Peanuts could be banned from all commercial flights due to concerns about passengers with severe allergies to the common airline snack, federal officials say.
A significant number of kids have been diagnosed with peanut allergies and some avoid air travel altogether on fears of a serious allergic reaction, according to the Department of Transportation.
And since reactions can even be fatal, the DOT is considering and welcoming comments on new airline peanut policies including a total ban on peanuts, a ban on peanuts only on flights where a passenger has specifically requested a peanut-free flight or establishing a peanut-free buffer zone around a passenger who’s allergic, the agency says.
Not having rules against peanuts on airlines could actually constitute discrimination, the DOT notes. While, generally, people with allergies aren’t considered disabled, if an allergen prevents a person from being able to breathe or otherwise function, the allergy is considered a disability, the agency says. According to the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines are forbidden from discriminating against the disabled.
The DOT still has yet to consider the likelihood of an allergic passenger having a bad reaction from peanut dust particles in the air or what to do about passengers who bring peanuts on board flights with a passenger who is allergic and whether an automatic epinephrine injection is enough to treat a reaction.
The group will also consider whether to ban all foods that contain peanuts or peanut oil, like peanut butter crackers, for example.