Last June, the Department of Transportation surveyed members of the public about a potential ban of peanuts being served on planes. The three options being debated included a complete ban on peanut products in the air, a ban on serving them if a passenger has placed an advance request for a peanut-free flight, or a requirement for peanut-free ‘buffer zones,’ meaning those seated around severely allergic passengers would not be able to eat peanuts during the flight
Don’t expect the skies to be peanut-free anytime soon. As it turns out, a 1999 law protects the rights of airlines to offer passengers peanuts as a snack, according to CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/04/20/peanuts.on.planes/index.html?hpt=T2). . As a result of this law, the Department of Transportation recently announced that it will not be making a peanut policy, at least without more research.
The law requires the government to conduct a scientific study before restricting the serving of peanuts. Before restricting in-flight peanut snacks, a study must be conducted to determine the level of risk faced by those with severe peanut allergies when peanuts are served as the in-flight snack.
While the government cannot impose peanut restrictions on airlines without this study, some airlines have already developed their own policies. Some no longer serve peanuts, either to protect allergy sufferers or as a cost-cutting measure. Others create peanut-free buffer zones if requested by the passenger. Others, however, state outright that they can’t guarantee peanut-free flights or that an allergic passenger will not come into contact with peanuts while in the air. This lack of certainty makes many with peanut allergies wary of flying.