Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Peanuts on a Plane

 The Department of Transportation is considering a rule that would ban peanuts on planes to accommodate the estimated 1.8 million people who have peanut allergies. And there is quite an uproar. Peanut farmers are up in arms. Diabetics want to preserve their low carb snack. What would the airline do about fellow passengers who brought snacks containing nuts on board?

I think this is absurd. Flight crews have much more important things to worry about than patrolling passengers for what snacks they brought on board. And why stop at peanuts? What about the over 60,000 people with gluten allergies? Should gluten be banned too? What about the people who are sensitive to any perfume – should everyone have to go through a decontamination shower before going on board?

I don’t want to appear insensitive to people with allergies, because I know firsthand the struggles people with severe food allergies face. However, there are some common sense solutions to dealing with these problems and I have seen them firsthand.

Peanuts – I have seen passengers with peanut allergies handled in two different ways. One flight they substituted pretzels for peanuts (sorry Gluten-free folks). On other, the flight attendants did not serve peanuts in the 3 rows in front of and behind the passenger with the allergy. In both cases, the flight attendants had to deal with irate passengers that wanted – WERE ENTITLED TO – their peanuts.

Perfume allergy – In this case, the passenger was reseated in a less “perfume-y” zone. Thought I did find it suspicious that she was in a middle seat when she had the perfume attack and the only place she felt comfortable was an aisle seat in the extra leg room section. But, hey, maybe all that extra leg room helped dilute all those charged scent particles flying through the air.

I assume the airlines would be happy to eliminate the peanut line item from their budgets and not offer any snacks at all – just to be safe, of course. In the meantime, why do we need to regulate when I am sure most airlines do a pretty good job of accommodating this right now? This may be a clear case of how a well-organized vocal minority can get something passed because the rest of us don’t really care one way or another. That is until we are running to catch our connection, starving, and counting on that little bag of peanuts to avoid a food emergency. Then we’ll care. A LOT.

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