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Air Canada Ordered To Provide Nut-Free Zone 643

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-nuts dept.
JamJam writes "Air Canada has been told to create a special 'buffer zone' on flights for people who are allergic to nuts. The Canadian Transportation Agency has ruled that passengers who have nut allergies should be considered disabled and accommodated by the airline. Air Canada has a month to come up with an appropriate section of seats where passengers with nut allergies would be seated. The ruling involved a complaint from Sophia Huyer, who has a severe nut allergy and travels frequently. Ms. Huyer once spent 40 minutes in the washroom during a flight while snacks were being served."

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Air Canada Ordered To Provide Nut-Free Zone

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  • Shrimp free zone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Lode (1290856) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:10PM (#30701630)

    Should there also be a shrimp free zone for those who are allergic to shrimps, and a strawberry free zone for those who are alergic to strawberries, and maybe a sweater free zone for those who are allergic to sweaters?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:21PM (#30701780)

      A decent number of people with nuts allergies can react to particles in the air or find the smell of nuts absolutely revolting. They're also the most commonly fatal allergies. There is some iota of rationale.

      • Re:Shrimp free zone? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:24PM (#30701810)

        Many people with allergies to fur can react to particles in the air as well, or find the smell absolutely revolting. Should we ban dogs and cats from traveling in planes? Admittedly the allergy is rarely fatal--- but the peanut allergy appears not to be in this setting, either, as there is not a single documented case of someone dying due to peanut dust circulating inside an airliner.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:28PM (#30701856)
          Really, not a joke, serious proposal: can't we just force everyone to eat peanuts, lots of peanuts, and let Nature take its course? In one generation just get rid of these allergies once and for all. I prefer that to altering everyone's lives to accomodate an allergy that a tiny percentage of the population has.
          • by MrNaz (730548) * on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:34PM (#30701958) Homepage

            I also propose that anyone who receives more than a certain number of down mods be killed. That ought to fix Slashdot conversations on the double.

          • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:35PM (#30701960)

            >> Really, not a joke, modest proposal
            Fixed that for you.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            You're assuming that peanut hypersensitivity is genetic, and a dominant trait at that. It seems far more likely that genetics can at most give you a predisposition to the allergy. Environmental factors determine whether you get it or not, the genetics only determine how easily that happens.
          • Re:Shrimp free zone? (Score:4, Informative)

            by Kelson (129150) * on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:49PM (#30702140) Homepage Journal

            Really, not a joke, serious proposal: can't we just force everyone to eat peanuts, lots of peanuts, and let Nature take its course? In one generation just get rid of these allergies once and for all. I prefer that to altering everyone's lives to accomodate an allergy that a tiny percentage of the population has.

            Speaking as someone whom your proposal would kill, I'm gonna say... no.

            Besides, you're assuming that allergies are 100% genetic in origin, while current research seems to indicate a combination of genetic and environmental factors. A single generation isn't going to do it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Well, Air Canada didn't allow pets in the cabin until recently. http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090617/cabin_pets_090617/20090617 [www.ctv.ca]
        • Re:Shrimp free zone? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by KenCrandall (13860) on Friday January 08, 2010 @08:17PM (#30702510) Homepage

          Well, in my case I have an anaphylactic [wikipedia.org] reaction to cats, including dander, fur, oils, etc, so having them in the closed-circulation cabin air could indeed be fatal.

          It's especially worrisome since allergic reactions often intensify the more often they occur -- someone might not even realize that the next one could be fatal until it's 2 hours too late into a 5+ hour flight.

        • Re:Shrimp free zone? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by DJRumpy (1345787) on Friday January 08, 2010 @08:36PM (#30702684)

          Couldn't the allergic individual just wear a face mask while they were serving?

          • by Mr Thinly Sliced (73041) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:17PM (#30704038) Homepage Journal

            Couldn't the allergic individual just wear a face mask while they were serving?

            In addition to the allergy you want them to put on a stewardess costume and hand out the snacks?

            You have no heart sir, no heart.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by DJRumpy (1345787)

              So you feel the needs of the one, outweigh the needs of the many? The masks are not uncomfortable. I wear one when doing the lawn to control my allergies.

              Same principal.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TRRosen (720617)

        Pulled that out of your ass did you!

        Number of deaths due to allergic reactions to nuts in US last year according to cdc 0

        Number in last 10 years 0

        Danger is from nuts in the seats not nuts in a bag!

      • Re:Shrimp free zone? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by horatio (127595) on Friday January 08, 2010 @10:39PM (#30703764)

        There is some iota of rationale.

        No, there is not. If Ms. Huyer does not wish to adjust herself to another position in her company that requires less travel, she has plenty of alternative transportation options: car, bus, train, charter aircraft, private aircraft (she can go get her pilot's license), etc. You don't have a RIGHT to get on an airplane. What happens when someone drops a peanut on the floor and it rolls into the "buffer" zone? Is the airline going to be held responsible for not building a glass-enclosed, hermetically sealed environment?

        It is not the government's job to bring down an iron fist because ONE passenger had ONE incident where she hid in the bathroom - with full and complete knowledge that on commercial flights, they serve nuts. I'm tired of the government mandated bullshit where everyone ELSE has to accommodate, bend over for, and kiss the ass of the one. Where are all of these people on airplanes that have had violent, fatal reactions to nuts? Either she's full of shit, or all of them except for her have all found ways of dealing with it.

        FTFA:

        She wants all nuts banned from all airlines.

        I say start with her.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lena_10326 (1100441)
      I suppose there's always the alternative option of disrupting everyone's flight plans to reroute the plane and land at the nearest airport dropping off the convulsing sick patron triggered by the adjacent patron who refused to stop chomping down bag after bag of peanuts.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Conditioner (1405031)
      I bet there just going to stop serving these nuts...
    • by twitcher101 (1712418) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:30PM (#30701896)
      If they served strawberries or shrimp on planes, yes. But all we get is a bag of salted peanuts in hope we will spend $5 on a drink. Allergies that can kill are no joking matter, and a nut free zone might be a better solution to the problem than having to divert a plane because someone went into anaphylactic shock...
      • by Dipsomaniac (1102131) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:49PM (#30702144)
        "Allergies that can kill are no joking matter..."

        Oh.
        Now I understand all those dirty looks I've been getting.

      • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Friday January 08, 2010 @10:25PM (#30703678) Journal

        Allergies that can kill are no joking matter, and a nut free zone might be a better solution....

        So perhaps the best solution would to not allow these nuts with allergies on board? If their reaction is so severe as to be life threatening just from being in the same room (and an extremely well ventilated room with excellent air filtration at that) as a bag of nuts then it is clearly not safe for them to be out in public where anyone might be eating nuts. If the problem is that they are scared to be in a room with nuts because they are allergic to them then this is a psychological problem of theirs and not a medical requirement at which point it becomes reasonable to ask why I should have to give up my freedoms instead of them giving up theirs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by johnlcallaway (165670)
        I disagree. Simply put a sign on the plane and all ticketing agencies that nuts are served on board the flight. Just like they do at many restaurants.

        Someone that allergic to nuts deals with it on a regular basis. I'm really getting tired of a very small minority forcing the much larger majority to adapt.

        This is just the first step. If this gets implemented every special interest will get in line. Know all of those handicapped spots in the US?? The original intent was to provide a place so that whe
    • by bth (635955)
      There are allergies and there are allergies. None are pleasant, but some (like allergies to peanuts) can lead to anaphylaxis and death.
    • by SailorSpork (1080153) on Friday January 08, 2010 @08:09PM (#30702404) Homepage

      Stop it! I'm allergic to logic, and YOU'RE MAKING ME ITCH!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:12PM (#30701650)

    I'm allergic to idiots. Is there anywhere in Canada I will be able to travel?

  • Baby Free Zone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spun (1352) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {yranoituloverevol}> on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:12PM (#30701656) Journal

    I'm allergic to noisy babies and children who kick my seat-back. Where's my zone?

    • It's called business class.
      • by spun (1352)

        In most airliners, business class is fairly small and positioned right next to coach. While it may do away with the seat-back kickers, it won't help protect from the crying babies.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wizardforce (1005805)

      Your allergy to noisy babies and children won't kill you. A severe allergic reaction to peanuts most certainly can.

      • Re:Baby Free Zone? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:51PM (#30702172) Journal

        I understand that there are severe allergic reactions.

        I understand that some people are sensative to notice it within the same room.

        Has there ever been a case of someone being killed by a peanut in the same room?

        Or do they merely get discomforted (itchy, hot, etc) much like everyone else on the airplane?

  • And I want all nut-jobs banned from life. Good luck with that.
  • Stop serving nuts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BearRanger (945122) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:18PM (#30701738)
    Like almost all US airlines have done. Of course Ms. Huyer will then complain that everyone will be getting snacks but her... (not to make like of nut allergies, which really can be deadly. But a "nut free zone" in an enclosed space with recirculated air? Just switch to pretzels and be done with it.)
  • Wait wait, What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:21PM (#30701778) Journal

    The Canadian Transportation Agency has ruled that passengers who have nut allergies should be considered disabled and accommodated by the airline

    If they are ruling that they are disabled, should they also allow them to park in the blue spaces?

  • With the ADA in the U.S., one only has to make *reasonable* accomodations. You obviously don't have a motion-free zone who get terrible motion sickness. I'd say this request is unreasonable.

  • Pets on Air Canada (Score:3, Informative)

    by SpottedKuh (855161) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:24PM (#30701812)

    CBC story about Air Canada having to provide nut-free zones [www.cbc.ca] on account of allergies...

    ...and another CBC story about Air Canada allowing pets [www.cbc.ca] in their cabins starting in July. Err...

  • How about the wings?

  • I'm 6'5" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RoFLKOPTr (1294290) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:26PM (#30701828)

    Can I please have a special government-enforced seating zone that has an extra 6" of leg room, at no extra charge?

  • I have been on a flight where they've announced no peanuts were being distributed or sold because of someone with allergies on the fllight. Of course they may have just run out of peanuts and it sounded better than "we forgot to stock up".

    Jolyon. Oh yes, my .sig is appropriate today

  • by blueworm (425290) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:32PM (#30701922) Homepage

    Can anybody provide any real evidence that nut allergies are triggered by the "smell" of nuts? I don't think so -- as far as I know they have to be aerosolized in a cooking spray or finely crushed and thrown into the air as "nut dust". I'm betting this woman is probably just a hypochondriac who thinks she's being affected by smelling nuts when she's not. This article http://www.nationalpost.com/related/topics/story.html?id=2417934 mentions that her claim is backed up a doctor's note saying that she has a reaction when in the general vicinity of nuts, but other than that there's no real evidence for this.

    Air Canada and other organizations should first order complete medical studies on people like this to get the facts before taking action. Clearly, the public needs more evidence because special treatment for allergy sufferers and public bans of nuts are getting out of hand.

    A quick Google search reveals the beginnings of a Britannica article which also indicates that banning nuts is a bad idea since nut allergy deaths are not unacceptably higher annually than deaths from lightning strikes and bee stings, and because banning creates a climate of oversensitivity: http://www.britannica.com/bps/additionalcontent/18/35883327/Peanut-hysteria--or-is-it

    • by husker_man (473297) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:47PM (#30702114)

      Can anybody provide any real evidence that nut allergies are triggered by the "smell" of nuts?

      I can. My oldest son is extremely allergic to peanuts, almonds, and most other kinds of nuts. He has to carry an epi-pen with him wherever he goes. One day, my son's class went on a field trip to a farm. He started looking sick, and his face started to swell. Fortunately, the teacher saw it, gave him some Benadryl and he was fine for the rest of the afternoon. Turns out that the farm was near some peanut-growing farms and it was right in the midst of harvest season, so the peanut dust was in the air.

      We've also had instances where my son was near some kids at school who were having a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, and my son started getting sick. Again, Benedryl was administered, and the school made sure that if someone had peanut butter in their lunches, they had to sit at least one or two seats away. Worst case, my son had to sit at a different table (although some classmates did come and sit by him).

      It's not fun, dealing with allergies like this, but taking sensible precautions helps avoid a true life-or-death problem.

      • by demi (17616) * on Friday January 08, 2010 @08:13PM (#30702456) Homepage Journal

        I'm sorry, and I mean no offense, but that's not evidence. The problem with parents who tell these tales about how peanuts are like kryptonite to their kids or they're allergic to X in food is also he reason why we shouldn't base public policy on anecdotal evidence (there's another comment below about someone "who knows a family with a son who...")--so please don't take this as if I'm targeting you specifically or questioning he veracity of what you're relating; I'm just pointing that this is isn't how we gather evidence on public health issues and the stories told by parents shouldn't form the basis of public health policies.

        The thing is, in the scenarios you're describing, you have a son who is quite allergic to nuts, I'm going to guess because he had something with peanuts actually in it at some point, or came into contact with the oil, and after that happened a couple of times with an allergic reaction, you figured out he was allergic. And people at the school and around him basically know this, too.

        So now, when your son doesn't feel well, on a field trip, or at school, everyone looks around for the nuts. And lo and behold, you're next to a peanut farm. Or a kid at the table is having a PB&J. Or you find out his playmate had peanut butter pancakes that morning, or a snack made in a facility processing pine nuts. Or whatever. And you have your "explanation."

        Except that you don't actually know how frequently your son is exposed to "peanut dust" or "contaminated surfaces" or whatever, and doesn't have a reaction. Maybe he's allergic to something else, or maybe not. Or maybe it goes down exactly as you suspect. The problem is that in the absence of a controlled study, we just can't tell. And while it makes sense (maybe) for you to just be on the safe side with regard to nuts, it doesn't make sense to make rules, regulations and laws with significant costs for others without that peer-reviewed, study-based justification.

        Anyway, I hope people take this as the call for more information and for better study of the public health implications of allergies that it is, and not as an attack on a dad and his son, which it certainly isn't intended to be.

        • by husker_man (473297) on Friday January 08, 2010 @10:24PM (#30703676)

          I'm sorry, and I mean no offense, but that's not evidence. The problem with parents who tell these tales about how peanuts are like kryptonite to their kids or they're allergic to X in food is also he reason why we shouldn't base public policy on anecdotal evidence (there's another comment below about someone "who knows a family with a son who...")

          I'd disagree with you as to the symptoms of my son not being considered evidence (e.g. the swelling, difficulty of breath he got during these episodes). Your point, however, is correct - too many parents of kids who have these allergies get overly paranoid, and want to throw out the peanuts altogether just because. (Also, didn't feel targeted).

          Yes, he did come into contact with some peanut based foods, and the extreme sickness he got sent us to the doctors where we did get the testing done, and education for us to identify how to recognize the symptoms, and how to deal with it (e.g Benedryl/anti-histamine first, then if they start throwing up and can't keep Benedryl down or face is swelling a lot/breathing issues then apply the Epi-Pen and get to hospital).

          So now, when your son doesn't feel well, on a field trip, or at school, everyone looks around for the nuts. And lo and behold, you're next to a peanut farm. Or a kid at the table is having a PB&J. Or you find out his playmate had peanut butter pancakes that morning, or a snack made in a facility processing pine nuts. Or whatever. And you have your "explanation."

          Actually, we don't. If he has the specific symptoms of anaphylaxic shock (e.g. swelling of face, breathing, and throwing up) we treat the symptoms as we were taught. However, if he gets sick and isn't showing these symptoms, we do the normal care we would for any other normal kid (when H1N1 went through my house, we didn't go searching for the peanut bogeyman).

          Except that you don't actually know how frequently your son is exposed to "peanut dust" or "contaminated surfaces" or whatever, and doesn't have a reaction. Maybe he's allergic to something else, or maybe not. Or maybe it goes down exactly as you suspect.

          Excellent point - you're correct, we really don't know. However, in my son's case, we did have him tested (and unfortunately for him he tested out at the top of the sensitivity scale). We do take proper precautions (e.g. have some space between kids if one is having a PBJ sandwich) to make sure that he doesn't get unnecessarily exposed, but we don't worry too much about it now. However, the last thing I want to do is to ban all peanuts from everywhere - it's something that my son is aware of, and knows how to live with.

  • by ncgnu08 (1307339) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:33PM (#30701936)

    I know it is not PC to say, but this is a sad joke. People should get over themselves and stop demanding the world change around them. It is as if "only-child syndrome" is now the standard. I am starting to find myself allergic to work, bills, and anything that inconveniences me in the slightest. The plane does not bother me as I do not fly; I am allergic to paying for tickets but the airlines refuse to accommodate me. And I do not need to park in the blue spaces, as I am allergic to parking in spaces; I need to just get out of my car where I want. Now if the police would stop discriminating against me by towing my car when I leave it on the sidewalk! They will all regret it when I file a lawsuit and they learn I am allergic to verdicts against me!

    • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Friday January 08, 2010 @08:28PM (#30702612)
      If only I had mod points... Intentional or otherwise I consider your comment dead on insightful. The world is far too accommodating with respect to disjointed persons. Whether by mind, matter or both the world should not be held captive by unreasonable accommodations of such persons. If by some reason I breathed not air but ammonia I should be the one to don the EV suit not those around me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CptPicard (680154)

      Your analogies are intentionally grotesquely flawed. As someone who has lived his entire life with a fairly severe physical disability, I find your casual comparison of these matters to "anything that inconveniences you in the slightest" to be flippant and incredibly ignorant. Of course you will then answer that you aren't really interested in the distinction, as for you it is the same thing... but if this is to be discussed objectively, there should at least be a fair effort at understanding the relative s

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Sorry, but I don't understand why it's such a big deal to make such a small accommodation that could save a person's life. Are you really saying that they should be stuck at home for the rest of their lives, just because you don't want to make the most simple of accommodations for someone?

  • Nothing new here! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Old Flatulent 1 (1692076) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:34PM (#30701950)
    Flying with Air Canada [forums.army.ca] it helps if you are nuts.
  • Gattaca (Score:4, Informative)

    by omgarthas (1372603) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:37PM (#30701986)
    Those nut allergic people should be forced to watch the movie Gattaca whilst flying and thank god that fiction hasn't become reality (yet)
  • by starbugs (1670420) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:38PM (#30701998)
    According to this [www.cbc.ca] pets are now allowed on Air Canada, although many people with allergies object and can no longer fly because of this. But nuts (which don't get carried in the air as much as pet dander) are not allowed?
    Am I the only one wondering WTF?
  • by ehud42 (314607) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:45PM (#30702078) Homepage

    I wonder if some of the reactions that people with allergies have when exposure is very low are trained responses. Like Pavlov's dog, ring the bell and start salivating, smell peanut butter and start choking.

    My only basis for this is personal experience with chemo-therapy. After just a few rounds of treatments, just DRIVING to the hospital was enough to start me throwing up. It was bizzare and extremely frustrating to be sitting in the chair getting hooked up to a saline only IV and having to hurl. No matter how hard I tried to reason with myself, I was getting sick from the drugs that were no where near my body, much less in them and taking affect yet.

    My thought is that people who have had a bad experience with a real allergic reaction have very quickly and effectively trained their brain to induce the reaction response at even the smell of the allergen.

    Anyone else have similar experiences / theories about the validity of 'nut-free' zones?

    ps - just to be clear, I'm not suggesting the reaction isn't happening, but just curious if it real or trained. If trained, maybe people can be trained out of it and then live less intrusive lives. BTW, 15+ years later I'm basically fine - hospitals don't bother me much, however, there is still a certain ladies deo / perfume that makes me feel queesy.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:48PM (#30702124)

    He opens up his briefcase, pulls out a Playboy, drops his pants, and proceeds to have a wank.

    The woman is horrified.

    When the man is finished, he pulls up his pants, closes the briefcase, and then turns to the woman and asks:

    "Do you mind if I eat nuts?"

    Baba-boom-ching!

    Thank you, tip the veal, try the waitress . . . etc.

    • by PPH (736903) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:29PM (#30704136)

      The way I remember it:

      The man sneezes. He takes out a tissue, wipes his nose, then unzipps his pants, reaches in and wipes there too. After repeating this a few times, the woman asks, "What exactly is your problem with the Kleenex in the pants?".

      Rather embarrased, he replies, "I suffer from a condition where I orgasm every time I sneeze."

      After a bit, she asks, "Isn't there something you could take for that condition?"

      "Yes. Pepper."

  • by hduff (570443) <hoytduff@NoSPAM.gmail.com> on Friday January 08, 2010 @09:14PM (#30703084) Homepage Journal
    I realize this is Slashdot, dammit but peanuts are not nuts; they are legumes. However, the tendency amongst us is to lump these legumes in with actual nuts, gonads and any unrelated item that can produce a snicker. Please continue.

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