Last week, I read an article that really stuck in my mind. It was one of those airline-said-she-said stories that ended with a passenger getting thrown off a flight.
It really stuck with me because of one specific item in the article.
Basically, a woman did not want to sit next to a dog in first class, but she did not want to be relocated out of first class. The coverage of this story revolved around her creating a situation that could not be solved. (I want to be moved, but not where you can actually move me).
She says she’s “allergic to animals” and asked a flight attendant for help getting re-seated. They offered her another seat in the back of the cabin, but there was a dog in the seat next to that one too so she declined.
That’s when she had an unexpected problem.
“I said to a[.. flight attendant] that I hope we don’t need to make an unplanned stop to which she replied ‘we don’t want that to happen’ I replied that I didn’t want that to happen either.”
Now, you might think that mentioning an allergy would result in a crew bending over backwards for you. After all, that’s what happens in restaurants and even classrooms these days.
But think of it from the airline crew’s perspective. A restaurant won’t have to emergency land if you accidentally eat a peanut. An airplane will. If you have an allergy, crew members see you as a risk factor on that flight.
But it makes sense when you look at cases where people downplayed their allergy and airplanes had to emergency land. Like in this case, a woman is suing United after someone opened a bag of peanuts on a plane, causing a reaction so strong, they had to divert.
I’m not saying that the airline in this particular situation was right (or wrong for that matter). But overall, using an allergy as a trump card will not end well for you. Of course, if you do have a life-threatening allergy, speak up.
Just be prepared for the solution to be moving you to another flight–not taking care of the allergy source.