Health & Wellness

New Rules Change Air Travel for Those with Food Allergies

New government regulations say parents can board early to clean seating area.

A new set of government regulations means major changes for parents, or anybody else traveling with a passenger who has severe food allergies.

According to the New York Times, Department of Transportation regulators found that American Airlines violated the Air Carrier Access Act in 2016, when they did not grant a mother the chance to wipe down and clean her seating area before her child, who had severe nut and seed allergies, boarded .

The ACAA is roughly equivalent to the Americans with Disabilities Act, but focuses on airline travel. The DOT ruled that food allergies, which can be potentially life-threatening, constitute a disability and that airlines must make appropriate accommodations. That includes allowing a parent to board early to clean their seating area.

"Until now, food-allergy passengers' safety was beholden to the mood of a particular flight crew," Lianne Mandelbaum, who blogs about her travels with her son who has severe food allergies, told the New York Times. "When the decision came down, I sat in my car and cried for an hour."

Each airline currently has different policies about serving nuts on flights, and responding to requests not to do so if somebody has an allergy. If you need special accommodations, it is best to check with the airline in advance of your flight to discuss possibilities.

Exact data is not available, but one study estimates that allergic reactions constitute less than four percent of in-flight medical emergencies .

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