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Leaked: American Airlines May Offer Pre-Boarding to Anyone With Nut Allergies

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.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

Comments are Closed.
jarofny September 11, 2018

I have a son with a severe peanut allergy and I have to say that this policy would not make me more comfortable flying AA. With both United and Delta we have had great experiences. They will quickly establish a "nut-free" zone a few rows ahead and behind where my child is sitting. Wiping down a tray table takes no time and we bring a blanket to cover the seat so the preboard really doesn't do anything. I am a lifetime Platinum member with AA but have not flown them for years due to their nut policy. In response to a letter I wrote, AA said they could not create nut-free zones for "operational reasons." I then asked them why Delta and United were able to do it without it affecting their operations - no reply. The proposed AA policy has a lot of potential for abuse (as other posters have noted). But their is no incentive to abuse the Delta or United policy. I have never seen a passenger get upset about accommodating a nut allergy. They understand that it is a disability beyond an individuals control.

EPtraveler September 11, 2018

You've got to be kidding me? Now I've heard everything!

eng3 September 10, 2018

1. Why arent the seats and tray tables clean BEFORE anyone boards? Isn't that what cleaners are for? 2. Why does one need to preboard in order to wipe a seat/tray table? Does it really take so long? How many people on a typical flight have this issue? is it more than the number of people who decide to they need to open their suitcase and rearrange the contents while blocking the row? 5. If someone is really that sensitive, how effective is wiping down? does that really remove all traces? doesn't it just redistribute the nut particles/oils? If one is that sensitive, they should really wear gloves and long sleeves or something. You can't guarantee you won't touch ANY nut particles/oils when you are in public, not sure why a plane is an exception. 4. How will the airline determine if one really has an allergy?

scnzzz September 10, 2018

I think the EpiPen check idea is the only rational way to implement this. Want pre-boarding? One Epi-Pen to be presented for every adult, or adult accompanying a minor, that requests pre-boarding on this basis. If you have an allergy severe enough that warrants the extra time, you sure as heck ought to have your Epi-Pen handy, or you don't fly. Filters out the fake doctor's notes, and well, if you want to go buy an Epi-Pen to board early, well, that's beyond help. But I think this will come to nothing.

SarcasticMisanthrope September 9, 2018

Oy vey with all this peanut allergy mishegoss. Wear a plastic bubble suit.