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A British woman 'felt totally discriminated' after being 'kicked off' her flight because she had a nut allergy.
Back in December last year, Sophie Draper was planning to fly from London Heathrow to JFK airport in New York with American Airlines, alongside her boyfriend Pete.
Flying to the states is already a stressful ordeal, but the 26-year-old had the added complication of a nut allergy. Ordinarily, like others would do, she'd simply alert any appropriate staff to her allergy in case it affected her food choices during the flight. Alas, the airline allegedly took umbrage with her condition and chucked her off.
Getting kicked-off an American Airlines flight because of my nut allergy (and why they are a dangerous airline for people with food allergies) ✈️🥜— Sophie Draper (@EnergySoph) February 6, 2022
The first red flag came when she was booking the flight, where she tried to inform the airline of her allergy - but there was no option to do so. When they checked in, she was advised to speak to the staff at the gate, who looked a bit confused when Draper explained her allergy.
After speaking to the head of the cabin crew, she was told that staff are 'contractually obliged to serve hot mixed nuts in first and business class' and that it was 'against company policy' to make any announcements regarding allergies. Draper's allergy means she could risk anaphylaxis if she inhaled any nut substance, so even removing the nuts from economy wouldn't be sufficient.
and “it was against company policy” to make an announcement about any food allergies on the aircraft. I was absolutely stunned that in 2021, with the number of fatal instances from nut allergy surfers flying, that this was their heartless policy. (6/16)— Sophie Draper (@EnergySoph) February 6, 2022
'American Airlines made me feel like my health and safety and that of others with severe food allergies is not important. I have no control over my nut allergy and the danger it presents to my life if I were to go into anaphylaxis,' she told the Huffington Post.
'Adults and children with severe nut allergies already face many barriers to travel and experiences, the least airlines could do is take this health condition seriously by making appropriate announcements and replacing nuts with another snack.'
When her boyfriend asked what would happen if she suffered an allergic reaction on the flight, one staff member allegedly said, 'He knows how to use your EpiPen, right?'
'I broke down in tears. I felt totally discriminated against for a health condition I have no control over,' Draper said. Fortunately, some staff members were more sympathetic, and escorted her to the British Airlines desk to re-arrange her flight.
In NYC we spent hours on the phone with @bookingcom who we booked the flights through to change our flights home. They didn't understand the reason for needing to change flights & denied responsibility. Finally we got rebooked with BA direct after many hours also on hold (14/16)— Sophie Draper (@EnergySoph) February 6, 2022
'They stopped serving all nut products, made multiple announcements about there being a passenger with a nut allergy, and personally spoke with all passengers within a number of rows of me,' she said.
In response to Draper's story, an American Airlines spokesperson said, 'Protecting the health and safety of those who fly with us is our priority, and it’s essential to our purpose of caring for our customers as they travel.
'We regret that we disappointed Ms. Draper and her travel partner during this trip, and our team has reached out to apologise and hear more about their experience.'
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