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A Valentine's Day Thank You to JetBlue, From the Mom of a Child With a Peanut Allergy

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Dear JetBlue,

I realize this is a bit unorthodox, but I wanted to officially declare my love for your airline on this Valentine’s Day. You have given back to our family the gift of travel. Let me explain.

My son, Joshua, has a life-threatening peanut allergy. After a bad experience with another airline where we were told in response to declaring his peanut allergy “if you think he’s going to die, just don’t get on the plane,” we were admittedly wary about flying with him again. And then we found you…

When booking our first JetBlue flight after our traumatic airline experience, I was immediately impressed that there was a box I could check off identifying us as having a nut allergy. The reservation agent spoke kindly to me and informed us  we could request pre-boarding to wipe down our seat for past nut residue. This was a tremendous relief to me as an allergy mom. Many times, I had to fight the large crowd during general boarding to rush and clean the seat area where my son would sit and would only hope I had enough time to do a thorough job cleaning my area for past nut residue. She went on to inform me that JetBlue carries EpiPens (easy to use auto-injectors) on all its flights. I always carry my own set of auto-injectors, but it was heartening to know there was back up if necessary.

When we arrived at the airport, I reminded the gate agent of my son’s nut allergy, and she personally came to pre-board us. The flight crew was so kind and was already informed about his nut allergy. When we were seated, as per your policy, the flight attendant made an announcement to our immediate area to please not consume nuts and that no products with nuts would be sold in our area. My son was 9 years old at the time, and the tone of your staff as they spoke made us feel that you had our back. I realize you can’t guarantee a nut-free environment, but you took multiple steps that help us reduce the risk of his exposure to nuts while in the air.

When it came time for snack service, I had packed my own. I never rely or expect an airline to provide safe food for my son. I also carry a variety of gluten-free, dairy-free and other snack options because I try to be mindful that there may be someone in our immediate area who only has nuts for a snack and may need another choice. The flight attendant told me this was unnecessary on JetBlue, as they too had a variety of choices to offer passengers. Then, to my son’s delight, she offered him a bag of certified nut-free cookies (Skeeter Snacks). His joy was contagious.

My peanut allergic son feeling happy and safe flying JetBlue Airways.
My peanut allergic son feeling happy and safe flying JetBlue Airways.

Food allergies affect at least 15 million Americans, many of whom are small children. These children will grow up to be the future business travelers of the world and will choose to fly airlines that treat their food allergy (a legitimate medical condition) with dignity and respect. They will discover, just like I did, that JetBlue is worthy of their business, love, and support.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Grateful Food Allergy Mom.

This post originally appeared on HuffPost.

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Originally published: January 30, 2018
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