The national food allergy advocacy organization FARE wrote to American Airlines on Sept. 10 urging the company to review its policy of not allowing allergic travelers to pre-board to wipe down seating areas as a precaution against allergen exposures.
The letter comes after a draft of a proposed AA policy leaked and was posted to Twitter on Sept. 5. The draft, titled “Enhanced Policy for Customers with Nut Allergies,” was worded to allow customers with peanut or nut allergies to pre-board flights to wipe down surfaces. The proposed policy said the airline “is not able to provide ‘nut buffer zones,’ but we will allow customers to pre-board to wipe down seats and tray tables.”
Despite the leaked information, Michelle Mohr, AA’s managing director of corporate communications, told Allergic Living there are “no changes” to the company’s policy at this time and the document was simply shared with a flight attendants work group for consideration. “This was just a proposed draft that was in discussion,” says Mohr. “I can’t say we have made a decision one way or another.”
FARE’s letter nonetheless says it is “encouraged by recent media reports that American Airlines is considering revising its policy.” It urges the airline not be allergy-specific in any updated policy. Reminding AA of its February 2017 complaint to the Department of Transport, FARE CEO Lisa Gable writes that denying pre-boarding to those with food allergies violates the Air Carrier Access Act, since it discriminates on the basis of disability.
Any policy revision “must permit pre-boarding for any individual with a food allergy who needs to pre-board to secure their seating area regardless of whether the allergy is to nuts, dairy, or some other allergen,” Gable wrote.
However, the status of any AA food allergy policy update remains unclear. Mohr stressed to Allergic Living: “This was just a very, very proposed draft and it accidentally got released.”
FARE’s 2017 complaint and two other food allergy complaints filed by individuals are still pending before the DOT. FARE also calls for consistent application of any new policy and that it include food allergy training for crews and other staff.
To read FARE’s full letter, click here.