The news that Southwest Airlines is removing peanuts from their inflight snack offerings beginning August 1st 2018 has been greeted with some degree of nostalgic wistfulness, but the iconic (at least for Southwest) snack, once associated with one of the airline’s first and most ubiquitous marketing campaigns, can be and has been a hazard for those with peanut allergies in a closed environment like the cabin of a 737.
It’s possible that the move was finally pushed from concept into policy because a nine year old boy with very severe class six peanut allergies suffered a severe reaction to the peanuts being served aboard a flight from Atlanta to Houston. The boy’s family claims they made Southwest aware of his condition prior to boarding the flight. The boy was treated with an epinephrine pen and fortunately he recovered without complications.
After the boy’s allergic reaction aboard the flight, Southwest’s comments mirrored the company’s policies at the time:
“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.”
Southwest’s more recent comments about the decision to remove peanuts from their snack offerings:
“Peanuts forever will be part of Southwest’s history and DNA. However, to ensure the best on-board experience for everyone, including customers with peanut-related allergies, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue serving peanuts on all flights beginning August 1.
We hope that our free pretzels (and our wonderful portfolio of free snacks on longer flights) served along with our legendary Southwest Hospitality will please customers who might be nostalgic or sad to see peanuts go. Our ultimate goal is to create an environment where all customers—including those with peanut-related allergies—feel safe and welcome on every Southwest flight.”
Other airlines have removed peanuts from their inflight offerings. Delta recently shifted their available nut choice from peanuts to almonds. Despite the nostalgic appeal of peanuts for their passengers, Southwest’s decision to remove peanuts from their inflight offerings was the right thing to do.