American Airlines is letting passengers with nut allergies book special assistance. This means that they are able to preboard the aircraft. Why, you may ask? In order to wipe down surfaces.
The practice is nothing new. Indeed, Airlines such as easyJet have been allowing it for quite some time already. What is new is that American is now allowing passengers to book this on a trust basis, with no checks in place. This means that the system is open to abuse.
While this shouldn’t happen, undoubtedly a small number of passengers may try to take advantage of the system. As American has been forced to implement the policy, however, it can’t be taken away.
Is the policy a good thing?
I personally don’t feel it’s necessary. Now, given my serious peanut allergy, this is not a “why does he get it and not me” whine. Before easyJet stopped serving nuts completely, I informed them of my but allergy. I was given a boarding pass reading “special assistance” however, I couldn’t work out why. Now it all makes sense.
I’ll admit that I’ve never wiped down an airplane surface prior to travelling. Despite this, I appreciate why other people may feel the need to do so, and hey, it doesn’t affect anybody else. Where it does affect others is when passengers are allowed to preboard.
Although I’ve never wiped down at an airplane seat, I have seen it happen before. Now, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe it takes enough time to wipe a seat down to justify preboarding.
Open to abuse
As with any trust based system, there is an opportunity for it be be misused. With great power comes great responsibility, or so they say. While I feel most passengers can handle the responsibility of an exit row seat, for example, not everyone can handle the responsibility of not gaming the system.
I would fully support American Airlines requiring a doctor’s note in order to pre board, but I’m probably in the minority. However, it would stop people from pretending to have a life threatening illness.
Given the severity of allergies, and the consequences when they’re triggered, any passenger who pretends to have such an allergy should be ashamed of themselves. Indeed, I’d encourage airlines to pursue the perpetrators for fraudulent misrepresentation.
American Airlines’ take
We spoke to American Airlines about the system, and claims it could be abused. They issued us with the following statement:
“Of course, any customer who feels she or he needs to wipe down surfaces as a precaution may do so at any time during the boarding process – we are simply offering the ability to board early for those who specially request it. We’ve seen reports from a few outlets suggesting that there could be passengers who fake having a potentially life-threatening nut allergy in order to board early. We have not seen rampant abuse with this policy change.”
Do you have a nut allergy? Would you like to preboard? Should people be allowed to cheat the system? Let us know in the comments!