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American Airlines

American Airlines Gives Priority Boarding to Nut Allergy Sufferers

American Airlines Gives Priority Boarding to Nut Allergy Sufferers
Jeff Edwards

American Airlines officials have confirmed that in response to an official complaint from an allergy awareness advocacy group, passengers with certain allergies will soon be permitted to pre-board flights in order to wipe down their seats and nearby surfaces to reduce the likelihood of coming into contact with potentially dangerous allergens.

In September, a leaked document hinted that American Airlines would soon allow passengers with severe food allergies to pre-board flights to allow those flyers an opportunity to wipe down surfaces in the cabin that might have come in contact with trace amount of nuts or other allergens. Faced with an immediate backlash to the controversial policy from less empathetic members of the flying public, the airline emphatically denied that new boarding rules were imminent.

“A proposed draft policy, which would permit customers with nut allergies to pre-board flights to wipe down surfaces, was shared prematurely with American’s flight attendant workgroup earlier this week,” an American Airlines spokesperson said at the time. “There are no changes to our policy at this time and the draft policy was not shared with customers. As is always the case, before we make policy decisions, we consult with various workgroups throughout the company. That process is still ongoing.”

Now, however, NBC News reports that the new boarding rules will go into effect next month as soon as updated manuals are distributed to employees. The new procedures are expected to be in place by December 12 of this year.

“Customers with nut allergies who would like to board flights early to wipe down surfaces may ask to do so at the gate,” an American Airlines spokesperson told NBC’s Today Show.  “Though we do not serve peanuts in flight, we can’t guarantee our customers won’t be exposed to peanuts or other tree nuts during their trip.”

The policy mirrors boarding rules for passengers with serious allergies which are already in place at Delta Air Lines. American has also reportedly already informed the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) of the intended policy change.

In January of last year, American was the subject of a DOT complaint based on the carrier’s existing policies towards passengers with severe allergies. The allergy awareness advocacy group, Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) claimed in the official complaint that the carrier’s policy “misleads passengers about their legal rights” and is in fact a violation of the Air Carrier Access Act protections for air travelers with disabilities.


Image: pxhere

View Comments (9)


  1. Global321

    November 10, 2018 at 3:48 am

    Have a nut allergy? Pre-board
    Slow walker? Pre-board
    Elite flyer/First class? Pre-board
    Have an ESA? Pre-board
    Have a REAL support animal? Pre-board
    Small kids? Pre-board
    Airline employee? Pre-board
    Air marshal? Pre-board
    Military? Pre-board
    Medical condition? Pre-board
    Wheelchair? Pre-board
    Need ‘extra time’? Pre-board

    Not judging, but at some point doesn’t the vast majority/all of the plane pre-board? Isn’t that just boarding?

  2. lloydah

    November 10, 2018 at 7:14 am

    So does this mean that the number of nut allergy sufferers will increase with pre boarding? Unless you need some sort of verification I can foresee 150 on average per flight.

  3. southpac

    November 10, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    what a joke. I now have a nut allergy.

  4. Marilu

    November 10, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    I was bummed that I’ll no longer get pre-boarding as my toddler gets older; now I feel a nut allergy coming on…

  5. jmaxo

    November 11, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    There is a clear lack of empathy in these comments and it is a shame.

    This tiny advancement in the line will allow someone who is suffering from a lifelong, life-threatening allergy, to actually clean off their seat of any particle risk. This will also help alleviate their anxiety from being locked in a metal tube with 100+ people that are almost certainly ignorant of the subject matter.

    For the ~2% of the population that has this allergy, how many do you think fly regularly? A typical flight of ~200 people would probably not even have one. With that being said, not everyone with a nut allergy will care to rush and board in advance, since people will clearly shame them based on the disheartening comments above.

  6. concol

    November 12, 2018 at 8:51 am

    So I am confused — if the passenger is expected to wipe down their seats/tables who is providing the supplies needed for this? Does this cleaning procedure also not increase the risk of coming in contact with a surface that may be harmful to someone who has an allergy.

  7. Bradhattan

    November 12, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    What if Im EXP, have the credit card AND a peanut allergy? Do I get to board before non-status peanut allergy folks?

  8. ml1

    November 14, 2018 at 5:37 am

    How will this really help? Are the people who preboard going to be wearing hazmat suits? As soon as they wipe down their seat, someone could walk buy munching on a bag of peanuts.

  9. laperk1028

    November 14, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    This is ridiculous – unless you make it totally illegal (and do a search) for every human or support animal who could have a peanut on him/her/it. How does boarding first eliminate the possibility of peanut contamination?

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