The era of free peanuts are coming to an end on Southwest flights as a result of food allergies, and the airline will no longer be offering those small bags of salted peanuts you have come to expect.
CBS News reports that the airline released a statement to say that beginning August 1, there will no longer be peanuts on Southwest flights.
“Peanuts forever will be part of Southwest’s history and DNA. However, to ensure the best onboard experience for everyone, especially for customers with peanut-related allergies, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue serving peanuts on all flights beginning August 1.”
Several million Americans (4 percent of the population) have some kind of food allergies, and peanut allergies are among the most common. Many people with peanut allergies don’t need to ingest peanuts to have an allergic reaction; they can just come in contact with something or someone that has touched peanuts or peanut products.
Southwest has been asked for years to pull the small bags of peanuts from their flights, and they have finally complied. The airline will now give out free pretzels, with chips and cookies being offered on the longer Southwest flights.
Prior to pulling peanuts from their flights, Southwest asked that people with peanut allergies notify the airline when booking their flight, and hope that customers will continue to do so. Those with peanut allergies can still come aboard early to wipe down seats and trays in advance of their flight.
“Customers should still indicate their allergy when booking.”
The airline tried to make light of the new peanut policy with jokes on social media.
“We will miss the peanuts as well…They’ve worked for us for 47 years and have decided to retire. We’re still trying to figure out what peanuts do in retirement though…”
Many parents with children who have food allergies were enthusiastic about Southwest’s revised peanut policy, but Delta Airlines took advantage of Southwest’s news to announce that they still offer free peanuts on their flights.
“For years, the airline incorporated its peanut snacks in its advertising, saying airfares are so low that passengers could fly for peanuts,” wrote the Los Angeles Times.
U.S. Department of Transportation in 2010 considered making peanut-free flights a requirement, but instead, they asked each airline to create a peanut-free buffer on each flight.
While nutritionists agree that peanuts are a healthier snack than pretzels and cookies, allergic reactions during a flight, especially among children, are a good reason to eliminate peanuts on flights.