Canadian airline WestJet, which gained a reputation in the food allergy community for a highly accommodating peanut and tree nut allergy policy, is now introducing almonds snacks in its premium economy section. The rollout is expected to happen over the next few months of 2018.
WestJet says on its website that the change for the “Plus” section follows passenger requests for “healthier, portable, and protein-rich options like almonds.” The “Plus” section refers to the first three rows of the aircraft.
Several food allergy travelers have expressed disappointment with the airline’s policy change and an online petition has been started asking the airline to “prioritize safety over snacks,” and urging WestJet to reconsider the policy change.
WestJet was one of the first airlines to make significant allergy accommodations, including not serving peanuts or tree nuts, offering to make, when requested, a P.A. announcement asking others not to open nut products, and providing a buffer zone for peanut and nut allergies if requested.
With the premium section nut change, passengers traveling with allergies were left unclear about whether other measures were affected.
Allergic Living is able to confirm, through WestJet’s media relations manager Lauren Stewart, the specific accommodations the airline continues to provide:
- With advance notification, Stewart says flight crew will still “make a P.A. announcement for anyone who self-identifies as being allergic to peanut or nuts and requests the announcement.” When this is the case, the crew then will not serve nuts among the premium section snacks.
- The airline will allow allergic travelers to pre-board an aircraft to wipe down their seating area.
- The crew will continue to provide a buffer zone, which means airline staff can ask those seated around the traveler with allergies to refrain from eating any nut-containing products.
- Guests who inform the flight crew of a food allergy will be asked if they have an epinephrine auto-injector with them and where it is, or if they’re carrying other allergy medication.
Stewart notes that the almonds are not available aircraft-wide, only in the “Plus” section and they are among six snack choices offered.
Allergic Living recommends that travelers always carry at least two epinephrine auto-injectors, in addition to bringing your own safe food for a flight.
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