Melbourne Toddler Feels ‘Nut’ Too Good On SIA Flight, Parents Complain
What do you do when you’re so severely allergic to nuts that even the smell of nuts being eaten causes you to almost die?
Board a plane where nuts are served as a snack, maybe? We don’t think so.
But that’s what Dr Chris Daley and his wife Hong made their toddler do when they boarded Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight SQ217 from Singapore to Melbourne on July 12.
As passengers of the plane started consumed their peanuts, 3-year-old Marcus Daley reacted the way his parents knew he would react, for a child who suffers from anaphylaxis, a severe form of allergy which is life threatening.
In an interview with Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Dr Daley said that Marcus “started vomiting, his eyes were starting to swell and he couldn’t speak properly”, as the fumes from the nuts caused Marcus to have a near-fatal allergic reaction.
It’s something the couple had hoped to avoid, since they had already taken preventive measures by ordering a special nut-free meal for their son, which the airline complied with.
If they had done further research on SIA, however, they would have known that peanuts are served as a snack on board the airline, usually together with meal service.
Ban Nuts In The Air
Thankfully, Marcus’ condition improved when Dr Daley administered adrenaline shots to his son — the first time he had to do so to to treat his peanut allergy.
But concerned that other passengers might not be as lucky, the toddler’s parents argued that the airline should stop serving peanuts, as there are alternative snacks that can be served.
However, Mrs Daley said that her concerns were “brushed off” by SIA, leading to the family lodging a formal complaint.
Mr Daley concedes that even if the airline didn’t serve nuts on board, it would be difficult to prevent passengers from bringing peanuts onto a plane, but he was quoted by ABC News as saying:
If you’re knowingly serving hundreds and hundreds of packets of peanuts at one time in a plane where there is almost certainly going to be someone who has an allergy, that’s just careless and irresponsible and potentially fatal.
In response, SIA said on Wednesday (July 19) that it is reviewing the serving of nuts on board its flights.
SIA’s Policy On Nuts
On its website, SIA does cater to passengers with nut allergies.
It strives to provide a nut-free meal but it is unable to guarantee a nut-free cabin or environment.
Furthermore, it is unable to prevent passengers from bringing their own snacks on board the flight.
Furthermore, a spokesman from SIA told The Straits Times that:
As soon as our crew were made aware of the situation they immediately removed all packets of peanuts from the area.
They also stopped serving peanuts in the cabin for the rest of the flight.
With such measures in place, what more can airlines do to placate passengers who have special requirements?
Netizens Go Nuts
The issue became hotly debated over social media, with many people saying that the Daleys were just exhibiting self-entitled behaviour by making the airline stop serving peanuts and taking away the peanuts of hundreds of passengers because of one precious child.
Some felt that enforcing a blanket ban on food products that people may be allergic to was illogical, and was a slippery slope that would lead to more products being banned.
Others felt that the onus was on the parents to take preventive measures, and not expect the rest of the world to bear the burden for you.
While one netizen was of the belief that masks and toddlers just don’t go together.
Call For Compassion
Some netizens believed that people should be more accommodating towards people with allergies, and shared instances where they said compassion was showed.
Parents should still exercise the necessary precaution and discuss with Airline Companies on possible solutions to minimize any incidents.
Questions To Ponder
The incident left Singaporeans with many questions to think about.
In this crowded island of millions of people, should the needs of one person outweigh the rest?
Or should we “show compassion” by repeatedly giving way to people, especially children, who are deemed as in need of special treatment — and can we do so without breeding a “strawberry generation”?
If an adult has a peanut allergy, the responsibility is on him to take precautions to protect himself before boarding a flight — therefore, isn’t it the parents’ job to take these precautions if their child has a peanut allergy? For example, doing research on which airlines serve peanuts and just not flying with those airlines?
According to The Straits Times, most global airlines do not ban peanuts completely, including Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways. However, Australiasa airlines like Qantas and Air New Zealand have stopped serving peanuts on its flights — perhaps the Daleys should have flown with them instead?
Or perhaps children with such strong peanut allergies should just avoid flying altogether until they are adults or have the condition under control?
Don’t Turn Your Problems Into Others’ Problems
When you turn your personal problem into an issue that the rest of society has to unwillingly deal with, there is bound to be backlash.
Hopefully, the Daleys will take the comments into account and make an appropriate choice in the future.