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This is Nuts, No If Ands Or Buffer

The point is you have to be medically approved to have a buffer zone set up for you, NOT MEDICALLY APPROVED TO BOARD the plane. This may be a small detail to airline personnel unapprised of the nuances of the new policy nor the reason for its existence in the first place, but a colossal detail when you’re a self-declared allergic mom looking for a courtesy at the gate.

The truth is I already hated this policy before my Allergygate Scandal. Despite Air Canada’s stated interest in forming “a policy to accommodate people with severe peanut and nut allergies,” to me, the new formal policy seems to have the opposite effect. It shows little understanding of the life-threatening risk of anaphylaxis and serves more as a deterrent to the allergic flyer than a protective measure.

The risk of exposure is everywhere on an airplane, which as we all know is not an environment easily exited nor sanitized between flights.

And here’s the newsflash of the year: People who eat nuts on planes sometimes leave their seats. They touch surfaces and they go to the loo, just as allergic people do. Flight attendants serving and clearing nuts also move around and use the same hands to serve everybody, no matter where they’re sitting. So much for the “nut-free” zone.

After the Miami experience, I wrote to Air Canada and quickly received a reply from customer service head honcho Michael Tremblay, who apologized and assured me that peanut- and nut-allergic people do not need medical clearance to fly. He also promised to track down the misguided Miami employee for a little re-training.

Tremblay writes that “medical clearance is required if a customer wishes the [buffer] zone to be set up but this service is optional.” That I was well aware of, but good to hear the confirmation.

The big question is: “If I don’t opt for the buffer zone, but choose to tell the flight crew that my son is allergic in hopes of receiving a courtesy announcement and some additional accommodation, can I actually be kicked off or prevented from boarding?”

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Allergic Living acknowledges the assistance of the OMDC Magazine Fund, an initative of the Ontario Media Development Cooperation.