Airline Accused of Endangering Teen With Nut Allergy

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At a time when many airlines are working to accommodate and protect travelers with nut allergies, some airlines are not, and that’s all too clear from a recent travel experience by one teen.

The Weston family had booked their flights between Britain and Peru with British Airways and were meant to fly home with Iberia, British Airways’ sister airline, on October 29, 2018.

One member of the family, Isaac Weston, 13, suffers from a severe allergy to nuts and carries an EpiPen at all times to counter anaphylactic shock. Even touching a nut could potentially be fatal for Isaac.

Upon boarding the Iberia flight, the Weston family asked the cabin crew to not serve snacks with nuts during the flight, but the cabin crew refused.

“The stewardess said it isn’t company policy. I told them he could die and was told to stop being hysterical,” Leona told the Mirror.

The crew also refused to notify passengers of Isaac’s allergy, even though the family was assured by British Airways that the Iberia cabin crew would. After a 10-minute argument with the flight attendants, the family of six walked off the plane in tears.

Isaac’s sister Leona said that the family had never had an issue with other airlines asking passengers not to eat nuts and that it was “a small price to pay for a child’s life.”

Leona claimed that Isaac was embarrassed and upset by the encounter.

“It’s a matter of life and death – he isn’t deliberately being difficult,” Leona explained.

The family booked another flight home with Latam Airlines two days later, an airline that did make the allergy announcement. The new flight and two-day hotel booking cost the Westons an extra £6,000 (or $7,657 USD).

British Airways was involved in a food allergy death earlier this year when 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who was allergic to sesame, died on one of the airline’s flights due to a labeling error from a baguette she ate onboard.

Leona said, “You’d think BA and its affiliated companies would be hyper-aware of anything relating to allergies. This feels like an example of a big corporation ignoring little people.”

“Staying on that plane with nuts being freely served would have put my little brother’s life at risk. Even if it’s not standard policy, it would have been no issue to just make the announcement.”

“Isaac’s life is full of risk and fear, he can’t control it and has to adapt so much to his surroundings. You wouldn’t treat a wheelchair-user the way he was,” she added.

Bowl of nuts: A bowl of nuts. (photo via iStock / Getty Images Plus / ThitareeSarmkasat)

While the Weston family says that they notified Iberia’s sister airline, British Airways of Isaac’s allergy, Iberia said they weren’t notified.

A spokesman said: “If it is a severe allergy, Iberia’s medical service would need to be involved and might even need a report from the customer’s doctor to advise our staff.”

“The customers left the aircraft while the purser went to the cabin to tell the flight captain about the customers’ behaviour when they were told that they couldn’t guarantee a ‘peanut free environment’. We would like to apologize for the inconvenience.”

Isaac’s sister and mother complained to British Airways within a few days of their experience but have yet to receive an apology or refund from the airline.

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