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American Airlines will allow fliers with nut allergies to board early to wipe down their seating area

American Airlines will allow fliers with nut allergies to board early to wipe down their seating area
Passengers line up to board American Airlines 2381 flight to Orlando at Los Angeles International Airport. American Airlines will begin in December to allow fliers with nut allergies to board early. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Passengers with nut allergies soon will be able to board American Airlines flights early to give them time to wipe down their seats and tray tables to get rid of nut crumbs or dust.

Food allergies have become a growing concern in the airline industry. In August. Southwest Airlines stopped serving peanuts to passengers, even though the snack had become a popular marketing gimmick for the Dallas carrier.

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American Airlines joins Delta, Southwest and United Airlines in allowing fliers with nut allergies to board early when they notify gate agents at the terminal.

In addition, Delta has stopped in-flight service of foods that contain peanuts when a passenger who is allergic is on board. On those flights, attendants also make a cabin announcement, asking passengers not to open peanut packages they may have brought with them.

The new boarding policy at American Airlines begins Dec. 12. American said it no longer serves peanuts but cannot guarantee that passengers won’t be exposed to peanuts or other tree nuts during a flight.

“We strongly encourage those with allergies to take all necessary medical precautions before flying,” American Airlines spokesman Curtis Blessing said.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, a nonprofit advocacy group, praised the move by American Airlines, calling it “overdue.”

“We encourage all airlines to do the same,” spokeswoman Angel Waldron said.

She noted, however, that airlines face a tougher challenge addressing passengers who are allergic to animals while continuing to serve people who fly with service or emotional support animals. Waldron said both groups are protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act.

A simple solution, she said, would be for airlines that are notified when they are carrying a passenger with animal allergies to seat that flier several rows away from the animal.

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