A first look at a new American Airlines policy which would allow passengers with serious nut allergies to pre-board in order to ensure seats are free of any allergen contamination was posted on Twitter this week. The airline has confirmed the authenticity of the document, but says the new policy is only under consideration and no rule changes are planned at this time.
A copy of a new proposed American Airlines policy on how to deal with customers who suffer from serious nut allergies is making the rounds on social media. Although airline officials have confirmed that the leaked documents are authentic, American says that the proposed rule changes are currently under study and there are currently no changes planned to boarding procedures – at least for the time being.
A leaked copy of the so-called, “Enhanced Policy for Passengers with Nut Allergies,” was first posted to Twitter by travel blogger Jamie Larounis of Forward Cabin on Wednesday. The new guidelines for airline employees stop short of guaranteeing passengers that nuts will not be served and do not permit customer service agents to promise a “buffer zone” for flyers with severe allergies. The document does, however, allow for allergy-suffering passengers to pre-board in order to give those flyers a chance to scrub any traces of potential allergens from their seats.
“American recognizes that some customers are allergic to peanuts and other tree nuts,” the internal memo explains. “Although we do not serve peanuts, we do serve other nut products (such as warmed nuts) and there may be trace elements of unspecified nut ingredient, including peanut oils, in meals and snacks. Requests that we not serve any particular foods, including tree nuts, on our flights cannot be granted. We are not able to provide “nut buffer zones,” but we will allow customers to pre-board to wipe down seats and tray tables. Our planes are cleaned often but these cleanings are not designed to ensure the removal of nut allergens nor are our air filtration systems designed to remove nut allergens.”
In January of 2017, American Airlines was the subject of a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) complaint based on the carrier’s policies towards passengers with severe food allergies. The advocacy group, Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) claimed in a complaint that the airline’s policy “misleads passengers about their legal rights” and violates the Air Carrier Access Act protections for air travelers with disabilities.
For its part, the airline insists that the leaked memo was part of a study intended for employee feedback on possible rule modifications and does not indicate a change policy. However, an incident in which the airline refused to allow a passenger to pre-board in order to clean the area where her child with a serious peanut allergy would be sitting was specifically mentioned in the FARE complaint filed with the DOT last year.
“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 told The Points Guy’s Katherine Fan. “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.”