Peanut Ban Airlines: Allergies and Fairness to others

By Alan Ng - Jun 13, 2010

It has been reported that federal regulators are considering stamping a ban on serving peanuts on all airlines in the U.S, over continued fears that the tasty snack bring to allergy sufferers.

As reported from Sun Herald, an estimated 1.8 million Americans suffer from peanut allergies in the U.S, with regulators keen to put an end to the unnecessary health risks that can occur thousands of miles in the air.

While this would be good news for those who do suffer from peanut allergies, it is obviously bad news for peanut farmers and food companies who claim that the move would be unfair to them and their businesses.

The Sun Herald adds that the U.S. Transportation Department are now seeking feedback from allergy sufferers, the food industry, medical experts and frequent flyers on whether the move would be welcome or not.

There are two sides to the argument of course. You could say that flyers could simply choose another snack to eat on board, rather than risk the health of others around them, or you could be thinking that it isn’t your responsibility to ensure the good health of those around you.

How would you feel if airlines were to open a separate cabin for allergy sufferers? It would seem like a fair way to ensure everyone is happy.

Do you agree or not? Give us your thoughts on this.

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  • Lacey

    People are so ignorant! You would think different if your or your child had a allergy to peaunuts. It is a LIFE threatening allergy, not just an allergy to dogs or something. So, "don't fly?", so stupid some people.

  • Tania

    It's very interesting to read these posts. I would have thought that for the life of another human being, a couple of peanuts on a flight would not be such an outcry for some many. There are huge differences between intolerances and allergies. An intolerance is what can make you feel particularly uncomfortable and possibly have a slight side effect. Peanut Allergies can be life threatening. People with anaphlaxis don't necessarily have to eat a peanut to have their throat swell up and die. Peanut dust can become airbourne, especially with 200-400 people opening packets at the same time, and as the air is re-circulated particles can be ingested unwillingly. Yes, it is a growing concern for many families, and is only going to get worse as our immune systems become less tolerant. Do you really think that you would die on an aeroplane without them? For godness sake, let's start thinking of people around us. Yes we do live in a PC world, but consideration for others should still be the at the forefront. Have a packet of peanuts when you get home and enjoy the safe environment for all!

  • Tania

    It's very interesting to read these posts. I would have thought that for the life of another human being, a couple of peanuts on a flight would not be such an outcry for some many. There are huge differences between intolerances and allergies. An intolerance is what can make you feel particularly uncomfortable and possibly have a slight side effect. Peanut Allergies can be life threatening. People with anaphlaxis don't necessarily have to eat a peanut to have their throat swell up and die. Peanut dust can become airbourne, especially with 200-400 people opening packets at the same time, and as the air is re-circulated particles can be ingested unwillingly. Yes, it is a growing concern for many families, and is only going to get worse as our immune systems become less tolerant. Do you really think that you would die on an aeroplane without them? For godness sake, let's start thinking of people around us. Yes we do live in a PC world, but consideration for others should still be the at the forefront. Have a packet of peanuts when you get home and enjoy the safe environment for all!

  • Beenthere

    Airplanes are a sealed enviorment with a recirculating + some fresh air system. Like a tin can with a vent. Peanut residue recirculates and lingers, increasing airborne exposure far more than on the ground in a room or park. Residue on seats and tables lingers for many hours or days. Only a small amount can cause a life threatening reaction. An airline is a PUBLIC transport, privately operated. To not eat peanuts for six or 8 hours on a plane is not a hardship. Risking your life everytime you fly for someone's roasted peanuts or PB and J sandwich is a true hardship for the peanut allergic person and their family. If you can't fly you are handicapped from a lot of jobs and other opportunites in life. Don't be small minded and small hearted. Would you ask a bee sting allergic person to fly in planes with a beehive in the next seat? The option of "don't fly" is like the option of "don't drive". Tough to live your whole life that way. And surprise, most of those with a peanut allergy cannot hire a private aircraft.

  • Laureen

    I was flying with a severe nut allergy child in the past and have stopped in the past few years due to rising concerns, I am flying 4 times this summer and am concerned. I am flying first to Florida and since it's a short flight, many on board will probably bring along their food, which could contain allergy laden foods. I've had good success with many airlines except those who have a first class. Although I was told no nuts would be served on these flights, they however would not stop the warm nut serves they had for first class, unless I was a passenger there. (I was not told of this at time of purchase). I will never fly American again. I know I am one family, but the anxiety it caused my family has stopped us from flying for the past 4 years. We are flying overseas, the airline has given many assurance that we will have a safe flight, I am more at easy on an international flight b/c many people won't bring outside food, knowing that they will get food on board.

  • Linja

    It is important to understand that peanut allergy is more serious than most allergies. A person with peanut allergy does NOT have to EAT peanuts to suffer. So if you think doing without peanuts for a few hours is inconvenient, compare it to having your plane make an emergency landing because some kid is about to die from smelling peanut dust. And what if he does die in the row in front of you? Are you still enjoying those peanuts???

  • Peanut protein can stay on the surface of a seat or a tray table for a long time if not clean with proper detergent. There are kids that have die from exposure. I think there can be a happy medium. If there is a passenger with airborne allergies, other passengers can abstain from eating peanuts for a few hours. I think it is not a ridiculous request. If you have ever seen a child turn blue from an allegic reaction, you wouldn't want anyone to experience it. It is scary! I offer an alternative visit http://www.coverit4me.com for airplane seat covers that can help passenger after wiping down the seat. However, it will not protect airborne allergic reactions.

  • trebuchet1066

    continued I worked for a PEDIATRIC ALLERGIST/IMMUNOLOGIST. I kept hearing how allergy ridden little Damien was. After all, Mama & Dada are allergic to epinephrine (it makes my heart beat really fast-wow, really?), antihistamines-make us very drowsy-really? How little Damien is allergic to all antibiotics-they give him diarrhea-wow, beyond belief. IF & this is a really big IF your child has a true allergy (anaphylactic), it is your responsibility to keep peanuts/peanut products out of his/her mouth, but it is NOT your right to keep it out of my mouth or the mouth of my child. You chose to have children. You accepted the responsibility for caring for those children. You are not responsible for me/my loved ones. If you persist in pulling peanuts out of the market, I am going to demand that white wines are taken off the market due to sulfites & sushi be taken out of restaurants due to mercury & possibility of parasites..in other words, grow a pair-police your own and leave the rest of us alone.

  • trebuchet1066

    I'm amazed by the sheer # of children who have "life-threatening allergic reactions" to peanuts, milk, air. When I was a kid, nearly every kid ate PB&J's & not 1 of us died of an allergic reaction-a couple might have drowned at the beach (quick close down beaches), 1 or 2 may have gotten hit by a car (quick ban the sale of all cars), or fell out of trees (quick clear cut the forests), but not 1 died of anaphylactic shock. I worked for a PEDIATRIC ALLERGIST/IMMUNOLOGIST. I kept hearing how allergy ridden little Damien was. After all, Mama & Dada are allergic to epinephrine (it makes my heart beat really fast-wow, really?), antihistamines-make us very drowsy-really? How little Damien is allergic to all antibiotics-they give him diarrhea-wow, beyond belief.

  • tooworied

    Parents need to "Parent" and make sure your child does not eat peanuts. Adults with allergies, as I have read all comments, seem to know how to choose. Most of the Mothers don't want to pay attention. It's easier to not have to think about it on a plane and anywhere else there may be peanuts. I say stay alert and be a parent.

  • trebuchet1066

    OK everyone, how about a little self-policing & self-responsibility. If you're allergic to peanuts don't eat 'em. I'm allergic to sulfa drugs, so I don't take Bactrim. Just because I'm allergic to it doesn't mean that no one else should take it or that I don't sit or talk with people who are taking it. Rather than working on taking peanuts away from us, I'd rather the FAA work on getting all airports modernized ATC systems, making sure that terrorists don't get on my plane & that my ENTIRE flight crew is sober, well-rested & ready to fly. Leave my snack foods alone!!!!!!!!!

    • test

      peanut allergies are different from sulfa drugs. you don't have to eat peanuts to have a serious reaction.

      person next to you, or person on the "bus in the sky" before you had them, and they left peanut protein all over the seat, tray table, etc.

      People treat airplanes little better than they treat public toilets, so the allergen is everywhere you touch.

  • Johnson

    More drama in the skies unfolds today as a flight was re-routed and landed in an emergency at NewFoundland Airport when a PEANUT was found rolling around in the aisle. the passengers were deplaned and the peanut was removed by Haz-Mat teams and there were no injuries . The only Possible injury was when the sniffer dog found and Ate a small amount of them . We'll know more on this story when Toxicology reports and the dogs stomach is pumped .

  • Johnson

    Well, it looks like the ,me ,me ,me's won again . Obviously Dana can think NO further than her selfish nose . Kindly give the child a Diephenhydromine Hydrochloride tablet(Ben****ll)
    and she will be fine (that's what I do) it's harmless and NATURAL , instead of selfishly imposing MY problems on to everyone else who Love Peanuts ! ! ! By the way do You keep an EPI Kit for anaphylaxis,(just in case) ? I have some VERY serious allergies myself
    (one little sesame seed can KILL me !) Peanut Police are NOT the answer . Duh.

    • test

      Here's the deal. benadryl and epipens are no guarantee. If a severe reaction occurs, an epipen may or may not halt a life-threating reaction. It is designed to hold over for 15-20 minutes until you can make it a hospital.

      If it happens in flight, there is no guarantee the plane can land in time to get you to the hospital. If you think "oh well if they have a reaction", think again.

      Even if you don't care if someone else dies, please consider this.

      If your selfishness causes my child to have a reaction in flight, that plane is landing the nearest place it can. It's not going to be "epi-pen injection, all's fine, you get to land at your destination on time, stand up as soon as the fasten seat belt sign if off, and push others out of your way so you can be the first to deboard.

  • Joy

    My husband is severly allergic to peanuts – so much so that even being in a room with a bowl of peanuts set out as a snack (as at a party) can start an allergic reaction. This would be good news for him; as it stands now, he has to load up on Benadryl before flying, which means he is still groggy when he reaches his destination. A separate cabin would help, but not eliminate the problem. I know that peanuts are cheaper than other nuts, but there are other options.

  • Dtrump

    I know of many people with allergies to many different products, animals, or plants.
    To ban each of these products, animals, or plants from our world is not an acceptable solution, but another knee jerk reaction of our ever changing country being ran by the few, not the many. People making their problems into everyone elses problems has become the norm, even though the vast majority are not considered. I feel for allergy sufferers, I also feel for cancer patients, diabetes patients, etc., but most restaurants, weddings, grocey stores, etc., all have the peanuts or peanut products in open air – next we could just ban weddings…….

  • Terri

    I'm very allergic to cats, but customers who pay to fly their cat, get to bring their cat. I travel for business just about every week. I carry multiple doses of Benadryl with me at all times to address MY allergy. I pay an airfare rate that used to include a meal. Now all we get is a cup of water/soda and a pouch containing about 18 peanuts. Yep, that's going to hold me for a five hour flight. If you're allergic to peanuts, don't eat them, don't touch them, pop a Benadryl, carry an epi-pen, ask your seatmate to turn away from you while eating them. Don't make 136 other people suffer their little pouch of 18 peanuts!

  • EK Kadiddlehopper

    Most everyone ia allergic to something! I am allergic to scallops and watermelon. However, I am happy when others enjoy these items in my presence. Let's not be too nutty with our illogical rules and ALL turn into nuts!

  • j mattix

    That is totaly rediculous. A person sufering from any allergy needs to know enough to say " No Thanks" Let's ban peanut butter, peanut oil and ALL other peanut products in stores. Personal responsibility.

    • Common Sense

      Here's the problem with the personal responsibility comment:

      When it comes to peanut/tree nut allergies, simply touching a surface that has been contaminated can trigger a reaction. Some can be in the same room and have a reaction because it is in the air. These reactions aren't just watery eyes or sneezing. These reactions consist of your throat and tongue swelling up so that you can't breathe. When you are miles in the air, you can't just call 911 to seek medical attention. In a store or restaurant, you can avoid it by avoiding the store, restaurant, product, etc. In a confined space like an airplane, you can't avoid it. No one is asking peanuts to be banned everywhere. Let's use some common sense. Eat your peanuts when you are on the ground.

      Why is this even an issue? It isn't going to kill anyone to NOT have peanuts on a flight. It CAN kill someone to have peanuts on a flight. The airline is going to look at it's bottom line. Serving pretzels instead of peanuts is not going to open them up to lawsuits.

  • jadasgram

    I have a peanut allergy, however I am more allergic to many of the perfumes and colognes some bathe in. I have tree pollen allergies and animal dandruff allergies. Those are my problems to deal with, I do NOT expect others to take care of me. I do try to be aware of those I know have certain problems such as diabetesand do not indulge in sugar loaded items in their presence. I'm with Margaret on the Friday fish.

    • Terri

      If we have to ban the peanuts, let's ban cologne and perfume, dogs and cats in the cabin (all of which cause me respiratory distress without the Benadryl), anything with soy and eggs, because I have sensitivity to them as well. In case there's a recovering alcoholic on board, let's ban the sale of alcoholic beverages; severe caffeine sensitivity can cause aheart to go out of rhythm. Ban all caffeinated beverages. People with high blood pressure shouldn't have excess salt; kill the pretzels. 100 calorie snack have peanut and/or soy warnings; pitch them. So, everyone come on board with NO food. The airline should serve water purified by distillation, filtration and reverse osmosis in bisphenol-free sterilized glassware. Body lotion, perfume, cologne, including scented deodorants: banned, as well as any domestic animal. Ban angora sweaters (they drive my respiratory system crazy). Leave our shoes on the tarmac. Lord only knows what pollen, dirt, fecal material we might track in. We should also go through decontamination chambers. Then we can enjoy our 10 hour international flight in our sterile environment drinking our triple purified water knowing that no one has to take an allergy pill or carry an Epi.

  • Mark

    I thought you had to eat the peanut to have the allergic reaction. Never knew someone could have a reaction to me eating a bag of peanuts sitting next to them. This is another case where the minority of people get the majority of attention.

    Wow, on the surface this sounds very crazy.

  • edgewatermom

    I have flown a few times with my daughter and the airlines will serve pretzels instead of peanuts if you request it when making reservations. My daughter has a life threatening allergy to peanuts. Even touching something that has been contaminated could set it off. These kids have enough restrictions on them to say they should not be able to fly. I am sure you would not feel this way if your child was affected. I hope that never happens to you

  • Ryan

    Being allergic to peanuts myself, I'd like to ask this question: Is taking away peanuts from flights really asking a whole lot from the general public? Of course not!! – I mean its not like the airlines are taking away all food services, rather its just one single type of food that has the potential of killing me and many others with this uncureable condition. If this actually becomes a law it would be a dream come true on the 20+ flights I take per year!!

  • Anne Bierman

    This is exactly what NEEDS to be done. I have a three year old whom is very allergic to nuts. Until you witness your child having an allergic reaction and her throat swelling shut, you would not understand the severity of this type of allergy.

    • Johnson

      Well Anne , if You gave Your child a benadryl, (Diephenhydromine Hydrochloride) or had a Epi-Stik, or an Epi-Kit , You NEVER would have even gotten Near that point !!
      That appears to have been an episode of Aniphylactic Shock…or Aniphylaxis . Everyone should have one . Just a case of THINKING AHEAD for OH MY GOSH !!!!! other people.
      Poor Child !

  • rose

    I'm allergic to cotton,will everyone get on the plane naked. That's how stupid this is. If you have an allergy don't eat it ,don't touch it. Don't ban others

  • melissa

    I have flown a few times with my daughter and the airlines will serve pretzels instead of peanuts if you request it when making reservations. My daughter has a life threatening allergy to peanuts. Even touching something that has been contaminated could set it off. These kids have enough restrictions on them to say they should not be able to fly. I am sure you would not feel this way if your child was affected. I hope that never happens to you.

  • Melissa

    I have flown a few times with my daughter and the airlines will serve pretzels instead of peanuts if you request it when making reservations. My daughter has a life threatening allergy to peanuts. Even touching something that has been contaminated could set it off. These kids have enough restrictions on them to say they should not be able to fly. I am sure you would not feel this way if your child was affected. I hope that never happens to you, but most people do not realize a child can die from exposure!!! So, I am for having an alternative snack when a peanut restricted child is on board. And I find that MOST people are very understanding and sympathetic.

  • Margaret

    Another case of overreacting to compensate for the few. My comment: if you have allergies to peanuts, don't fly – period!!! I still resent having to eat fish every friday in the school lunch program just so a few catholics could comply with their beliefs. Exactly what is fair anyway??

    • IRRITATED DAD

      hEY ALL ABOUT MYSELF mARGARET. yOU'VE OBVIOUSLY NEVER HAD ACHILD WITH A LIFE THREATNEING ALLERGY. THIS ISN'T SOMETHING YOU CHOOSE TO HAVE. POOR YOU, YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO STUFF YOUR SELF CENTERED FACE WITH YOUR PRECIOUS BAG OF PEANUTS ALL THE WHILE THINKING ABOUT WHAT OTHER GROUP OF PEOPLE YOU CAN OFFEND. MY SON COULD DIE IF EXPOSED, SO THAT MEANS HE JUST NOT BE ABLE TO EVER TRAVEL TO ENSURE PEOPLE LIKE YOU CAN FULLFILL THEIR GLUTTENOUS WISHES. WE ARE VERY ACCOMADATING BUT IT PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO MAKE LIFE CHALLENGING FOR EVERYONE, ALLERGY OR NOT!

      • Craig

        Or… You could try actualy being a parent and monitoring you own child, and not crying that everyone else do your job for you. I to have a child with a severe nut allergy but you know what I do? I teach my children and monitor what food they eat… Wow what a crazy and amazing concept isn’t it? The problem today is that you are all to f-ing lazy to be real parents, what’s next? The baning of all pointy objects? My child is deadly allergic to getting stabbed through the eye with a pencil and I would really like to see them removed from all schools, my child has to attend public schools in fear every day for his life… Seriously people, gain some self responcibility

    • Anne

      R u joking me? really? overreacting?! I have a 3 yr old daughter whom is deathly allergic to peanuts and you are telling me to just not fly? Compensate for a few, huh?

    • Christine

      Are you kidding me? I already have to deal with this at my child's school. There is a peanut butter and anything with peanuts or products that might come across peaunuts ban and I know that other places are jumping on this. Do you know how hard it is to find things to pack for lunch? Most airlines don't even give you peaunuts now anyways. How are you going to control people that come on board with outside food? Fries or other food fried in peaunut oil, chocolate or candy with peanuts, granola with traces of peanuts, etc. If you have suffered from an allergy all of your life, doesn't that mean that you have learned to deal with it and cope accordingly? I just don't know how airlines will ban outside food now from coming into flights. I think that the front seats should be reserved for passengers with a special need. I think if the airlines went ahead with this, it would give the public more reasons to be upset. First was the charging for food, then charging for luggage and now banning peanuts!!!! As silly as it might sound, the peanut issue would would something else to be unhappy about.

  • Dana

    yippee!! That would be a relief! Now I don't have to worry as much while flying with my daughter who has a life threatening peanut allergy!!!
    BRAVO to the airlines!

    • Anne

      I couldn't agree more Dana! I too have a daughter with this allergy and the comments that are being left here are outraging to me.

  • Rob

    This is freakin' ridiculous!! That number represents one half of one percent of the population of the us!! So, 1 out of every 200 people are affected so, the other 199 should have to do without peanuts!! F-ing ridiculous!!