Taking Flight … With Peanut Allergies
Having food allergies — especially peanut allergies — can make seemingly simple activities quite complicated. Unlike many other allergens, peanut allergies can be triggered through airborne irritation, which can become a problem when you’re in a tight space. I’ve been on airplanes many times where the person sitting next to me eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Arguably, I should have asked them to refrain from eating something that could make me ill, but it’s difficult and, frankly, uncomfortable to ask someone to not enjoy their snack. But, now that my allergies are super sensitive, I decided to make my airline aware of my needs and accept special accommodations. On a recent trip to New York, I flew on JetBlue. I typically fly Southwest Airlines — ironic I know since they are known for their free peanuts and pretzels. When booking my ticket on JetBlue’s website, there is a “special request” drop-down menu that has “nut allergy” listed as an option. I had never seen this before when booking on any other airline.
Upon arriving at the airport, I went to the service counter to check my bag. As soon as the representative looked at my reservation, she said: “You have a nut allergy I see. Thank you so much for letting us know. Be sure to talk to the representative at your gate so that you can receive priority boarding.” To be honest, I was surprised by how accommodating they appeared to be. As soon as I located my gate, I went up to the desk. They responded the same way — there would be no problem accommodating me.
When I boarded (I was actually the very first passenger on the plane so that I could sterilize my seat and tray table), I spoke with the flight attendant. Before taking off, she made the following announcement to my row and the row directly in front of and behind me: “We have a nut allergy in your area. Please refrain from eating anything with nuts during the duration of the flight.” I expected to hear moans and groans, but there was nothing! Everyone was completely on board.
On my return flight, the experience was identical.
JetBlue definitely took care of me ... and my peanut allergy.