Photo by Thinkstock
An 11-year-old boy was reportedly prohibited from boarding an American Airlines flight on Sunday after his parents asked that flight attendants make an announcement about his severe peanut allergy.
Daniel Levitan was flying from Florida, where his family was on vacation, back home to England. At the gate, Levitan’s parents told an employee about their son’s allergy, and asked if an announcement could be made requesting that passengers refrain from eating peanuts on the flight. “After refusing to help us she then asked what the worst case scenario would be,” Daniel’s mom, Judith, told the Daily Mail. “We told him he had his steroids, antihistamines, and adrenaline with him if anything happened but the worst-case scenario would be that his throat closed and the plane would have to land so he could get medical attention.” At that point, flight attendants asked for a “fit to fly” medical certificate, Judith said. Since they didn’t have one, Daniel was barred from the flight.
“The pilot even came out and said he had no problems making an announcement,” Judith said. “But the woman at the gate and the head office wouldn’t have any of it. They cancelled our tickets and we were driven to a hotel. Daniel was left mortified and embarrassed from being made a spectacle of and he thought he’d ruined the holiday.” The Levitans were able to reschedule and get on a flight two days later, though the staff on that flight also refused to make an announcement.
Daniel Levitan, third from left, and his family on vacation in Florida. Photo courtesy SWNS.com
When Daniel was just 1 he had to be rushed to the hospital after a severe reaction to peanuts. Since then, his parents have kept him away from the nuts and he’s been fine, save for a few minor rashes. The Levitans say they gave advance warning to British Airways, who arranged the American Airlines flights, and were told it wouldn’t be a problem as long as they alerted the staff on board at the time of flying. But even on the way from England to the U.S, after the staff made the announcement, the Levitans say they were told that “Americans have the right to eat nuts.”
While American Airlines doesn’t hand out small packets of peanuts on its flights anymore, they do serve warm nuts in first class and allow passengers to bring on their own food.
On the flight back to England, Judith said she told nearby passengers about her son’s allergy. Still, a passenger seated behind the family decided to eat a bag of nuts, causing Daniel to have an anxiety attack, his mother said. “He was crying and panicking and I’ve never seen him like that,” Judith said. “He was completely panicked about having an allergic reaction because of everything that had gone on.”
Judith said the incident has left Daniel feeling self-conscious and anxious about his allergy. “My son has been left with a complex about his allergies following the ordeal, despite us always telling him it would not affect his life,” she said.
American Airlines didn’t respond to Yahoo Parenting’s request for comment but provided the following statement to the Daily Mail:
“The safety of our passengers is always our primary concern. In line with the US Department of Transport (DOT 14 CFR Part 382.23), in cases where there is reasonable doubt that an individual can complete a flight safely, without requiring extraordinary medical assistance during the flight, we may request a medical certificate. This can apply to an allergy that is considered extremely severe. For the Levitan family, we were able to provide a hotel voucher for the 4 Jan and they were rebooked — at no extra cost — on a flight home at the earliest possible occasion.”