Complaint: AA Discriminates Against People with Food Allergies

AA Discriminates

Complaint: AA Discriminates Against People with Food Allergies

A federal complaint filed against American Airlines alleges that their policy on pre-boarding is discriminatory toward people with allergies.

Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) alleges, in a complaint to the Department of Transportation, that American Airlines’ policy for preboarding violates federal laws.  The complaint alleges that American’s policy that explicitly states that people with food allergies cannot preboard is a violation of the Air Carrier Access Act.  That law prohibits discrimination based on a physical or mental disability.

FARE explains the complaint,

Individuals and families managing food allergies pre-board to wipe down seating areas, tray tables and armrests so they can help minimize their exposure to food allergens – just one step in safeguarding against potentially life-threatening reactions. As stated in the complaint, by enforcing and maintaining a discriminatory policy on its website and in communications with travelers, American Airlines is not only denying federally protected rights, but misleading passengers about their legal rights.

“Through our filing of this complaint, we are calling on the DOT to take enforcement action and calling for a full retraction of this discriminatory policy,” said James R. Baker, MD, CEO and chief medical officer at FARE. “We also request mandatory training for airline staff to help ensure they do not continue to discriminate against members of the food allergy community.”

“The law is clear — airlines must allow pre-boarding for individuals with food allergies who need to wipe down and secure their seating area,” said disability rights attorney Mary Vargas. “American Airlines, in denying this right, is in blatant violation of law. DOT must step in and take action.”

The complaint was filed after a family tried to preboard an American Airlines flight last month at Washington airport.  The family was denied preboarding for the their 7-year old daughter who has multiple food allergies.

American Airlines did not respond to NBC’s request for a comment and they also said they had not yet seen the complaint.


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