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Parents Warned Southwest of Child's Severe Allergy — Flight Attendants Still Served Peanuts

March 29, 2018
3 min read
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Parents Warned Southwest of Child's Severe Allergy — Flight Attendants Still Served Peanuts
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A nine-year-old child had a severe allergic reaction aboard a Southwest Airlines flight after peanuts were served on the plane Tuesday morning.

The child's parents said they warned the gate agents of their son Christian's severe peanut allergy when they made their reservation and before boarding the flight from Atlanta (ATL) to Houston (HOU).

“We checked in and made sure they knew about the peanut allergy,” Christian’s mom, Chelsia Calvert, told Click 2 Houston. “It was also on his original ticket.”

Despite their warnings, the family says they were still served peanuts on board the flight. " [The flight attendant] handed me some peanuts and that's when, as a mom, I just basically broke down -- 'what do you mean?'” Calvert said. “How many have been handed out?”

The Calverts said the flight attendant told them she forgot about their son's allergy.

Christian's allergy is a level six, the most severe. Peanut dust in the air can cause a reaction, and that's what happened on board the plane. His throat began to close, and his parents had to administer an EpiPen.

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“In all honesty, we were not sure what was going to happen,” Christian's father, Derrick Calvert, told Click 2 Houston. “We still had another 45 minutes at least in the air before we were able to land.”

According Southwest's disability policy, which includes allergies, "customers with disabilities are not required to provide advance notice of the need for assistance; however, doing so helps us better prepare for the number of Customers who will need our help."

Southwest Spokesperson Lisa Tiller tells TPG the airline issued an initial statement on the situation on March 27:

"We want every Customer to have a safe and enjoyable flight. Because it is nearly impossible for those who have an allergy to peanut dust to avoid triggering a reaction if peanut dust is in the air, Southwest Airlines is unable to guarantee a peanut-free or allergen-free flight. We do have procedures in place to assist our Customers with severe allergies to peanut dust and will make every attempt not to serve packaged peanuts on the aircraft when our Customers alert us of their allergy to peanut dust. For more information about options when traveling with a peanut dust allergy, click here and select allergies in the left navigation bar."

Southwest also issued a follow-up statement the next day:

"We have followed up with the appropriate Southwest teams in regards to the Calvert family’s experience on our flight yesterday. We have communicated our sincere apologies to the family and our Customer Relations Department will continue to work directly with Ms. Calvert."