April 22, 2010

In-flight nut allergy policy changes now in effect

At risk of offending squirrels worldwide, we recently made changes to our in-flight nut allergy policy to create a buffer zone around Customers who let us know that they have a nut allergy.

In our new policy, which has been in effect since February, Inflight Crewmembers now create a buffer zone one row behind and one row in front of the nut-allergic person. The Crew briefs Customers in those rows, without identifying the person with an allergy, and informs them that nut-based products will not be served to their rows.

Image courtesy of steffenz on Flickr

Image courtesy of steffenz on Flickr

There are no federal requirements for how airlines should deal with travelers with nut allergies. However, we’re basing our new guidelines on a proposed federal policy released a few years ago that would have mandated airlines to create peanut-free buffer zones like ours. Although this did not become law, the proposal offers us excellent guidelines to follow and most other carriers have adopted these standards.

Our goal in modifying our policy was to make reasonable and sufficient accommodations for Customers with severe nut allergies, while providing a consistent experience to the majority of Customers on all flights. A comprehensive comparison of airline nut polices and recommendations from government agencies led us to this new policy that will improve the overall Customer experience while also providing sufficient prevention of nut allergy-related medical emergencies during flight.

Posted by in Crewmembers, Customers | Permalink | 17 Comments | Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter

17 Comments on “In-flight nut allergy policy changes now in effect”

  • Posted by Meg Smith on April 22, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I still fear flying with my grandaughter who has a severe nut allergy..I am in favor of banning all nuts from airports or at least airplanes ..Everyone as a right to a safe enviornment..We now have smoke free,,how about Nut Free..I find that there is always some passengers who have to have their cashews regardless of the announcement and do not care if a 4 year old goes into Anaphalactic shock..Can’t they make a little sacrifice for a sort ime while on a plane..We took a Jet Blue flight from lorida only to find nuts in the stretchy bag in the front seat and on the floor..We always call ahead of time and tell before we board and pre board with wipeits to clean up after these sloppy people..and still get comments…it would be simpler to eliminate the nuts altogether..Nut and peanut dust is airborne in a plane so the same contaminated air is constantly recycled so a buffer zone is not the answer..peanut and nuuts oils can stay on the surface for days..Why keep the peanut industry over a life..

  • Posted by Steve Atrinan on May 6, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    While I do not expect everyone to bear a hardship, or lose their rights due to the needs of myself or another nut allergy sufferer, I do not understand the “right” or “need” of a passenger to have a nut based product inflight. With the plethora of other snack choices available, would anyone truly mind not being offered a package of nuts? Their life would be inexorably altered by being offered pretzels, chips (if you are concerned for the celiac afflicted), raisins, popcorn, fruit cups, etc etc etc?

  • Posted by Andrew Zwerin on July 7, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Meg, I couldn’t agree more. Our six year old son has severe peanut/tree nut allergies among many others and has gone into Anaphalactic shock in the past (fortunately not in-flight). My family has been flying jetBlue exclusively for several years because in the past they have been willing to make a courtesy announcement informing passengers that there is a passenger on board with nut allergies and requesting that they refrain from eating nuts in flight. In addition they informed people that they would not be serving nuts in flight.

    However, just last week we ran into this new policy when flying from JFK to West Palm Beach, FL and back. When we informed gate staff of our situation and requested a courtesy announcement we were told of the new policy and that they would not do so. When we pressed harder, we were taken aside by an employee that was not working our flight and were told that he knew the pilot and that if we made to much of a fuss about it that the pilot would bar us from the flight. They did inform the passengers on the row in front and in back of us about the fact that there was a passenger with severe nut allergies. When they got to the row behind us, the family told them that their child was allergic as well and they went back an additional row.

    We also asked to be allowed to pre-board ahead of the other passengers so that we could carefully clean the seats we were told that we would pre-board with the rest of the passengers. On our trip back the flight attendant berated us for not moving out of the isle fast enough even though we had clearly explained the need to clean the seat thoroughly. I did not see them create the buffer zone on our flight back to JFK.

    Its not clear to us that this was the intention of jetBlue’s new policy. I’d like to believe that they didn’t think it through clearly and that it isn’t being implemented by their staff in a way that is consistent with their intentions. We are writing a letter and will have to consider canceling our already booked flights to CA in September based on their response.

    Most people understand the life and death issue once it is explained are more then willing to go without nuts for the duration of the flight.

  • Posted by Matt Stanton on July 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    In a closed-air circulation system, a buffer zone doesn’t mean anything when you have 75 people snacking on cashews.

    Please, Jet Blue, get real.

    ~ a consistently annoyed, long-time, nut-allergic jet blue customer.

  • Posted by Lisa Sullivan on July 24, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Recently, I flew from Boston to LA and back. Before each flight, I passed out “Buisness cards” that I had printed beforehand. They asked passengers politely to refrain from eating nuts on board and explained my severe airborne allergy. I passed them out with a smile and a “thank you”. Every passenger was compliant. Many even thanked me for letting them know. And, when Jet Blue flight crew served meals containing almonds in my row, one passenger asked me if he should save them for after the flight. I feel that this replaces the announcement Jet Blue used to make to the entire aircraft, before the policy change. I also call in advance to let the flight crew know about my allegy, check in early and let them know again, tell them as I get on board, and carry a doctor’s note, epipen, and Benadryl. I clean my seat and my companion’s seat and airvents with lysol wipes also. I do sincerely hope Jet Blue discontinues its cashew service soon. Those can cause a severe reaction, especially when the whole plane is served. I will still fly Jet Blue, since they at least do not serve peanuts, as some other airlines still do, and hope that all passengers will be as respectful as the ones on these flights were.
    Lisa Sullivan
    “Airplanes Should Be Nut free” group on Facebook

  • Posted by Lola on September 3, 2010 at 3:37 am

    Shame on you jetBlue!!!
    Since when is customers “cravings” for nuts more important than the health and safety of a nut-allergic passenger!
    jetBlue was the only airline that seemed to understand the seriousness of flying with an airborne allergy.
    One row buffer zones…thanks but no thanks!!!

  • Posted by Haley on September 3, 2010 at 4:04 am

    How disrespectful!!!! “At risk of offending squirrels worldwide????!!!!” This is NOT A JOKE!!!!!!!
    Can’t people withhold their need to munch on nuts during a flight???? Having a “buffer zone” will NOT help the allergies of people with AIRBORNE NUT ALLERGIES!!!!
    Do these people know what AIRBORNE means?? It means that if the person is in the same vicinity as a nut, they will have an ANAPHYLACTIC REACTION!!!! Especially in a plane that has the SAME AIR circulating through the CLOSED COMPARTMENT (the plane).
    A BUFFER ZONE WILL NOT HELP!!!!!!!!!! Just because the people behind and in front of the nut-allergic person isn’t eating nuts,THE AIR contains particles of nut powder that can STILL cause the person to have an anaphylactic reaction!!!! I don’t understand the logic here; Jet Blue needs to put their customers LIVES in front of other customers needs for nuts. Nut allergies are considered DISABILILTIES– Jet Blue needs to FULLY ACCOMMODATE passengers with SEVERE AND LIFE THREATENING NUT ALLERGIES. Come on, Jet Blue…get a clue.

  • Posted by Megan on September 18, 2010 at 2:02 am

    Perhaps if was explained to people how much diverting a flight due to the anaphylactic shock/ possible death of a passenger would inconvenience *them*, they would be more willing to go without nuts for a few hours.

  • Posted by M. Verri on March 23, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    no kidding…that’s my worst nightmare. Traveling with my 2 toddlers, who BOTH have severe tree nut, peanut & sesame allergies, who pay for a seat… As much preparation as I do on the plane before they sit down, I still think I haven’t done enough. When an announcement was made (to refrain from nuts) on our trip to Florida last year I could hear an elderly couple making comments about not being able to have their nuts. Sadly, people still don’t understand the severity of it. What will it take!? hmmm…

    I am highly allergic to dogs and yet I sometimes see them in cute, little bags at my feet in the seat in front of me on a plane – UGH! I’d rather save my kid’s lives (and any others) by going nut free in the sky…I will deal with my throat closing and hives until I reach my destination.

  • Posted by Ani on June 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    buffer zones are not enough. Please make it peanut free. I beg you from the mother of a 6 year old that can die from exosure to peanuts/ tree nuts. Is it really worth it to jeapardize the lfe of a child for a snack?
    PLEASE TAKE ACTION. Don’t people with allergies have rights too?

  • Posted by disappointed on April 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    DISGUSTING!!! My 2 year old has an airborn nut allergy, and the flight attendant told me ” you have an epipen, if you need to use it you will!” Are these ignorant people aware that epipen is only for a while till they get to the hospital????I want to start a petition to sue these airlines for putting these children in life threatening situations so that other people aren’t “inconvenienced”. This makes me so angry!!!!

  • Posted by JetBlue on April 20, 2012 at 9:29 am

    We’re so sorry for your unfortunate experience. We certainly understand the exigency of such a situation and generally encourage those with allergies to alert us and do our best to accommodate, keeping the well-being of our customers in highest priority. I’ve passed your note along to our customer support team, who will be reaching out to you as well.

  • Posted by Meg on May 29, 2012 at 11:31 am

    With the growing number of severe treenut allergy cases in young children/infants (including my 6-month old), which airline is going to pony up and ban nuts? Nice title by the way. Should have run that one by your crisis PR team. It’s disgusting to see a company try and make heroes out of themselves with a blog post that basically announces their plans to continue putting lives at risk – headlining with a tacky joke? I guess it will take a baby dying mid flight for you guys to wake up. It’s only a matter of time. Good luck with that one and God bless your executives when they are faced with the parents of that child.

  • Posted by Sandy on July 12, 2012 at 8:37 am

    I recently flew on Jetblue and although I was happy that we were able to pre-board in order to wipe down his area, I was bummed out that there were still so many tree-nut snacks being served. The crew was excellent with my son & did create a “zone” around him – even moving a jerk up to the front that was complaining that they were HIS peanuts that HE bought and He would eat them if He wanted. It just seems like it would be easier to not serve the snacks with nuts in them. I know we would still have people who brought on their own food, BUT it wouldn’t be hundreds of people eating nuts around him. Please JetBlue – think about it?!?

  • Posted by Michelle Navarrete on August 2, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    I and my child have a severe latex allergy (diapers, most brands, and balloons are the worst) as well as allergies to tree nuts, bananas and other foods. While flying a different airline recently they allowed me to preboard and wipe down my seats and tray table etc… I did inform flight crew about allergies my epi pen and its location and they were wonderful. I am a little more worried about jet blue right now, it does not look like we will be able to preboard and that makes me nervous as it takes me time to clean our area. I can see other passengers getting very upset if I and my kids are blocking the aisle while I am cleaning.

  • Posted by Ben B on August 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Is it that important to serve nuts on the flights! I don’t understand Its just bad business sense.

  • Posted by L Donaldson on November 12, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I am an RN who has witnessed ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK & ANAPHYLACTIC REACTIONS first hand. DEAD IS DEAD Jet BLue… I to have a severely allergic nut allergy child .You ar e losing business due to this stupid snack/ nut situation. People can live without nuts. Planes are on smoking, smoke can kill you to !!! Please stop serving nut and nut products. Remember that if one customer has a bad experience they tell 5 people who also tell 5 people,tell 5 people who also tell 5 people….

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