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Airline Removes Teenage Boys From Flight For Peanut Allergy

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 3/26/2019 Alex Temblador
a large passenger jet flying through a blue sky: Korean Air Airbus A380 approaching John F Kennedy International Airport © jcheris/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus Korean Air Airbus A380 approaching John F Kennedy International Airport

Two teenage brothers were flying to Manila, Philippines, from Atlanta, Georgia, to visit their dad who is temporarily based there for work when airline crews forced the boys to get off the plane because of one brother’s severe peanut allergy.

The 15- and 16-year-old boys were traveling alone to see their father after visiting their sick grandfather. It appears the family had booked a flight through Delta which included a leg of a flight with Korean Air, as the airline is a Delta Airlines sky partner.

The family had informed Delta of the boy’s allergy and Delta made sure that no peanuts were served on the first leg of the teenage boys’ flight from Atlanta to Seoul, South Korea. However, when the boys boarded their second flight from Seoul to Manila on Korean Air, the airline crew were not as accommodating.

The crew told the boys that peanuts would be served on board and that they wouldn’t deprive guests of the snacks, informing them that they would have to deal with it or get off the plane.

The boy with the peanut allergy asked for another option, and his father, Rakesh Patel said that they were then forcibly removed from the plane, stranded in Seoul and made to return to Atlanta.

"The gate agent reaches over and tries to tug on my son's shirt to encourage him to get off the plane," Patel said. "It's not easy being in that position when you are that far from your kids."

The Patel family has filed a complaint with Delta and is asking for a refund.

"You guys really need to make sure your partner airlines have the same policies. We just need to come up with some fair policies that allow passengers with severe allergies to be treated respectfully, fairly and allow them to travel," Patel said. "It was not my fault. It was not my children's fault. It was one of your partner airlines."

Korean Air has apologized to the family and is looking into the situation, as is Delta Air Lines.

Channel 2 Action News received statements from Delta and Korean Air.

Korean Air said: "Korean Air is aware that peanut and food allergies are an industry issue and no airline can guarantee a food allergy-free environment. But we are reviewing ways to deal with this issue in a safe and feasible way. We totally understand the risks faced by passengers with nut and food allergies and will certainly try to accommodate them better in the future.”

“Korean Air has apologized to Mr. and Mrs. Patel and their sons. Customer service is a mainstay of the Delta and Korean Air partnership and we regret that the Patel’s experience did not reflect our common values. That is not our style and we can and will do better."

Delta Air Lines added: “We’re sorry for this family’s ordeal, particularly during what is already a difficult time for them. Delta and our partner Korean Air are communicating with the family and examining the processes surrounding this incident; we will use our findings in our work to create a consistent experience for customers flying Delta and our partner airlines.”

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