I can’t remember the last time I was offered a bag of peanuts on a major commercial carrier, but apparently, that just shows that I don’t fly Southwest Airlines or Delta very often.
The two domestic airlines, which continue to ladle out legumes, are at the center of a peanut controversy of sorts. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), one of the biggest complaints they receive from airline passengers is about peanuts on planes. In a new report just released by the DOT, the No. 1 suggestion from travelers on ways to enhance airline passenger protections is to ban peanuts from all commercial airlines. The majority of complaints were lodged by flyers who are allergic to peanuts or who have family members who are allergic to the popular nuts.
For the record, AirTran, Alaska/Horizon, American, Continental, JetBlue and United do not serve peanuts on their flights. However, the aforementioned carriers are quick to add that they often post notices saying they can’t promise that some items served on board won’t contain nut products or that other passengers won’t bring their own nut products on board. Also, Southwest says while it can’t guarantee a nut-free airplane, it will suspend peanut service on an entire flight if a passenger with an allergy requests it.
According to DOT officials, they don’t technically have the authority to change in-flight peanut policies. However, they are trying to gauge public opinion, so they can work with individual airlines. The DOT attempted a similar plan in 1988, when it advised airlines to make reasonable accommodations for passengers with severe peanut allergies. Most airlines voluntarily complied, but no formal rules have been put in place.
Currently, the DOT is recommending three alternatives to accommodate airline passengers with peanut allergies:
1. Ban the serving of peanuts and all peanut products on all flights
2. Ban the serving of peanuts and all peanut products on all flights where a passenger with a peanut allergy requests it in advance, or;
3. Require airlines to establish a peanut-free buffer zone for passengers with severe peanut allergies.
Where do you stand on the all out peanut ban?