have written books for children, but do you have any of your own? If you did, you would realize that most 4 yr olds touch their face, eyes, nose and mouth (you know, those pesky mucous membranes) approximately 5000 times a day. Which means that if they touch anything that a pea-nutty finger has touched (remember now- 1/1000th of a peanut is all it takes), boom- you’re in business. It shows an abysmal lack of common sense to think that such a scenario – a plane full of people eating peanuts – does not drastically increase your odds for a reaction.

    Do people who mock peanut allergy so much think that those of us who have to deal with it and, worse yet, see our children deal with it, think that we are doing this for KICKS? Do you all think it is FUN? [edit] Do you think we ENJOY staying up all night on a regular basis observing our children’s breathing after they have had exposure from an unknown source of cross contamination? [edit] Is living without your precious peanuts for 3 [edit] hours REALLY going to set you back???

    I’m astonished. I’m so astonished by the hate. It is disgusting. Stop it, people, grow up and have a little compassion!!!!!!!!!

  15. Seriously? For a Dr., you must’ve gotten your MD on the internet! We did not choose to have a life threatening peanut allergy! AND IT IS AIRBORNE!!!! Children or anyone didn’t choose it, like you wouldn’t choose cancer if you got it……smelly people who didn’t shower, screaming babies, cat allergies, etc. are not ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK allergies!!! Peanut allergy can KILL YOU IN 10-30 SECONDS!!!!! But if you want people to live on, then by golly they can’t live in a bubble and not fly!!!!

  16. My son is allergic to peanuts & had a severe all over body hive reaction at a football game (that reaction lasted days and was extremely uncomfortable). It happened because a guy behind him spilled some on his coat (not skin) & that was all it took. Another time a neighbor gave him a creme filled cookie thinking it was vanilla & he thought the color was off and smelled it – and stopped breathing from putting it to his nose. I had to epi him on the way to the hospital. Just imagine having a blue faced kid with fear & his eyes gasping for air on a flight like I did in my car that day. I am thankful I was close by & had the epi pen and could get him to a hospital.

    Peanut allergy kills very quickly. No PA person wants to bother your life or flight – but there are times when a PA person has to go somewhere and it is too far to drive. When you are asked to refrain from peanuts for your flight, please be thankful you & your loved ones do not have to
    deal with this condition 24/7.

    Instead of whining about missing out on a peanut product while traveling please just be thankful you don’t have to worry about this life threatening allergy and show a little kindness and compassion to those that do.

  17. I cannot believe a medical professional is actually stating something that is false. Where did you get your degree. Nut allergies can actually get a reaction from airborn particles. They cannot sit next to someone who can “go crazy” with a bag of peanuts. And to say a kiss can be ok as well shows your ignorance. Were you on the flight with my niece who had to be given oxygen because the passenger went nuts so to speak with his snack after she asked him to please not open the peanuts until she asked to be moved. Everyone acts as if people overreact to these allergies but breathing is kinda important huh? I am still shocked a medical professional can be so wrong. Yes a person with a severe peanut allergy does not need to injest the peanut to have a reaction just the mere smell can send their body into a severe even deadly reaction.

  18. Bruce. Where did you go to medical school. I need to make sure I don’t chose my doctor from anyone on that list. I am completely shocked by your ignorance with your credentials. Peanuts can kill without Innesting them. A person severely allergic can OT sit next to someone who decides to “go to town” on a bag of peanuts. And to even go as far as to suggest a mere kiss. Wow. Time to get back in the classroom.

  19. Bruce,[edit], a simple review of the latest literature will find recent studies that confirm cases of persons having allergic reactions as a result of the peanut protein in the air. But of course, as a board certified physician I suspect you would know this.

    Bottom line, if someone is angry because they can’t have there little peanut snack, buy them in the terminal, ignore the gate agents warning, then you’ll only have yourself to blame when the aircraft has to declare an in-flight medical emergency and divert to another airport. Do you think that is an enjoyable experience for the rest of the passengers. It is nerve racking to have a 757 descend from 34,000 feet in 8 minutes to make an emergency landing. I’ve been on flights that had to do this. You don’t arrive at your destination, but at least you got to eat your peanuts? /sarcasm off.

    Brilliant thinking folks. Maybe you “pro peanut” people should go research the American’s with Disabilities Act and the Air Carriers Access Act. These people are entitled to the same access to air transportation as you are in an environment that is safe for them to travel in.

    You don’t like it? Tough. It’s the law of the land. I can’t believe people are actually rationalizing that it’s wrong to ban peanuts on aircraft. If it it helps mitigate the risk that someone could lose their life? I cannot possibly believe the opponents to peanut bans are American.

    Where is the American spirit to look out for one another and help each other out?

  20. Well Bruce you need to go back to school. I have two boys who have reacted to the smell of pnuts!!! On more than one occasion. You people who need peanuts on a 2 hour flight are just as bad as the parents who claim all their kids will eat is peanut butter When you kid is looking at you on the way to the ER saying they don’t want to die then you can appreciate the hype. Our allergists come not only from children’s hospital of Michigan but from beaumont as well you are a disgrace to the medical profession. You have obviously never seen a child with true anaphylaxis to nuts well I have and on more then one occasion.

  21. I have also had at least 3 reactions to air born tree-nut particles. Twice, someone was cracking nuts in the shell and I had a reaction. In one case I was at least 8 feet away and outside and started having a reaction. Another time I walked into someone’s house who was making banana bread with walnuts. It was in the oven when I arrived and still in there when I left 15 minutes later. I started to react outside the house. So, although Bruce says this is impossible I believe it is, first hand. I will also add I am an adult. I was careful not touching anything and feel confident that it was air born particles that caused the reaction.

  22. I think the world could live without peanuts on a plane. I like them, but give me a few more biscotti biscuits or an alternate, and my airplane snack need is satisfied.

  23. I started bringing my own peanuts with me when I fly, which is 4 – 6 flights per week. Because my body doesn’t tolerate Gluten I can’t have the pretzels or the cookies and the peanuts are a great snack.

  24. Hi, can you please stop comparing allergies to intolerances and dislikes. It’s not that I dislike peanuts, it’s that they will kill me. It’s an entirely different issue, here. As for the smoking thing. Even if you could still smoke, what’s the possibility that it would kill someone from one flight alone. I’ll tell you, impossible. Oh, the person next to you has BO, will that kill you? No.

    This is the worst thing about this whole thing. I didn’t choose this. I don’t want to live in fear, unable to touch anything around me for fear it could kill me, because it could.

    I touched peanuts once and my whole face ballooned, I couldn’t see anything, and my throat was starting to close.

    Forgive me if I inconvenienced you by you not being able to eat nuts for a few hours.

    Ugh. And to make matters worse I have heard many anaphylaxis recently on planes, and it was from the air particles or w/e and it was because one guy wanted to eat peanuts when the airline told him not to, and they banned him indefinitely from their flights because he had done it before.

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