During the last several months, there have been several stories in the news and on social media regarding negative incidents that have occurred involving airlines and people with nut allergies. I can relate as a mom of four children with multiple food allergies, two of them are allergic to nuts. It can be scary and challenging at times, traveling with them, because not everyone understands the potential for a life-threatening situation. And when flying, having an anaphylactic incident occur is the last thing I (and I’m sure anyone else) wants to have happen in the air during a flight.
Recently, I was flying from Las Vegas to Kansas City on Spirit airlines by myself, sans kids. As I sat down in my seat and prepared to place my bags on the floor in front of me, I noticed peanut and tree nut shells all over the floor in front of my seat. Immediately, I stopped what I was doing and accessed the situation. Sure, it would be great if the airlines could do a “quick” vacuum of the floors between flights – to clean up after the people who seem to think the floor is a garbage can. But that is probably an unrealistic expectation.
Even though I wasn’t traveling with my children that have food allergies, I knew that whatever I placed on the floor in front of me was going to end up with peanut and tree nut debris all over it – which I would then be bringing into my home. This was not good.
When we are traveling with children who have food allergies, especially peanut and tree nut allergies, we will request the flight be nut-free (if possible), we wipe down the trays, seats and areas where our children will be touching and sitting, we check around the floor and seat for obvious signs of nuts, etc.
But when we travel without our children who have food allergies, are we taking the same precautions? After all, if after our flight we will be heading home and/or will be coming in contact with our children who have food allergies, we are putting them at risk by exposing them to the allergens we picked up on our flight, that we try so hard to keep our children (and homes) free from.
The initial solution to my dilemma was to ask the flight attendant if I could move to another seat with a “clean” floor area around me, after I explained my situation to him. He was very friendly about my issues, expressed equal concern, and immediately obliged in moving me to a new seat. But as I sat in my “new” seat, I got to thinking that my solution was possibly not the best one, because on Spirit, customers purchase their seats. Whose ever seat I was now sitting in, may not want my “old” seat. Or perhaps it is a family traveling together with children, they probably aren’t going to want to split their party apart. I can understand that as a mom.
The revised solution: I decided to go back to my “old” seat, but asked for several large plastic bags, which the flight attendant gladly gave to me. I placed a couple of bags on the floor for my feet to rest on (so no debris ends up on my shoes) and I placed my items into the plastic bags that then allowed my items to be safe from the nut debris on the floor. When I got off the plane, I gave the used plastic bags back to the flight attendant to throw out. Crisis averted. My items were protected and I prevented bringing nut allergens into my home. Thank you Spirit Airlines for helping my children still be safe, even though they weren’t flying with me this time.