People with allergies are legitimately outraged this week by the decision of Northwest Airlines to re-introduce peanuts to its flights despite the large number of kids and adults with severe allergies to the snack.
I have written repeatedly about my astonishment that any major airline would continue to serve peanuts when there are other snacks available that do not pose such a danger to passengers. For some passengers, even contact with the oil left on seats can be life-threatening.
Yet, four months after Northwest merged with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, executives decided that the health of such passengers is less important than the marginal benefits of serving the cheap snack.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 3 million Americans are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts and nearly 7 million are allergic to seafood. Food allergies cause 30,000 cases of anaphylaxis, 2,000 hospitalizations and 150 deaths annually.
The airline insists that “We’ll create a buffer zone of three rows in front of and three rows behind your seat. We’ll also advise cabin service to board additional nonpeanut snacks, which will allow our flight attendants to serve these snack items to everyone within this area.” Forgive me for being doubtful. It is often hard to even get a seat on airplanes. I would be interested to see who the airline will accommodate millions of passengers needing a “buffering zone,” as opposed to saying that they will have to take another flight. More importantly, the risk remains that there will be exposure to peanuts in the bathroom, seat armrests, seat trays etc.
I remain surprised that airlines have not been held negligent over the use of this snack, which is clearly preferred because it is a cheap option.
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