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In September 2016, Nicole MacKenzie and her family were not allowed to pre-board their flights so that they could wipe down the seating area before general boarding. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) found that the refusal to allow the to pre-board their flights was a violation of ACAA’s provision that allows pre-boarding for disabilities.

In December 2018, AA did change its allergy policy, and now will allow customers, specifically those with peanut and tree nut allergies, to pre-board for wiping a seating area.

[Position Statement]Download PDF

June 7, 2019 – Arlington, VA – The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) applauds the warning the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) issued to American Airlines in response to American Airline’s denial of the right to pre-board a family of a child with food allergies. However, AAFA calls on the USDOT and Congress to take even stronger actions to protect the rights of airline passengers with allergies and all disabilities.

“American failed to provide the MacKenzie family their rights that are clearly defined by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA),” stated Kenneth Mendez, the president and chief executive officer of AAFA. “However, a warning from the USDOT is not enough to address this grievance.  Congress must take action to give families like the MacKenzies the ability to take legal action to protect their rights.”

Specifically, AAFA has endorsed The “Airline Passenger Bill of Rights” introduced in the 115th Congress by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ed Markey (D-MA) that would reinstate the right of passengers with disabilities to sue airlines in federal court for denying basic access.  Under current law, those with a medical disability who feel they experienced discrimination from an air carrier can only file a complaint with the USDOT. Unfortunately, the private right of action provisions included in this legislation were ultimately not adopted as part of the ACAA.

“We look forward to working with the offices of Senators Blumenthal and Markey to reintroduce a new Airline Passenger Bill of Rights that contains important protections for passengers with allergies,” stated Mendez. 

For media inquiries, contact:
Angel Waldron, Director of Communications

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Hi, Dawn! You are certainly not alone, and AAFA realizes the struggle that you and so many, many members of our community have experienced. 

Currently, AAFA's advocacy team is pursuing a meeting with Airlines for America (the Airlines’ trade association) and the Department of Transportation to discuss the issue of pets on planes.

AAFA also supports a bill in the US Senate, Air Carrier Access Amendments Act of 2019 (S.669), that is meant to protect the rights of passengers with disabilities in air transportation, and, among other provisions, gives passengers the private right to sue. The AAFA advocacy team is meeting with legislators to help them better understand the issues and why this bill is important.

Last edited by K8sMom2002

Thank you for this news. We must hold the airlines responsible for or safety and rights while traveling. I also have suffered from acute asthma since birth. I can no longer travel by air and have lost all rights due to the allowance of ESA on flights.

I understand the rights of American with disabilities and the need for service animals This is a totally different issue. The last time I was on a flight, I heard a meow coming from a womans shoulder bag. She had a cat that was not seen. I can go into immediate anaphylactic shock and die if exposed to cat dander and hair as well as some dogs. My rights are being violated. It is incomprehensible that sever peanut allergies are considered but not animal allergies. I had to leave the plane.

We must continue this fight. Our rights must be considered. I will contact both Senators as well as my local Congressmen. We must continue until we have some flights that are "pet free", with clean air filters to ensure safe air quality. We should also be allowed to continue a lifestyle that allows travel as it does for all others. 

As it stands now, I cannot travel by air. I can no longer go on vacations of visit family or friends across the country unless it is somewhere we can drive to. I am in Illinois and had recent situation where a family member passed away in California and I could not travel to be with my family in a time of need. 

Please advise what is being done to work with the FAA to improve/change this situation.

Please help.


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