Peanut Allergy Policies of Airlines: A Comprehensive List

his is a listing of the peanut allergy policies of airlines — all of which are based in the United States and Canada that offer commercial passenger service — as a supplemental follow-up to this article pertaining to the continuous debate of whether or not the allergies of passengers should determine what food is served or permitted aboard an airplane.

Without further ado, here is the list of the allergy policies of 18 different airlines; and the headings of each airline are direct live links to the policies to which they refer…

Air Canada Policy Regarding Customers with Allergies

Air Canada serves and offers for sale products containing various ingredients that may be allergens for some passengers. If you are allergic or sensitive to products that may be found in an aircraft cabin, it is your responsibility to always carry the proper medication and other protection.

If you have severe allergies, you should always carry one or more EpiPen (epinephrine), Auto-Injectors, much as you would under other circumstances.

Allergies to peanuts and nuts

We have phased out peanuts from all packaged bar snacks onboard our aircraft in all classes of service. In addition, we have also replaced our other packaged snack products with non-peanut alternatives wherever possible. However:

  • We cannot offer a special meal that is nut-/peanut-free.
  • We cannot guarantee that the complimentary meal or other food items served on board will be free from peanuts, peanut by-products or any other food to which a person may be allergic, as it would be impossible to manage with our many caterers, their suppliers and sub-suppliers.
  • We cannot be responsible for passengers who may bring peanuts or other products on board, or for any residue that may remain on or between seat cushions.
  • We cannot allow a child who is severely allergic to peanuts/peanut products to travel as an unaccompanied minor.
  • In addition to carrying one or more EpiPen Auto-Injectors, customers with severe nut/peanut allergies are responsible for taking any other precautions, such as packing their own snacks, using a hand sanitizer, and bringing wet wipes to clean surrounding areas.

Buffer zone seating for severe peanut/nut allergies

If you have a severe allergy to peanuts or nuts you may request that a buffer zone* be set up around your seat in order to help avoid the risk of exposure. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Only the other customers seated within the buffer zone* will be briefed on board by the flight attendant prior to departure:
    • They will be informed that they must not consume nut/peanut products.
    • They will not be offered any Air Canada Café items containing nuts/peanuts.
  • There will not be a general announcement to all customers about the existence of a buffer zone* or about the customer with severe nut/peanut allergies.

Severe allergies to cats or dogs

If you have a severe allergy to cats or dogs, you should carry your asthma inhaler, as well as hand sanitizer and wet wipes to clean surrounding areas.

Medical approval is required for all passengers, regardless of the itinerary, when requesting a buffer zone* for severe allergies to cats or dogs.

Please note that certain restrictions or conditions may apply with regard to severe allergies to dogs.

How to request a buffer zone

To request a buffer zone*, please contact the Air Canada Medical Assistance Desk at least 48 hours before your flight, regardless of your itinerary. We will also make a reasonable effort to accommodate your request if it is made within 48 hours.

Air Canada Medical Assistance Desk

Phone:
1-800-667-4732 (Toll-free between Canada and the U.S.)
1-514-369-7039 (long distance charges apply)

Hours of operation (ET):

* Note: In International Business Class, the buffer zone consists of the suite occupied by the passenger with allergies.

Air Inuit: Allergies

At Air Inuit, we understand a growing number of people live with food allergies, especially to nuts or peanuts, which is why we do not serve any meals or snacks that may contain such allergens. We do our best to accommodate passengers with allergies, but we cannot guarantee an allergen-free environment.

  • We cannot guarantee that the complementary meal or any other food items served on board are free from peanuts or otherwise nut-free.
  • We cannot be responsible for passengers who bring nuts on board.

 

Note: We therefore strongly advise that travellers with known allergies bring along their anti-allergic medications such as EpiPen in their carry-on baggage.

Air Transat: Allergies

Rest assured that Air Transat does not serve peanut or seafood products on board. However, as all foods are prepared in an external facility, we are unable to guarantee that allergens will not be present in the food or snacks served onboard or that other passengers will not bring these products on board. As a result, we strongly suggest that passengers with severe food allergies bring their own food and snacks for the duration of the flight, as well as any appropriate medication such as an Epi-pen. For travellers with severe allergies to nuts and peanut products, we will be happy to assist with on-board comfort by making a general announcement, as well as asking adjacent passengers to refrain from consuming their own nut and peanut products on board.

Alaska Airlines: Peanuts, Nuts, and other Severe Allergies

We cannot prevent travelers from bringing products containing nuts or other allergens (e.g. service animals) onboard our flights. Some First Class meals and meals for purchase in the main cabin may contain nuts. Therefore, Alaska Airlines is unable to guarantee a nut- or allergen-free flight. Attempting to do this would create a false sense of security for passengers with severe allergies. We encourage travelers who are allergic to nuts to bring their own food items for travel. Travelers with severe allergies are also encouraged to consult with their doctor regarding the safety of air travel.

Please advise the Gate Agent if you would like to pre-board to cleanse your immediate seating area.

Allegiant Air: Peanut Allergies and Other Allergies

Allegiant does not maintain a peanut-free zone on any aircraft. Allegiant serves products that may have been manufactured in facilities that process peanuts or peanut-based products. Customers are also allowed to bring food onboard the aircraft and may bring products that are manufactured in facilities that process peanuts or peanut-based products. Allegiant cannot control what foods customers bring on the plane and does not guarantee a peanut-free or allergen-free flight. Upon request, Allegiant will attempt to re-seat a passenger affected by a peanut dust allergy in an effort to minimize the passenger’s exposure to the allergen.

Allegiant does not guarantee an allergen-free flight. Upon request, Allegiant will attempt to re-seat a passenger affected by an allergy in an effort to minimize the passenger’s exposure to the allergen.

American Airlines: Nut Allergies

American recognizes that some passengers are allergic to peanut and other tree nuts. Although we do not serve peanuts, we do serve other nut products (such as warmed nuts) and there may be trace elements of unspecified nut ingredient, including peanut oils, in meals and snacks. Requests that we not serve any particular foods, including tree nuts, on our flights cannot be granted. We are not able to provide nut “buffer zones,” nor are we able to allow passengers to pre-board to wipe down seats and tray tables. Our planes are cleaned regularly, but these cleanings are not designed to ensure the removal of nut allergens, nor are our air filtration systems designed to remove nut allergens. Additionally, other customers may choose to bring peanuts or other tree nuts on board. Therefore, we are unable to guarantee that customers will not be exposed to peanuts or other tree nuts during flight, and we strongly encourage customers to take all necessary medical precautions to prepare for the possibility of exposure.

Delta Air Lines: Peanut Allergies

When you notify us that you have a peanut allergy, we’ll refrain from serving peanuts and peanut products onboard your flight. We’ll also advise cabin service to board additional non-peanut snacks, which will allow our flight attendants to serve these snack items to everyone within this area. Gate agents will be notified in case you’d like to pre-board and cleanse the immediate seating area. Unfortunately we still can’t guarantee that the flight will be completely peanut-free.  Note that some snack products on board may be processed in plants which also process peanut products.

First Air: Allergy Alert

Although First Air cannot guarantee a peanut, nut or food allergy free environment on any of our flights, we will endeavor to put safeguards in place to protect our passengers.

We are sensitive to the concerns of allergy sufferers, and we understand that some of our customers may not wish to be seated too close to a cat or small dog during their flight. For this reason, we ask that, if you are an allergy sufferer, you advise the check-in agent or gate agent prior to your flight departure to ensure you are not next to a customer travelling with a pet. We will make reasonable effort to move you or the pet and pet owner.

On board announcements

In the instance where passengers have self-identified an allergy at the time of booking or check in, an announcement will be made by the crew requesting the consideration of the other passengers to avoiding consumption of foods containing that allergen.  While we cannot guarantee compliance of the request, we will do our best to inform other passengers on your flight.

Catered food

First Air is pleased to provide meals, including hot meals on many of our flights. Although we have instructed our caterers to avoid nut products, we do not make any guarantee that any food served on board is nut free. We cannot control the many caterers and suppliers and sub-suppliers in this regard.  Any passenger that is allergic or sensitive to products that may be found in the cabin is responsible to bring the proper medication and to have the proper protection with them.

Exercise caution – what you can do:

  • Ensure you have taken any and all precautions including receiving travel advice from your physician prior to boarding one of our flights.
  • If you have been prescribed an epinephrine auto injector (e.g. EpiPen), you should not board your flight without ensuring you have it with you.
  • Passengers are highly recommended to bring their own food for personal consumption as a precaution against onboard meals that may contain allergens.
  • Be aware of your surroundings – We do not screen any food items other passengers may bring on board that may cause allergic reactions.  Additionally, we cannot guarantee that traces, residue and oils of these allergens will not be present on seat cushions, seatbelts, armrests, table trays or elsewhere in the cabin, even after the aircraft is groomed.

 

It is the sole responsibility of the passenger to self identify as having a sensitivity or allergy to peanuts, nuts or other food at the time of booking and to take all precautions to protect themselves.

Frontier Airlines: Peanut Allergies

Frontier Airlines acknowledges that some of our passengers suffer from mild to severe peanut allergies. For this reason, we do not want to create false expectations with regard to the aircraft environment. We are unable to guarantee a peanut or allergen-free flight, nor can we prevent other customers from bringing peanuts or products containing peanuts onboard our flights. Some inflight food offerings may contain trace amounts of nut ingredients, or may have been processed in facilities that handle nuts, including peanuts.Prior to making travel plans with Frontier, we urge you to speak with your health professional regarding risks of onboard exposure to any allergen.

Hawaiian Airlines: Allergies in Flight

While we understand that some people are allergic to peanuts, nut products, animals or other items that may be on our flights or that passengers might bring onto our aircraft, we cannot guarantee allergen-free flights. Please consider the possibility of exposure on any aircraft, particularly when accepting in-flight meals or snacks. If you have an allergy, we strongly advise you to take all necessary medical precautions to prepare for the possibility of exposure.

You’re welcome to bring your own food on your flight. Many people take the precaution of carrying epinephrine (epi-pens) or other suitable self-administered anaphylaxis treatment prescribed by their physician. Please review TSA guidelines on carrying liquid prescription medication and please make sure you keep your medication in your carry-on luggage so you can access it in-flight if you need to.

JetBlue Airways: Nut Allergies

JetBlue does not serve peanuts and has no immediate plans to serve peanuts; however, we cannot guarantee that our aircraft or snacks will be 100% free of peanuts, peanut material or peanut products.

“Tree nuts” such as almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, etc. may be served on JetBlue flights. For a full list of our onboard snacks & beverages, Click Here.

There is a possibility that some food items served come from facilities that also manufacture products that may contain peanuts, peanut material or peanut products.

We cannot prevent other customers from bringing their own peanuts or peanut products onboard and consuming these items inflight. However, we ask that you inform the head Inflight crewmember upon boarding the aircraft of your severe nut allergy. Upon request, an Inflight crewmember will create a buffer zone one row in front and one row behind the allergic person. The Inflight crewmember will ask customers seated in the buffer zone to refrain from consuming any nut containing products they have brought onboard and will not serve any nut containing products to these rows.

JetBlue will offer a full refund to customers for whom these conditions make it impossible to travel.

Porter Airlines: Nut Free Cabin Zone

While Porter is pleased to assist passengers with allergies, we cannot guarantee an allergen-free environment given the public nature of our aircraft.

With 48 hours notice, we will remove nut products from our in-flight service menu and assign seating in a buffer zone where passengers are requested not to consume any nut product. Despite our efforts, nut product residue may continue to be present in the cabin, other onboard food items may contain trace elements of nuts and other passengers may bring aboard food items containing nut products or residue. For this reason, passengers with a nut allergy are strongly encouraged to take all necessary medical precautions to prepare for the possibility of exposure.

Southwest Airlines: Peanut Dust Allergies

Because it is nearly impossible for persons who have an allergy to peanut dust to avoid triggering a reaction if peanut dust is in the air, Southwest Airlines is unable to guarantee a peanut-free or allergen-free flight. We have procedures in place to assist our Customers with severe allergies to peanut dust and will make every attempt not to serve packaged peanuts on the aircraft when our Customers alert us of their allergy to peanut dust.

We ask Customers with peanut dust allergies making reservations over the phone to advise our Customer Representatives of the allergy at the time the reservation is made. If the reservation is made via a travel agent, the Customer should telephone 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) afterward to speak with a Customer Representative. If the reservation is made via southwest.com, the Customer may advise us of the allergy on the “Southwest Airlines Payment and Passenger Information” screen by clicking on the link to “Add/Edit Disability Assistance Options.”

We suggest that Customers with peanut dust allergies book travel on early morning flights as our aircraft undergo a thorough cleaning only at the end of the day.

We ask the Customer with the allergy (or someone speaking on the Customer’s behalf) to check in at the departure gate one hour prior to departure and speak with the Customer Service Agent (CSA) regarding the Customer’s allergy. Please allow enough time to park, check luggage and/or receive your boarding pass, and to pass through the security checkpoint. Our CSA will provide the Customer with a Peanut Dust Allergy Document and ask him/her to present the document to the Flight Attendant upon boarding. If the Customer has a connection, the CSA will provide the Customer with two documents, one of which should be retained to present to the Flight Attendant on the connecting flight.

Our CSA will advise the Operations (Boarding) Agent so that service of packaged peanuts can be suspended for that flight. Our Operations Agent will notify the Provisioning and/or Ramp Supervisor to stock the aircraft with a sufficient supply of pretzels or alternate snacks. The Operations Agent will also notify the Flight Attendants of the Customer’s final destination and advise them that we cannot serve packaged peanuts until the Customer deplanes.

As some of our other snack items may contain peanut particles, peanut oil, or have been packaged in a peanut facility, Customers who have allergic reactions to eating/ingesting peanuts should read the ingredients on any packaged snack before consumption. Of course, all Customers are welcome to bring their own snacks with them.

Southwest cannot prevent other Customers from bringing peanuts or products containing peanuts onboard our flights. In addition, Southwest cannot give assurances that remnants of peanuts and/or peanut dust/oil will not remain on the aircraft floor, seats, or tray tables from the flights earlier in the aircraft’s routing.

In addition, Southwest Airlines cannot guarantee that a flight will be free of other allergens such as perfumes, lotions, cleaning solutions, etc.

Spirit Airlines: Peanut Allergies

For those with peanut allergies: we do sell peanuts. We cannot guarantee customers will not be exposed to peanuts during the flight and strongly encourage customers to take all necessary medical precautions to prepare for the possibility of exposure. In an effort to ensure your well being, please alert our gate agents and flight attendants if you do have an allergy, and we will create a peanut-free buffer-zone for you which includes the row you’ll be seated in, the row in front of you, the row behind you and the corresponding rows on either side of the aisle as well.

Sun Country Airlines: Nut Allergies

Sun Country Airlines recognizes that some passengers are allergic to peanuts and other tree nuts. Sun Country may serve products containing peanuts and peanut products. Additionally, we may serve other nut products (such as walnuts on salads). There may be trace elements of unspecified nut ingredients, including peanut oils, in meals and snacks.

We do not have in place procedures that allow our flight crews not to serve these foods upon request of a customer. We do not provide “buffer zones”. Our planes are cleaned regularly, but these cleanings are not designed to ensure the removal of nut allergens, nor are our air filtration systems designed to remove nut allergens. Additionally, other customers may bring peanuts or tree nuts on board.

Therefore, we cannot guarantee customers will not be exposed to peanuts or other tree nuts during flight, and we strongly encourage customers to take all necessary precautions to prepare for the possibility of exposure.

United Airlines: Customers with Peanut Allergies

United is committed to the safety of its customers, including customers with peanut allergies. United does not serve pre-packaged peanuts on our flights. However, some foods we serve may include nuts or contain trace amounts of nut ingredients (including traces of peanuts), or may have been processed in facilities that handle nuts, including peanuts.

Although we do not serve peanuts on our flights, it’s not possible to prevent customers from bringing food items on board that contain peanuts. If you have concerns about peanut allergies, please notify a flight attendant on board the aircraft. In some cases, we may be able to pass along your request to other customers seated nearby to refrain from opening or eating any peanut products that they may have brought on board.

For operational reasons, we cannot remove any onboard products based on individual customer requests, and we do not offer nut-free buffer zones on our aircraft. Since we cannot guarantee nut-free flights, we encourage customers to review any health concerns with their physicians prior to flying.

Virgin America: Allergies

Virgin America recognizes that some Guests are allergic to nuts, and that exposure to nuts can result in dire, or even fatal, consequences for Guests with the most severe allergies. Virgin America cannot guarantee an environment free of any allergies, including peanuts, peanut dust, peanut oil, or peanut remnants. Guests with severe allergies should advise Virgin America prior to travel.

WestJet: Nut or Peanut Allergies

WestJet does its best to accommodate guests with allergies; however, as our aircraft are open to the public, we cannot guarantee an allergen-free environment.

We respect the concerns of our guests who have allergies triggered by nuts, peanuts, or animal dander. The following information outlines the measures WestJet employs to address concerns of this nature, while maintaining a balanced guest experience approach for all guests.

It is our intention to provide a clear and transparent allergy policy, so guests can make informed decisions when travelling with WestJet.

WestJet can’t guarantee an allergen-free environment. We do not serve nut products onboard our aircraft; however, some of WestJet’s onboard snacks may contain traces of nuts or peanuts. Also, we do not screen any food items that other WestJet guests may bring onboard that may cause allergic reactions. As such, nut residue, oils or other allergens may be present on tray tables, seat cushions or elsewhere in the cabin, and may not be removed despite regular grooming.

Because WestJet understands the medical implications of severe nut or peanut-related allergies, guests who inform a flight attendant or member of the flight crew about having a severe nut or peanut-related allergy will be asked if they have an epinephrine auto-injector (e.g., EpiPen®, Allerject®) with them.

WestJet has had EpiPen auto-injectors on board its aircraft from 2010 until the end of October 2015. Prior to making the auto-injectors available on the aircraft again, it is standard practice to re-evaluate such programs. This process is now underway and it is our intention to complete this review as quickly as possible and an update will be provided here upon completion.

WestJet will request that other guests within two rows* of a guest with a severe allergy to nuts or nut products refrain from consuming food product(s) with nuts, nut products or peanuts that the allergic guest may react to. It is important to note that WestJet cannot enforce compliance.

*Please note the “two rows” does not include the row the guest is seated in. For example, if the guest with the allergy is in row 5, then guests in rows 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 will be requested to refrain from consuming foods with nuts or peanuts.

In addition, a public address Allergy Announcement will be made on board when a guest self identifies as being allergic to nuts or nut products and requests a cabin-wide announcement to be made.  The announcement will be similar to the following:

“Sorry for the interruption. We have a guest travelling with us today who has a severe allergy to peanuts/nuts. We ask that you do not open or consume any peanuts, nuts or nut products during this flight. Thanks for your help.”

Guests who have allergies to nuts, peanuts or animals should pack any necessary medication they require (e.g., antihistamines, EpiPen®, Allerject®, asthma inhalers, etc.) in their carry-on baggage, not in their checked baggage. WestJet has had EpiPen auto-injectors on board its aircraft from 2010 until the end of October 2015. Prior to making the auto-injectors available on the aircraft again, it is standard practice to re-evaluate such programs. This process is now underway and it is our intention to complete this review as quickly as possible and an update will be provided here upon completion.

While our food items do not contain nuts or peanuts, some of WestJet’s on board snacks may contain traces of nuts or peanuts, and we recommend that guests with severe allergies to nuts or peanuts bring their own food items. Please note that we do not have microwaves or refrigerators onboard.

Guests who are not comfortable with the possible exposure to allergens in the aircraft cabin may wish to consider an alternate means of transportation in order to avoid the risk of a reaction.

Although WestJet is unable to provide compensation or make special provisions for guests who have severe allergies to nuts, peanuts or animals, we do offer the following options if the guest identifies that their allergen will be present on their flight (confirmed visually by the guest upon boarding or once on board the aircraft) and they:

  1. Are not comfortable travelling on their reserved flight WestJet will book them on the next available WestJet flight to their original destination at no additional cost; or
  2. Elect to not travel at all, in which case WestJet will provide a full refund for the cost of the flight (base fare plus all taxes and surcharges applicable to the fare). WestJet will not issue a refund for the flight after it has departed.*

 

*Please note: Any guest who booked their travel through a tour operator (including WestJet Vacations) should contact the tour operator regarding any changes. Any change to the WestJet flight can impact other components booked in a package, such as hotels, transfers or tickets to events. Not all components of a vacation package can be changed or cancelled without penalty.

WestJet does not accept any responsibility for any allergy-related complications, missed connections to other flights or cruise ships, or any impact to vacation packages.

Summary

Although the airlines listed above have differing policies pertaining to allergies of passengers aboard their airplanes, not one of them will guarantee an environment aboard the airplane free of allergens — which would be quite difficult to maintain with any degree of certainty and consistency.

Perhaps one day, products and treatments proven to be effective will be available for those people who suffer from severe allergies and render these policies obsolete sometime in the future…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

3 thoughts on “Peanut Allergy Policies of Airlines: A Comprehensive List”

  1. charles says:

    JetBlue put in place a totally different scenario when we travelled. We do not have allergies that we are aware of. My son is autistic so we plan trips carefully and prepare snacks.
    When we boarded we immediately started eating snacks. My son ate a popular bar that contained peanuts, some ended up on his shirt and pants.
    An announcement was made that there was a pax with severe peanut allergies and the flight would be peanut free. We took safety very seriously and pointed out that peanuts had been consumed, were on clothing and in the air.
    The cabin crew, in contact with some medical advisor to JetBlue and the allergic pax decided that;
    1, the pax stays onboard.
    2, We have my son travel in undergarments and seal his clothing in a plastic bag. We were also asked to wipe my sons body with alcohol wipes. We objected but complied.
    After the flight I suggested the allergic pax stay behind and deplane via the rear door which was used at FLL. The allergy was no longer serious and they no longer had concerns.
    In my humble opinion, the pax was off the wall with demands and JetBlue was unreasonable. Not even a thanks nor an apology was offered.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      It is a real shame when there is no appreciation or gratitude expressed after genuinely going through the trouble to ensure that a fellow passenger is comfortable, charles — especially when you were technically under no obligation to do so.

      For what it is worth, I believe that what you did was commendable with regards to taking safety very seriously. There should be more people like you in this world. Thank you…

      …and I wish all the best for you and your family — especially for your autistic son.

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