American Airlines will start allowing passengers with allergies to board planes early, effective Dec. 12.
The move comes in response to a complaint filed by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in Jan. 17. The complaint was filed with the Department of Transportation regarding American Airlines’ policy prohibiting passengers with food allergies from preboarding aircraft at the same time as people with other disabilities.
Allowing passengers to pre-board would give them time to clean their seating area and reduce the potential exposure to allergens.
Delta Air Lines has had a similar policy in place for some time.
"Our agents and flight attendants are trained on how to best support customers with allergies in a number of ways – this includes refraining from serving peanut products on board when a peanut allergy is known, making cabin announcements to alert other customers of the allergy so they can refrain from opening personal peanut snacks in flight, and offering pre-boarding to customers with allergies so they can cleanse their immediate seating area," Savannah Huddleston, a Delta spokesperson, said.
"We encourage customers with known peanut allergies to notify Delta through Reservations before their flight so accommodations can be made."
Lisa Gable, CEO of FARE said the airlines' pre-boarding allowances are a good move.
“Any time a company takes action to address the needs of the food allergy community, FARE views this as an important step in the right direction," Gable said. "For families managing life-threatening peanut and tree nut allergies, this policy change helps mitigate the risk of an allergic reaction. We hope to see the policy address all food allergens in the future.”
Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network told "GMA" "We know from studies that peanut allergen can stay on surfaces if not cleaned properly so this step allows patients and families to take an extra precaution to avoid any adverse reactions while in flight. I would also add that having epinephrine auto-injectors on all aircrafts would be an even better additional step."