We recently took a family trip to Naples and flew on a new carrier- United Airlines. Typically, in the past, we have flown on Delta with our food allergic boys and have had no major problems. And I must add, we travel quite a bit via airlines, with our boys.
Two weeks prior to our departure date I called United customer service and notified them that one of my children had a “life-threatening” peanut and tree nut allergy. I asked them what their company policy was for food allergic passengers? The representative on the phone told me she would make a note of the allergy in her system and on our tickets. She also told me United would not distribute peanuts to passengers on the flights. She said the safety of their passengers was a high priority. I thought we were good to go, however part of me thought, and this is a bit pessimistic, that this was too good to be true!
Additionally, a few days before our departure I reached out to United via Twitter and their Facebook page asking them what the company policy was for peanut and tree nut allergic passengers? Here is the response I received via United Facebook:
“We prioritize safety for all of our passengers. While we do not offer buffer zones on our planes, please notify a flight attendant of your son’s allergies and they will be able to pass on that message to their aircraft. Please use this link for more information: http://bit.ly/1Sk5iQs. Feel free to reach out if you have additional questions.”
The day of our departure during check-in the United representative told me that she would notify the head flight attendant of our son’s nut allergies and to make sure to mention this again to the gate attendant. She stated that United takes food allergies very seriously. Upon arriving at the gate I also spoke very politely to the gate attendant about our son’s food allergies and reiterated to her what the check-in attendant had mentioned.
Then, when we lined up to board the aircraft, the gate attendant told my husband and I, “the crew wiped down everything in our aisle on the plane to take extra precautions.” That was music to our ears! Jason and I were thrilled United “went the extra mile.”
However, upon getting to our seats, we noticed several pistachio shells on the floor in the aisle surrounding our seats and in front of each of our seats throughout the entire row. My boys were TERRIFIED! I remained calm and grabbed my bag of antibacterial wipes, re-wiped down everything again and picked up the pistachio shells and handed them to the flight attendant. I explained our concern to her and she said, “I would be nervous too if I had a serious nut allergy.”
After calming our boys down and assuring them they would be safe (I kept my cool of course). We were able to get ready for takeoff. My husband and I reiterated to our 6 & 8 year old boys not to touch their shoes, do not put your fingers in your mouth or close to your mouth, and everything will be okay.
Thankfully we survived the flight without any accidental exposures to the nut residues! No Benadryl or Epi-Pens were needed! THANK GOD!
United, on a scale of 1 to 10 I would give you a 5. The process seems to be there but the implementation of the food allergy process is poor, based on our recent experience. There is lots of room for improvement.
Thankfully, we didn’t experience any additional concerns on the other 3 United flights during our entire travel process. United- we will fly your carrier again. In the future, hopefully you will improve your processes for peanut and tree nut allergic passengers which will improve their safety during the flight.