Allergy sufferers might enjoy this news from Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). A press release on its website reveals the group has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation against American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL).
The complaint alleges that American Airlines misleads passengers with food allergies about their legal rights. FARE’s concern is with American Airlines’s written policy prohibiting passengers from pre-boarding.
However, FARE says the Air Carrier Access Act prohibits airlines from discriminating based on mental or physical disabilities. The Act also says that any passenger with a disability is entitled to pre-boarding if he or she feels it is necessary.
In December 2016, a family traveling on American Airlines asked to pre-board in order to wipe down the seating area to prevent coming into contact with problematic foods. Their request was denied and a complaint was filed at that time by Mary Vargas, a disability rights lawyer. (See also: Passengers Sue American Airlines after Chicago Fire.)
According to the FARE press release, Vargas says, “The law is clear — airlines must allow pre-boarding for individuals with food allergies who need to wipe down and secure their seating area. American Airlines, in denying this right, is in blatant violation of law. DOT must step in and take action.”
Allergicliving.com points out a 2013 University of Michigan study which found that pre-boarding is a mitigating factor in avoiding in-flight allergic reactions since it gives passengers time to clean their seating area without needing to rush. (See also: Are Economy Class Flights Finally Improving?)
American Airlines’s nut allergy policy states it cannot guarantee a nut-free environment, provide nut buffer zones, or prohibit other passengers from bringing nuts aboard the aircraft. The policy encourages passengers to “take all necessary medical precautions to prepare for the possibility of exposure.”