American Airlines is going out of its way to accommodate passengers with nut allergies.
The airline announced it will soon offer early boarding to those who have to stay clear of a Reese’s. They’ll get to skip ahead of general boarding, along with active members of the military, young families, and those who need special assistance.
The polite consideration is not because those with allergies are considered ill or deserve first dibs on overhead space; rather, it’s so that they can get to work scrubbing down their area.
“Customers with nut allergies who would like to board flights early to wipe down surfaces may ask to do so at the gate,” a rep confirmed to USA Today. “Though we do not serve peanuts in flight, we can’t guarantee our customers won’t be exposed to peanuts or other tree nuts during their trip. We strongly encourage those with allergies to take all necessary medical precautions before flying.”
The new policy goes into effect on December 12.
While such measures might sound overprotective, there have been recent incidents in which passengers suffered severe allergic reactions mid-flight. Just this week, an Australian mother publicly recounted how she believes nut residue on her seat or tray table led to a strong physical reaction. She said her children were “terrified” she would die, noting that “having a life-threatening airborne allergy is like boarding a plane and enduring the whole flight with a person holding a loaded gun to your head.”
According to the Food Allergy Research and Education organization, approximately 15 million Americans have food allergies, including nearly 6 million children under the age 18. Each year, 200,000 Americans require emergency medical care for some sort of food allergy. Airlines have increasingly restricted nuts on flights, replacing the once in-flight standard with pretzels, chips, or wafers.