Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Northwest Airlines/AFAA Meeting Update Re: Peanuts on Airplanes

I received the following e-mail regarding the AFAA meeting with Northwest Airlines regarding their decision to reinstate peanuts as the in-flight snack.

Please note that they are still taking survey responses until March 15th. Use the link within this post--if you continue to have link problems, let me know. Hopefully you won't! :)

Peanuts on Airplanes Survey garners 500 responses in 3 days!

The survey, which is still open, also elicited nearly 250 comments that were printed and given to Northwest/Delta Airlines and U.S. Congressional Members, and will be given to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the U.S. Department of Transportation.AFAA plans to share the survey results with national food allergy organizations and medical associations, and with AFAA readers.

The article Peanuts on Airplanes can be seen in AFAA's January/February Food Allergy E-magazine. The issue also has links to other food allergy articles.

Peanut-Snacks on Airplanes - An Update from the Anaphylaxis & Food Allergy Association of MN (AFAA)
Negotiations Begin with NWA/DeltaAn AFAA delegation - consisting of medical director Dr. Allan Stillerman, AFAA Executive Director Nona Narvaez, retired Star Tribune Travel Editor Catherine Watson, and Minnesota State Senator Jim Carlson - met with the Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Northwest/Delta Airlines on Friday, March 6th. Also attending the meeting was an aide from U.S. Representative Oberstar's office.The delegation presented medical information about food allergies; letters, comments, and e-mails from over 270 people; preliminary results of the Peanuts on Airplanes survey; and an extensive list of policy recommendations for the airline to adopt."

AFAA's goal is to create safer flying conditions for food allergic passengers, and there are a number of improvements that can be adopted by airlines," said Dr. Stillerman, "including - but not limited to - reduction of the presence of peanut allergens on the aircraft." Some of the provisions advocated by AFAA received favorable reception at the meeting, but all provisions are being evaluated internally by the airline before they officially respond."This is the first step in negotiations with the airline," explained Ms. Narvaez. " We will meet again with the airlines to discuss progress on our policy goals."

In the meantime AFAA representatives will continue working with Senator Klobuchar's and Representative Oberstar's staff on this issue, and will keep Minnesota Legislators apprised of developments.Interested individuals and families are encouraged to take the Peanuts on Airplanes survey, which is open through March 16th, when final results will be tallied. Final results will be shared with policymakers, the airline, the media, and other organizations.

More than 600 people have taken the Peanuts on Airplanes survey. Their comments and the preliminary results of the survey were shared with Northwest/Delta Airlines, with U.S. Congressional Members, and with the Minnesota Legislature. Final results of the survey will be distributed after the survey closes.

Your opinion Matters!AFAA is encouraging all food allergic individuals and family members to participate in a survey and forward it to others affected by food allergens on airflights. The survey results will be helpful information to relay to the airlines in AFAA's efforts to influence them to accommodate passengers with food allergies.AFAA is also continuing to collect e-mails and letters to deliver directly to the airline and to the U.S. Department of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

You are encouraged to submit your opinions and share your experiences on the survey page or at airplanes@minnesotafoodallergy.org. Or click http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e2h2368hfrsnb0e0/start

The survey will be open until midnight, March 15th.


Tiffani Hill-Patterson said...

You know, I never thought about this issue until now. We're not allergic here, but I would hate for someone to have a reaction on the plane. It would be scary for everyone.

I think most passengers can live without nuts on the plane.

Elaine at Matters of the Heart) said...

Thanks for keeping us updated.

Anonymous said...

I thought of you when they started passing out the peanuts on my flights to and from Florida. I politely said, "No thank You."

Jenny said...

Wendy--and you didn't even have to decline. That was extremely thoughtful. I wish every passenger was like you!

Thanks for the support, everybody.

Anonymous said...

While I have every sympathy for people who suffer from a nut allergy I absolutely fail to see why airlines should not give them out as a snack? Someone who is aware of the allergy can surely make alternative arrangements.

It does seem the society has become skewed around the rights of the individual, hence groups demanding preferential treatment left, right and centre, but I heartily believe the rights of the many outweigh the rights of the one.

Jenny said...

Welcome Anonymous! Well, actually it's not the rights of one we're talking about--it's 3 million people who suffer from a peanut allergy--and that's just in the U.S.

While you may feel it's your "right" to eat peanuts on an airplane, could you get along without them? Is eating peanuts a "right" that you will fight to hold onto, even if it endangers someone else through no fault of their own?

I guess you're individual right to consume peanuts is very important to you. Personally, there is no food on earth so important to me that I can't forgo it during a 3-4 hour plane trip. Unfortunately, we can't legislate empathy or compassion.

Jenny said...

I just need to clarify a point here and I didn't want to do it in a separate post. An anonymous commentator implied that the issue is not safety, but an unwillingness on the part of people with food allergies to avail ourselves of alternative snacks. Really???? Come on--that's what you think is at the heart of this debate?

Those of us asking for peanuts/nuts to be omitted as snacks on an airplane are not asking this because we are either unwilling or unable to provide alternative snacks for ourselves or our children. We can do that with one hand tied behind our backs at this point.

Rather, we are asking for this due to the medical reality that a concentration of peanut/nut dust in a pressurized cabin can be hazardous to our health. Remember smoking on airplanes? Some of you might not. That's because the policy was actually CHANGED--despite much bloviating about "it's my right to smoke and blacken my lungs as much as I want."

True--but then when you do so, you may harm me.

The argument is similar here. I heard an author the other day say that humans are unique in their perception of their inability to adapt.

In other words--if you think you can't survive without nuts or peanuts for a few hours, it's probably more likely that you can.

That's all folks!

Barbara said...

HI there,

I just read about your blog. I am 35 years old and allergic to peanuts. It started when I was little where I'd eat peanuts and throw up but over the years my allergies have shifted, some disappeared, a few new ones evolved but the peanut allergy got worse. I now turn purple, throw up, cannot breathe and have to go to a hospital asap because only intrvenous drugs will help at this point. I'd like to point out to anonymous that I have reactions not only when I eat peanuts but pure exposure will crete a reaction. One you will smile abotu is a few years ago my husband went to a pub with collegues, came home, we ate, drank and then he kissed me on my shoulder. Almost immediately I looked like Quasimodo. I turned out by then about 5-6 hours earlier in the pub he ate some raisins mixed with a few peanuts...the trace amount that was left in his mouth caused a reaction!! I HATE to ask in restaurants, I HATE to tell airlines to take peanuts off the flight...I HATE to be a pain for other people, but unfortunately that's what I have to do. I have flown a lot over the last few years and there seem to be less and less peanuts on Amercian Airlines, surprisingly, the European Airlines I have found are more ignorant and of course no one can stop people form bringin their own. The problem is it's an enclosed space and I just canot sit next to someone eating peanuts...I know it is difficult to understand for someone without allergies. Even my husband when we met did not believe me, and only after parties where I said there's peanuts somewhere, my eyes itch and I can smell it, and there really where some hidden in a corner, he started believing me, nowadays he is the one telling ignorant waitresses, that I will turn purple if they don't listen...it's embarrassing but it works ;-)

Priscilla said...

I saw the comment of anonymous about how it is not wrong to ask that nuts not be served in airlines.
My response to her is that :-
May you soon get a child/grand child who is deadly allergic to smell/touch of airlines and he needs to travel to come see you. Even better, if you come down with such an allergy and feel how it is to not being able to breathe:-(

Also. can I tell you that you are thinking that your right to eat nuts in the airplane is bigger than someone's right to live ?

Shadow Warrior said...

I guess I am late on this posting but being an allergic person, I have had some nightmare flights. I get comments like "Don't you cary an Epi-Pen" or " How about a buffer zone?" If anyone has ever read the Epi-Pen package, it says to get the person to a hospital immediately after administering the dose. The buffer zone does nothing for the air I am breathing! It is not so hard to serve something else. Would other passengers even notice if airlines just served pretzels and said nothing about there being a swap? Likely not. But as soon as the embarrassing announcement, 'the allergic person says no one can have nuts', goes over the loud speaker, passengers get mad about not having their sack of nuts!
It's not a power trip or anything.

Anonymous: I really enjoy BREATHING as much or more as you like your salty peanut snacks!

Karen said...

Here are the results from the survay, this suvay is now closed