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Friday, January 8, 2010

Peanuts may be cute, but not funny

Vacations usually inspire joy and feelings of jubilation in most.  For our family, the thought of vacations are stressfull.  How will we get there?  Do we have to fly?  If so, how do we handle the nut issue? I wont even get on food during the vacation, I'm just focusing on the flight.

My 9 year old son has a severe, life and death allergy to peanuts, treenuts and most legumes.  Many people who dont know anyone with such an allergy, innocently offer you the advice 'so, just avoid nuts'.  Sounds so simple...What people dont realize is the peanuts and treenuts leave deadly residue, and oil traces.  They have minute particles which get circulated in the aircraft oxygen, and are breathed in.   Even 1/2000 of a peanut can cause death in the anaphylactic.  Imagine that. 

Last year we decided to do a family trip to Disney world, quite a distance from my Toronto area home.  We decided the drive the 30 or so hours rather than risk the 3-4 hour flight.  The prior year we flew to Ireland from Buffalo via NYC, and while both airlines we took were quite helpful (Air Lingus and Jet Blue), it wasnt their policies, but their people which were wonderful.  We had chosen this route/airlines after phoning numerous airlines and researching who would be the most accommodating.   Regardless, it was still stressful.  Numerous times they had to announce that a little boy had a life/death allergy to nuts, and to please refrain from opening/eating nuts in the flight, but it was still quite stressful.  A lot of people actually resent their 'civil liberties' being harnessed.  The woman next to my son on the Buffalo/NYC arm of our trip (Jet Blue) actually was on the phone during all the notifications, and only heard the last one after she hung up.  She looked at me (not realizing that the kid next to her was THE BOY they were refering to) and said she was surprised that they didnt announce it sooner because she was about to open a bag of peanuts she had in her purse.  She was wonderful and didnt open her nuts, but not all passengers are that considerate.  You meet all kinds of people, and when your childs life is at stake, you get quite emotional and edgy.  Its very difficult to remain calm when dealing with people who think its more important to eat a bag of nuts on a plane than for your child to keep breathing.

Anyway, yesterday there was a court order for Air Canada to create a nut free buffer zone for its passengers.  The courts acknowledged that peanut/treenut allergies are a disability (believe me, its not as simple as it sounds) and that AC had to accommodate its passengers so that they could take a flight without having to lock themselves into a washroom just to breath (as was the case which brought this issue to the Canadian courts).   Whippeeee!!!!  I'm sorry for all you people who love nuts, because before my sons allergy, but eating nuts on a plane is a conditioned habit.  The airlines started handing out nuts as a cheap alternative to meals.  Please eat your nuts at home or when you land, or before you take off.  My family thanks you, and my son thanks you with his life! Yippeee!!!!

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