Family departing from Provo says they were kicked off flight over son’s peanut allergy

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PROVO, Utah -- A California couple said they were kicked off their flight out of Provo after telling a flight attendant their son has a peanut allergy.

Kyson and Sara Dana said they were flying out of Provo Monday afternoon and were heading to Oakland, California. The couple and their two-year old son, Theo, call the Bay Area home.

In a Skype interview on Wednesday, Kyson Dana said as they stepped through the door, his wife alerted the flight attendant to Theo's allergy.

"My son has a peanut allergy, is there anything you can do, like can you not serve peanuts around us, is there anything you can do to help accommodate for that?" he said, relaying what his wife asked the flight attendant.

The couple told FOX 13 News Theo had just gone into anaphylactic shock over the weekend before their flight after accidentally ingesting an almond. They said they were armed with an epinephrine pen, which is used to help those with severe allergies, and wipes to sanitize their seats against traces of nuts.

He said the Allegiant flight attendant immediately told the couple that she didn't recommend they fly on the plane.

"My wife said, 'We're obviously flying on the plane, and we recognize the risks. We have an EpiPen with us,'" he recounted.

Dana said they continued on to their seats, put off by the interaction and flight attendant's apparent attitude. They wiped their seats down with the sanitation wipes and got settled in. A second flight attendant, Dana said, came up and asked passengers around them to avoid eating peanuts and everyone agreed to it.

"And it seemed like the situation was resolved," he said.

But a few minutes later, he said, "A third flight attendant comes to us and says, 'We've spoken to... the pilot, and we are going to have you removed from the plane.'"

Dana said the flight team told the family they consulted with a medical professional, and decided it wasn't safe to let them fly. The three unloaded from the plane, missed their flight home and wondered why the airline took such serious measures.

"I think they were being unreasonable," said allergist Dr. Kay Walker, about Allegiant Air.

An American Board of Allergy and Immunology Certified allergist, Dr. Kay said hearing the story as the couple relayed it, also left her surprised. Dr. Walker said it's safe to fly with a peanut allergy, as long at the passenger and their family take the right precautions.

She recommends passengers alert the airline, wipe the seat area down with sanitation wipes, and avoid eating airline food.

"The odor of peanut will not harm you," she explained. "The dust, when it settles, could possibly harm you--even though that is also rare."

Though she doesn't know the exact situation, she said it appeared the family took the same steps she advises her clients to take.

FOX 13 reached out to Allegiant Air, and a representative said they are looking into the situation and will reach back out when there is more information.

The Dana family said they complained and Allegiant sent them this response that said in part:

"On behalf of the entire Allegiant team, please allow me to offer my sincere apology for the inconveniences this incident has caused for you and your family. We regret that you were denied boarding due to any misunderstanding regarding the severity of your child’s peanut allergy. I realize that medical issues can be highly challenging. We just wanted to make sure you arrived home safely."

The Dana family said, even with the apology, they would like to see policy changes when it comes to how those with allergies are treated on flights.

In the end, the family did make it home safely. They said a generous Provo Airport worker secured them a new flight at no cost and with a different airline, then personally drove them to the Salt Lake City International Airport to fly home.

27 comments

  • bob

    When you demand that society conform to your child’s needs, and constantly remind us that the slightest hint of exposure to peanuts can be deadly, you have to expect that an airline which cannot guarantee the child’s safety will refuse to let him fly.

    They gave you what you say you wanted. Now you’re complaining.

    • BOB's Dad

      Bob nailed it. Imagine the article and lawsuit. Airline sued after telling family it was safe to fly. Plane had to make emergency landing for peanut allergy, blah blah blah

    • Jesse

      They did exactly what a doctor recommends you do. If I had a kid with an allergy I would do what doctors recommend. Also they were JUST in the ER because of this allergy. You can’t fault them for gently alerting the airline to the situation.

      • bob

        I’m not. And because an airline cannot allow a passenger on a plane when they can’t keep that passenger safe, the airline did exactly the right thing.

      • Dr Friend to BOB's Dad

        The family was moved to different seats, but airport medical services determined it was unsafe for the child to fly and the family was asked to deplane. — So 2 months after this airline was in the news for not being sensitive to a child’s allergy.. the airline was told that a child who went into shock from an allergy to peanuts was boarding the plane. By sharing such story , you have to accept what the pilot of the AIRPLANE says…not your allergist.
        So what happens when the child is 30,000 ft in the air and has an issue? If the allergist says it is ok, she can buy a plane and offer a niche service to allergy sensitive people. No dogs, no fragrance, no nuts.

  • brdprey

    ok so you want everyone to make a change because your child has a said malfunction?
    the best thing you could have done was be a parent.
    what i am saying all you had to do was not give them the peanuts. this is not rocket science.
    i have yet to hear you broke out in hives because someone had peanuts on the breath.

    • danijack

      People actually DO go into anaphylactic shock just “because someone had peanuts on the breath.” You should research it before you go talking about stuff you don’t know about. =)

  • bob

    My own child has a LOT bigger problem than mere peanut allergies. I have never, and will never, demand that the world change to accommodate him.

    Reasonable accommodations to allow him to access public buildings, yet, but an airline would have to reconfigure an entire aircraft to allow him to fly. So he won’t be flying. It’s simple.

  • victor

    i was at this flight !!! i was wondering why the flight was dalayed and this couple with the child left the plane. interesting thing is they dont just give snacks out like southwest airlines, $3 for snacks and $2 for drinks i usually don’t eat on the provo to oakland flight. i suppose it would have been better if they asked if they served peanuts instead of “is there anything you can do, like can you not serve peanuts around us, is there anything you can do to help accommodate for that?” could i ask the flight crew that i am claustraphobic is there anyway to make the seats next to me and the rows in front and behind me free of passengers? it sounds like the parents where prepaired by carrying an epi pen but i guess to be sure of their kids safety maybe they could have driven to their destination instead, if the allergy was that severe.

    • victor

      i would just like to add that the flight crew has been super nice and they’re usually the same crew at least the 10 times that i have flown out of provo and oakland with allegiantair since november.

    • BobThePeanutFarmer

      Victor, I agree with the “claustrophobia” argument. I’m going to use that the next time I board a flight. I might also use, “Flight Attendant, I can’t fly with the left-winged-liberal-myopia. Will you please ask all the liberals to leave the plan?” “When do you draw the line.” The answer to these parents, don’t fly; drive or don’t travel. These parents are like all these university students who demand “safe places.” People, we live in a world with other people.

    • Machine

      Wow. Claustrophobia? Really? That’s ridiculous! When you step on a plane you know it is an enclosed environment, that’s a given. Peanuts are not. Peanuts are necessary for a plane to fly. An enclosed pressurized cabin is. Your argument is off the mark and just plain ridiculous.

  • Peter

    BobThePeanutFarmer
    When I first read the article, my initial impulse was why in the heck would you want to fly if there was a possibility of your child being harmed. If he were my child, I would get in a car and drive before I put him in any such danger. And, I would never ask the flight crew and the rest of the passengers to be responsible for my son’s safety. How irresponsible you are as a parent? If they let you fly and something happened to you child, you’d probably be the one to file a lawsuit and name the airline, the flight crew and every passenger as the defendants, collectively. Makes me sick.

  • Randy

    I want to hear more about this worker! This wasn’t an ideal situation but this worker went way out of the way. Thats what you should report on.

  • Stella

    It is not reasonable to prohibit the millions of people with food allergies from flying. Flying can be done safely with a little preparation and cooperation. It’s no huge inconvenience to forgo nuts for a couple of hours on a flight. Anyone who grumbles about that is simply selfish or not thinking things through. My son has a severe peanut allergy and we must fly to received desensitization treatment (oral immunotherapy). The treatment is not available where we live (Hawaii) so we must fly to California. This treatment will allow us to stop avoiding the allergen; my son will take a daily dose and be able to eat freely once treatment is done. To deny us this life saving treatment by prohibiting us from flying would be so wrong yet that is what many here have advocated. Time to educate yourselves on the topic or drop out of the conversation. For the people who were kicked off the flight, Dr. Jain in Fremont is an amazing allergist located in Fremont. Join the Facebook groups OIT 101 and Private Practice OIT to learn more. OIT has been proven safe and effective by many studies.

  • Jon

    An airline cannot make accommodations for every thing and everyone or they’d never get off the ground. And how do they control passengers who may bring snacks with peanuts in it? Like Dr. Kay said, it’s ok to fly with a peanut allergy as long as the passenger and their family take the right precautions. It’s not up to the airline (or theater, or restaurant or any other business) to cater to the person with a peanut allergy. The airline acted properly.

  • anotherbob

    I’d like to hear the airlines version of the story. Honestly I think the news is over sensationalizing what happened by using the word “kicked” off. It sounds more that the family alerted them to their sons issue and by the time they were seated the plane decided it was best for them to not take that flight, the end. I don’t think either party did anything wrong and it doesn’t appear the family was “demanding society confirm to their childs needs” as Bob stated, they were merely giving them an FYI to make the flight as uneventful as possible.

    • danijack

      As a friend of both someone who works for Allegiant and the family and receiving information about it from both sides, I can say that Allegiant WAS in the wrong and has gone above and beyond to try to apologize.

  • Lucy Gwendoline

    Aren’t you suppose to notify airlines of any allergies when you purchase a ticket so they can cater towards the allergy? They’re at fault for not providing notice of the allergy beforehand.

  • Cosmic Sunshine

    When I read this article, I was furious – at these parents. If your child has a peanut allergy, the solution is to not feed him any peanuts. It is really that simple. Instead, these self-absorbed narcissists needed to make sure that everyone on board knew about their special little snowflake and asked to make absurd accomodations. People flying have enough problems of their own without having to deal with this kind of stuff. And the result was predictable. They were not kicked off the flight. Rather they were told as diplomaticaly as possible that they were being a pain in the a**.

    • Stella

      If you don’t have a food allergy or a loved with a food allergy it does appear that simple. But it’s not. Very, very small amounts of peanut can kill those who are allergic very quickly. I’m talking smaller than a grain of sand, particles that are small enough to become airborne. It would be really easy for everyone to simply refrain from eating nuts on planes. It would be very difficult for millions if there were unable to travel by air. I’ll bet you wouldn’t say that people in wheelchairs shouldn’t be accommodated on planes. Life threatening food allergies are also a disability covered by the ADA.

  • georgeboy99

    The airline made the right move. Once the doors are shut and the planes in the air the airline owns the situation. I don’t blame them for not wanting to assume the risk.

    The mother’s comment, “We’re obviously flying on the plane, and we recognize the risks. We have an EpiPen with us,” probably scared the crap out of the crew. They’re not medical professionals and discussing the potentially required emergency response is un-nerving. They have enough other stuff to worry about.

    It was also reported that after they were removed from the mother told a news outlet the following, “This incident really opened our eyes to how difficult airlines are for those traveling with nut allergies,” Dana said. “We would like to advocate that all airlines stop serving nuts on board and put up signs stating that airplanes are a nut-free zone. We understand that they can’t guarantee safety for those with allergies, but they can at least make a small effort.”…one might say they embraced the idea of a “nut free” environment by removing her from the plane!

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