Southwest Airlines has just announced that beginning August 1, it will no longer serve peanuts on its flights. The carrier is the latest to either ditch peanuts or stop serving them when a passenger with a peanut allergy is on board. This move is intended to keep people from, you know, dying.
“Peanuts forever will be part of Southwest’s history and DNA,” the airline said in a statement. “However, to ensure the best on-board experience for everyone, especially for customers with peanut-related allergies, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue serving peanuts on all flights beginning Aug. 1.”
Severe allergic reactions to food are the cause of 150 deaths a year in the United States and 2,000 hospitalizations, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
On the internet, land of a thousand hot takes, reactions to this are mixed. And hey, I almost get it. Peanuts are good! But while I don’t think we should, say, ban peanut butter from the planet (please don’t ban peanut butter from the planet), I think it’s pretty reasonable to ditch free peanuts inside a pressurized tube from which there is no escape as it hurtles through the sky in seeming defiance of all laws of nature.
But hey, let’s break this down. Some peanut pros:
- Peanuts are tasty.
- Airplane peanuts are kind of a tradition.
- The foil packages are pretty?
- You can “save them for later,” i.e., drop them in a pocket in your carryon and forget about them until the next time you fly and then toss them out.
- People could get very sick.
- People could die.
- People could spend the flight being scared that they might get sick or die.
Let’s go further. Selfish peanut cons:
- So say someone goes into anaphylaxis. That’s an emergency landing situation. Stress! Delays! Ugh!
- Epipens freak me the fuck out. The sound! The stabbing! The resulting low-key panic!
- I am not a huge pretzel fan! They’re fine, but not my favorite!
- Maybe there’s someone out there that can only eat peanuts? Does this person exist?
- No, sorry, even that one is bullshit. Passengers with peanut allergies are asked to inform the airline, so presumably if someone just had to eat peanuts, they could be placed on a flight without any known peanut allergies.
Point being, perhaps in this situation—a situation where everyone is locked up together in a crazy invention that travels enormous distances in relatively short amounts of time, and which is also very stressful for lots of people in the best of circumstances—we could ditch the peanuts and just be cool with pretzels, tomato juice, and overpriced domestic beer. Because the goal here is pretty simple. As Southwest put it (again, per CNBC):
“Our ultimate goal is to create an environment where all customers—including those with peanut-related allergies—feel safe and welcome on every Southwest flight.”
Safety > nostalgia. Pretzels for all—unless you, like me, don’t care for (or can’t eat) pretzels. We can probably just bring our own snacks (even if we have to wait longer to eat them.)