Cover photo by Paul Heaberlin, used under Creative Commons license


When we visited Halifax last weekend we flew Porter. It’s great service and we like flying out of the island airport, so…yeah. We always fly Porter.

Anyway, just before both legs (Toronto -> Montreal, Montreal -> Halifax) the head flight attendant made an unusual announcement. Before closing the door she told us that someone aboard was so allergic to peanuts  that she had to collect any open containers of nuts before closing the door. Also, that no one could open any nuts during the flight, and they would obviously not offer almonds as one of the snacks.

First, let’s assume the flight attendant misspoke and conflated nut allergies with peanut allergies, and that the passenger was allergic to peanuts as she first stated. Let’s also assume that the afflicted passenger is one of the estimated 0.6%-1.0% of people with an actual peanut allergy, not the self-diagnosed sort.

Going by a quick and dirty estimate based on Porter’s Q400 aircraft spec, I’d estimate that this passenger sat in roughly 9,300 cubic feet of cabin space. Granted, the air in that cabin is pressurized and recycled for the 90 minutes of flight time, but that’s still a pretty big space to worry about a single package of nuts being opened, no? We’re talking about peanut dust which, having gone airborne and diluted in nearly 10,000 cubic feet, being able to kill you. That seems incredibly sensitive. What happens in a movie theatre? Or a school bus? Or a doctor’s office, where you must surely spend a great deal of time? An airplane crew chief aside, I’m not sure how you control for that in your daily life.

And of course if that person was so massively allergic to peanuts we should accommodate that, and of course the airline was right to protect the passenger.

But maybe


Cover photo by Paul Heaberlin, used under Creative Commons license

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