In April of this year, a sister and brother with life-threatening nut allergies were told by Emirates airline staff that they could spend a 7½-hour flight in the toilet when cashews were served during dinner.
Shannen Sahota, 24, and Sundeep, 33, who paid more than £5,000 to take their parents to Dubai and Singapore for their 60th birthdays1 were reduced to panic when they learned that part of the evening meal contained cashews. Especially given that Shannen had told staff three times of their potentially life-threatening allergy: when booking, at check-in, and once on board at Birmingham Airport.
“Shannen and Sundeep — who carry EpiPen jabs for emergencies — told cabin crew of their fury at being exposed to nut residue which can be carried through air vents.
But they claim one told them they might feel more comfortable if they moved into one of the loos with cushions and pillows.
The pair refused and spent the next seven hours sitting at the back of the plane with blankets covering their heads and nostrils to avoid breathing in any nut particles.”2
Judging from the statement made by Emirates about the sibling’s ordeal, they aren’t too concerned:
“We are sorry to hear about Ms Sahota’s complaint. Emirates tries to cater to all passenger specific needs by offering a number of special meals that cover as many medical, dietary and religious requirements as possible. However, Emirates cannot guarantee completely nut-free flights. We’ve looked into Ms Sahota’s booking and our records do not reflect any mention of a nut allergy. All passengers who alert us of a nut allergy prior to travel are informed of our policy and it is also outlined on our website. When alerted during the flight, our crew tried their best to offer Ms Sahota and her brother alternative locations in an open space in back of the aircraft cabin to minimise their proximity to other passengers who may be consuming meals with nuts. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and our customer care team will be in touch with Miss Sahota directly.”3
What do you think about this? Shouldn’t the airline have been more sensitive and helpful?