Thursday, June 17, 2010

Flying the peanut-free skies?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 10:30 AM

click to enlarge Airplane peanuts and a bad paperback are a classic combo.
  • Airplane peanuts and a bad paperback are a classic combo.

I've been on flights from three separate airlines in the past month. When the flight attendant offered me snacks, I was amazed that peanuts were still among the choices.

There are nut-free rooms at my daughter's day care. Food labels are peppered with warnings that packaged goods may have come into contact with peanuts or other tree nuts. But I can still struggle to tear open that tiny foil-sealed container of peanuts while my elbows are pinned to my sides in a middle seat.

Back on the ground in Kansas City, I learned that the classic airline bag of peanuts may be going the way of free checked luggage. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced that it was considering restrictions or a ban on airlines serving peanuts, in part to allay the concerns of those with peanut allergies.

The peanut industry is understandably a bit upset by a potential ban on peanuts, as evidenced by Martin Kanan's comments in an Associated Press story:

"The peanut is such a great snack and such an American snack," says Martin Kanan, CEO of the King Nut Companies, an Ohio company that packages the peanuts served by most U.S. airlines. "What's next? Is it banning peanuts in ballparks?"
Continental, United, Jet Blue and U.S. Airways have all stopped giving out peanuts voluntarily. The U.S. Department of Transportation is looking into whether a ban is appropriate or if passengers with peanut allergies could request that peanuts not be served or perhaps sit in a designated "peanut free" zone.

But where does it end? Delta offers Peanut M&Ms as a snack. Passengers are free to bring a container of peanuts or peanut-based dish on board. Would peanuts join the banned-substance list alongside liquids in containers larger than three ounces?

Get ready to pick up the phone, Pringles. You're about to be very popular.

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