Two teenage boys were thrown off a Korean Air flight after mentioning their peanut allergy. The story again raises the question of how should these situations should be handled.
The Patel brothers were traveling from Atlanta to Manila via Seoul to visit their father, who is on assignment there. They booked the ticket with Delta and alerted Delta immediately to their severe peanut allergy. The longhaul Atlanta to Seoul flight operated by Delta was no issue: no peanuts were served.
But upon boarding the Korean Air connection in Seoul, the boys claimed they were met with an unsympathetic choice: deal with the peanuts or get off the flight. The crew claimed it would not “deprive other guests of peanuts” and appeared totally indifferent to their allergy. Left stranded in the airport, the boys returned to Atlanta on Delta.
Delta apologized, stating:
Delta and our partner Korean Air are communicating with the family and examining the processes surrounding this incident; we will use our findings in our work to create a consistent experience for customers flying Delta and our partner airlines.
Meanwhile, Korean Air seemed to understand the bad optics of the situation.
Korean Air is aware that peanut and food allergies are an industry issue and no airline can guarantee a food allergy-free environment. But we are reviewing ways to deal with this issue in a safe and feasible way. We totally understand the risks faced by passengers with nut and food allergies and will certainly try to accommodate them better in the future.
Airlines are in a difficult position on this issue. I understand the liability and it’s not totally unreasonable to wonder why 400 people should suffer on account of one or two. But put it in perspective. What’s more important? Your enjoyment of a bag of peanuts or a Thai dish with spicy peanut sauce or the life of another person? As annoying as it is, I’m willing to forgo peanuts. But I also don’t want an airline to be sued if they ask other passengers not to consume their own peanut-based products they have brought onboard and that request is ignored.
We’re all in this together. I hope we would all put aside short-term enjoyment in order to protect our vulnerable seatmates from a severe reaction. But if I knew I was going to die if I came into contact with traces of peanut in the air, I doubt you’d see me on a plane very often.
How do you think airlines should handle peanut allergies?
I don’t even know why airlines still serve peanuts, or nuts in general. Not an insignificant amount of the population are allergic to nuts, so it seems like a no brainer to just not serve them.
And expensive compared to pretzels or snack mix.
It’s 0.6% of the population allergic to peanuts. And 0.5% to tree nuts. I’m allergic to cumin. A boy allergic to all dairy products recently died in England. Perhaps airlines should not allow any food on airplanes.
Screw Korean Air, they are a PITA and this is why no respectable points entity UR/MR wants anything to do with them.
Yes. Anyone that even thinks capitalism is a good idea shouldn’t even rely on fairness or niceness of strangers unless it is explicitly mentioned in a contract. Be self sufficient. If you have a peanut allergy buy your own plane.
You definitely have a ‘problem’
Does Korean Air do ANYTHING right these days? Or is everyone at that airline completely clueless?
They could have just served macadamia nuts… but not in the bag, of course, unless you want to get yelled at by the owners.
HAHAHAHAHAHA that was a good one.
Korean Air is in the same pitiful realm of bad Asian airlines as Air India.
This is partly a cultural thing. Whole > parts. I think it’s commendable– bummer you have an allergy. Hate that for you. The rest of the world doesn’t, so move along. Nothing is fair, including flying.
Korean Air’s second peanutgate. Now it’s FAs who screw passengers over nuts.
Why do idiots who have personal problems expect everyone else to adapt instead of adapting themselves? Everyone knows these idiots are well aware that peanuts may be served and if they don’t like it, they should inquire before wasting everybody else’s time and find alternate means of travel. I think I’ll start packing peanuts in my carry-on just because I like them!
What an absolute prick
Do the words “Anaphylactic shock” mean anything to you? Have you ever experienced it?
This is what happens during a severe peanut allergy.
I agree with Alvin. I mean, how do these people go about life — I am sure walking down a grocery aisle could introduce peanut dust into their nostrils. Doesn’t mean we should create a special grocery store for them. People with allergies are quite entitled in my view. Where does this stop?
People who KNOW they have a specific allergy should carry an EpiPen. Airplanes gonna serve nuts, passengers are going to bring nut laced snacks – that’s not going to change.
If you or your kid have a SEVERE peanut allergy? Why the hell would you put yourself at risk of death depending on some random jackass working for an airline?
So you are commenting about commiting a crime of attempted murder? As you are claiming you will bring bags of peanuts with you so that you can make your point?
Watch someone not be able to regain oxygen in his/her lungs right before your eyes, just because you couldn’t stop yourself from eating nuts for a couple of hours.
And next time this happens to you, please feel personally entitled to guilt.
Pricks all of you. You all should be ashamed of yourselves.
It’s pretty clear that this is an airline to avoid. Way beyond three strikes.
What about if people have other allergies? Clear the plane of other nuts? Shellfish? Whatever else? To what degree do you discomfort an entire plane for one or two people? It’s a slippery slope.
Exactly! I’m allergic to flying in economy class for more than 2 hours so I must be accommodated in First – though I think business would be fine.
Also, I can’t eat airplane food, so I’ll need something catered – preferably a good, medium rib-eye. Wake me an hour before landing, for breakfast. I’m allergic to most breakfast stuff… perhaps some avocado toast with salmon and a glass of Salon 2001 would work. Thanks!
You need your parents to make a blog and article about it so it seems legit. Only then, you can collect supports from morons everywhere to acknowledge your special condition of allergic. Viva snowflake!!!
Quite right. Public transportation is for the public at large and I’m sorry if your allergies prevent you from using it. Please make other arrangements or wear a mask.
Don’t be so freakin’ mean: this can be a matter of life or death, and you suggest these boys can’t fly just so that some selfish grunts get to eat peanuts?
What’s the world coming to!
I agree with Alvin (though, I would have worded it differently). We live in a society where the masses have to change for the few …
How do people with such severe allergies go to the grocery store? Movie theater?
How did airlines react to nut allergies before it was a “thing”?
I only ask the above because my cousin has worked @ Southwest since the 70’s and she never heard anyone making a fuss over when they served peanuts until the past few years (now they don’t) …
I agree also. If I had such an allergy, I would likely take precaution such as wearing a respirator mask. I hate it that those folks have those conditions, but I don’t feel that airlines should have to accommodate everyone’s specific condition. I say this as someone that doesn’t even eat peanuts. However, in this specific situation, if the two passengers were assured by Delta that there would be no risk of peanuts throughout the flights, they definitely have a valid grievance, regardless of my personal view.
Because, regardless of number of universities and higher education institution, american society is an idiot one.
Rather than educating the masses, its easier to comply to their idiot request. Smart people is hard be steered. Idiots on the other hand….
Be proud of being obese (its totally healthy and beauty). Homoseksual is not a psychological disease (LGBT is human rights). Carrying guns is for self defense (ignoring duties of law enforcement).
Peanut allergic is special and unique person and everyone MUST served their requirement (rather than treating the allergic person or teach them how to adapt to allergen.
Because “peanut allergic” is not “special and unique”, and there’s no “adapting” or treatment for it.
Who’s the ignorant “american” idiot?
Just because you don’t know doesn’t mean there’s none.
Special and unique and very much self entitled spoiled brats.
Is it because of allergies or because the removed passengers were american?
They were allergic to peanuts and demanded everyone comply to their specific requirements rather than make themselves able to adapt to the allergen.
What would had happened if an asian, boarding a US operated carrier, which accept animals on cabin, and declare him/herself allergic to such animal? Will the carrier forbade the animal on board? Or said passenger(s) left stranded at the airport? Or get beaten to a bloody pulp just like some doctor in some US carrier?
If it matters, they were dark-skinned Indian Americans…
Hmm… Maybe that’s the reason they were not perceived as caucasian, thus, didn’t get a special treatment like they’ve felt they were entitled to. Maybe…
I think it’s cultural and some communication issues.
Delta flies to MNL via NRT…… so they could have flown ATL-NRT-MNL instead of going through ICN.
IF you are interested the full story is on my website as to the details -http://nonuttraveler.com/two-unaccompanied-minors-kicked-off-connecting-international-flight-for-food-allergies and I want you to realize that most food allergic passengers CAN fly safely after taking precautions such as having the airline NOT serve the allergen to every passenger on the plane, being able to pre-board to clean for past contamination and asking those around to be careful. I have testimonials of food allergic flyers having to travel for cancer treatment, military personnel, divorced families, business trips, sporting competitions and much more- there are airlines that do it right so it can be done. This family had an ailing grandparent- the boys wanted to see their grandfather- just like with any other disability in the air under the ACAA they should not be discriminated against. Maybe this piece can give you another perspective- https://themighty.com/2017/09/your-disability-is-not-my-problem/ – always happy to talk further about this topic if you are interested
What about pet allergies? Would someone be denied boarding with their pet if someone else on the plane is allergic?
When does someones severe pet allergy take precedent over an “emotional support” animal OR legit support animal?
actually service animals do in general take precedence – it is an issue for those who fly with animal allergies- airlines like Jetblue have a box to check for both animal and nut allergy and they do their best to accommodate. There are no easy answers – but we are smart enough to not kick off children or adults for food allergy – there are always ways to not get into this situation and none of these strategies were even entertained-instead these children were mocked and penalized for having a condition they could not control- I have written on this extensively you can read more here -https://www.allergicliving.com/2017/07/11/fair-treatment-in-the-skies/
Pet allergies are entirely different than a peanut allergy. It is very rare for it to trigger anaphylaxis which can be deadly. Allergies like peanuts are a different story. Some are severely allergic like my grandson, but a step worse than that is a contact allergy. That’s where any peanut dust in the room can kill you. If your loved one has a PB&J sandwich, then kisses you hours later any residue can kill you. A teenaged girl in my town died on meth. She didn’t OD. It was cooked in peanut oil. Absolutely tragic. Peanut allergies are among the most common and deadly. Thank God my 5 year old grandson isn’t contact allergic. Still it’s terrifying for my daughter. Leaving him with most people is scary. Taking him to the store is scary especially places with samples. He’s little and we try to get him to understand, but then someone at a store offers him a treat with nuts in it. We decline. He cries sometimes and says, but I want peanuts. There are relatives who act like she’s just being dramatic. She’s not. It’s not a game or a who’s right situation. It’s life or death. They could have easily served snack mix or something else and let those boys fly to see their dad.
For someone who is allergic to nuts you have a great last name! Mandelbaum is German for Almond Tree. LMAO.
Heard that one many times before- my child is the one allergic to peanuts but not almonds so its all ok
I read the article on your website. If everything on that testimonial is true, leaving children alone should have never happened. That is awful.
At the same time, the testimonial blows things out of proportion with dramatic words like “abuse”, “unthinkable” and it makes the story so one-sided .. sounds like these were 5 year old children in this story. They are in high school who should have some situational awareness on things happening in the world. For example, i am not sure demanding the airline (not having no peanut policy like DL does) not to serve peanuts and expecting them to accommodate it goes a little far. It might have worked better if they kindly asked surrounding passengers to refrain peanut consumption. Sometimes being “nice” can go long ways compared to being “demanding”. Also, there are a lot of description of Korean air flight attendants. While the airline has many issues, I’ve never faced flight attendant themselves behaving inappropriately even when I’m complaining to them. It’s also simply unimaginable that KE will throw somebody out of plane in UA style. KE will need to acknowledge and address / compensate for what they have done wrong, but I will say that common sense is missing here.
I read the article and I felt the testimonial seemed too demanding and entitled, especially the last line: “KOREAN AIR CEO CHO YANG-HO AND DELTA CEO EDWARD BASTIAN YOU OWE MY KIDS A PUBLIC APOLOGY.”
If the kids are similar to the parents in terms of *demanding* an airline must accommodate their needs or else, then I can see how the KE agent had no other choice than to kindly ask them to leave the plane. I agree with AK here that this is a case where being nice and personable can go a long long way.
Also, Delta has a flight to Manila (ATL-NRT-MNL) so if accommodating the peanut allergy was more important than the flight price, then it would have been better to have them fly that flight.
What an entitled creature you are…. Busy promoting your family’s entitlement all over the internet.
It’s up to Korean Air what they want to do about accommodating passengers with allergies ON THEIR OWN flights. People
can approve of their policy or not. But when it’s a code share with others such as Delta, the two airlines need to establish these details on a contract level.
Why can’t those with allergies take precautions, eg wear a HEPA or equivalent mask which reduces the chances of allergens getting to them.
This seems to be a case of compensation warriors gone nuts
Ricky: [Williamson hands Roma lead cards] Ho, ho, ho! “Patel”? “Ravadem Patel”? Wh—how’m I gonna make a living on these deadbeats? Where’d you get this from, the morgue?
John: Look, I’m …
Ricky: Oh c’mon, what’s the point? What’s the f_ckin’ point in any case? I gotta argue with you? I gotta knock heads with the cops? I’m bustin’ my balls selling your dirt to deadbeats! Money in the mattress! I come back, you can’t even keep the contracts safe, I gotta cl— [throws the cards at Williamson] F_ck this shit! I’m gonna go out and re-close last week’s stuff.
John: [picks up the lead cards] No, no, no, the word from Murray is to…leave them alone. He needs a new sit, he’ll go out himself.
Ricky: Murray’s gonna go out?
John: Yeah, he’ll be the president of the company, just came in from out of town, alright? [holds the leads up]
Ricky: [pause] Okay, okay, okay. Give me this sh_t.
John: [hands the lead cards back] I’m giving you three leads…
Ricky: Three? No, I count two.
John: There’s three leads there.
Ricky: “Patel”? F_ck you. F_cking Shiva handed this guy a million dollars, told him “Sign the deal!”, he wouldn’t sign. And the god Vishnu, too, into the bargain. F_ck you, John! You know your business, I know mine. Your business is being an a__hole. I find out whose f_cking cousin you are, I’m going to go to him and figure out a way to have your ass – f_ck you! [throws the cards at Williamson again] I’m waiting for the new leads.
Weird… i fly with Korean Air very often for biz trip,.,the airline never served peanuts during my numerous flights
Looking at meal pictures of the airline, it seems peanuts are served very often onboard.
Were they not travelling with EpiPens?
I think Matthew has it right. You accommodate the allergy by not serving the product and asking customers to refrain from eating that product. But no airline can guarantee how it’s customers are going to behave on board.
For those asking if the boys had an epi pen that’s totally irrelevant. The epi pen gets you out of trouble it doesn’t mean that you want to expose yourself to the allergen.
My last comment: Of course any passenger with a potential life threatening food allergy carries an auto-injector- that goes without saying. But what most people do NOT understand is that they don’t always work- sometimes you need to get to the hospital for more care- this is why it is paramount you try your best to mitigate the risk up in the air, far from immediate medical care. For those of you here who may respond if its that bad do not fly- I want to be clear that food allergies are unpredictable- most of the deaths including the one shared below- before the fatal reaction has only mild symptoms. There are no tests that tell you how you will react only that you will react. Food allergy flyers just want to take precautions to mitigate the risk of an in-flight reaction. I have presented on a panel with other disabilities and listening to them talk about how hard it was to have the airlines accommodate (think no ramps, access for wheelchairs etc) was eye opening for me -it was 5 years ago. We are smart enough in 2019 that no one with a legitimate disability should be thrown off an airline for that -there are always solutions-always a way to avoid that kind of conflict -but none of that was employed here – no diplomacy. If you read my piece below I also want you to think about the fact that not only are there 32 million Americans with food allergy but the incidence is increasing in adults. Sometimes the first reaction is on an airline and I do have testimonials of such. We need to educate staff on food allergy and stock easy to use auto injectors not for my son but for someone who does not yet know they have a food allergy. Education will also hopefully train staff on how to deal with passengers who present with known food allergy.
Most Common Adult Onset FoodAllergies
Shellfish – 7.2 million adults
Milk – 5.7 million
Peanut – 4.5 million
Tree nut – 1 3 million
Fin Fish – 2.2 million
Our company, Home Snack Foods, LLC, makes a gluten-free, nut-free, allergen-free snack in a nut-free USA facility, The product is Awesome Granola. It is being sold to several schools which want to avoid peanut containing products. Comes in three flavors, Original, Raisin/Cranberry and Chocolate. Available in a number of sizes, 1.25 oz, 2.0 oz, 50 oz and 25#. The smaller pouches could serve airline needs.
When did “nut allergies” become a thing? Because I never heard of such a thing growing up. Now it’s like “you can’t bring peanut butter sandwiches to school!” I went to a large school growing up. We all ate peanut butter. Nobody dropped dead.
Makes me wonder.
I think when you leave the United States, you have to understand that other cultures place different values on different actions. Tipping, eating turkey, or boiling water in the microwave are perfectly normal Stateside, but could elicit embarrassment at best or shock/outrage at worst in other places.
I’m not saying that a person’s allergy is the same as how water for your tea is heated, but clearing peanuts off of a plane might not be so common in Korea, even if perhaps it should be.
What would you do with a milk plate that came in contact with meat? Would you bury it, or just wash it and call it a day?
Agreed with some of the comments here – while I am sympathetic to the brothers’ allergy towards peanuts, can’t really blame the airline for taking the route they did. It’s a tough situation regardless, but maybe some advanced planning (and appropriate carrier rerouting) might have avoided the situation for the boys.
Korean airline.was more responsible than the parents of these two kids. First, they are both minors, one of which has severe allergies to peanuts. Should an unforseen anaphylactic reaction occur, they won’t have any legal guardians with them. Second, even if the airline and the cabin crew decide not to serve snacks and meals with peanuts in them, what stops the passengers from bringing their own snacks (with peanuts) let alone from eating them. The risk factor was far too great. The airline did the right thing as anaphylatic shock is no joke.
We once had a person with a very severe allergy on board and since the catered food may have contained traces of that ingredient, no food was served at all (on a European flight of two hours).
I was not amused.
The airlines do overkill on PEANUT allergies but Dog or Cat allergies You better bring your EPI pen because they will not get rid of DOG and Cats
0.6% of the population is allergic to peanuts. And 0.5% to tree nuts. I’m allergic to cumin. A boy allergic to all dairy products recently died in England. Perhaps airlines should not allow any food on airplanes.