According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, peanut and tree nut allergies are the leading cause of fatal and near-fatal food allergy reactions in the U.S. That’s a statistic that strikes fear into the hearts of parents of children who suffer from the condition. And because peanuts are as ubiquitous on airplanes as they are in ballparks, many parents are understandably hesitant to board a flight with an allergic child.
The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination by U.S. and foreign air carriers against those with disabilities. And according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), a person who suffers from severe peanut allergies would fall under that protected category. As such, the DOT is soliciting opinions on how best to deal with the issue of peanuts on airplanes.
Through Cornell University’s Regulation Room, the general population is invited to weigh in on the subject and choose between three proposed solutions or offer a better one:
- An outright ban on airlines serving peanuts and peanut products
- Banning service of peanuts and peanut products only on a flight where a passenger with a peanut allergy requests a peanut-free flight in advance
- Requiring the airline to provide a peanut-free buffer zone around a passenger with a medically-documented severe peanut allergy if the passenger makes a request in advance
Browse through the comments and you will find that peanut allergy debate is a lively one. While a few are of the opinion that such allergies don’t even exist, others wonder why perfume, pets and other allergens aren’t aren’t being addressed as well.
Despite all the press peanut allergies have gotten of late, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says that it’s a problem that affects only about 0.6% of the general population. That may not sound like a lot, but because the reactions can be so severe – 80% of people with a peanut allergy have had a reaction that resulted in a breathing problem – it’s an issue that should be taken seriously.
I don’t suffer from a peanut allergy and don’t even know anyone who does. And I really like peanuts. But because the lack of them won’t diminish anyone’s quality of life, I see no reason not to keep them off airplanes. What do you think?
More from this author: