Southwest Airlines has decided to remove its famous peanuts from its in-flight menu.
In a decision that may seem long overdue to some, the airline announced last week that the peanut service offered will cease to exist as of August 1. The popular airline cited passenger allergies as the main reason.
Cutting the cheap, tasty food from the menu seems like a no-brainer given the frequency of peanut allergies, especially those that are airborne, where just the smell of the nut in an enclosed space can trigger an allergic reaction. But the shock of the airline getting rid of them comes from a long history with the popular snack.
Since the 1980s, Southwest has been known as the “peanuts airline”, synonymous with its promise that airfare would be available for “peanuts”. The introduction of the nut was also to save on costs versus splurging on higher-end snacks like chocolate bars.
“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.”
While people with allergies may be thankful for the removal of peanuts from Southwest flights, others were not so happy.
The National Peanut Board issued a statement saying they were disappointed in Southwest's decision, calling it "an unnecessary step that will disappoint many of Southwest's customers".
But, Southwest isn’t the first airline to change its policies on peanuts.
United Airlines does not serve pre-packaged peanuts, but warns on its website there is no guarantee of allergy-free meals on flights. Similarly, American Airlines and JetBlue both do not serve peanuts, but warn of other passengers and meals carrying them. Delta will not serve peanuts on board if a passenger notifies them of an allergy beforehand.
"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," Southwest added in their statement.
Southwest included in the announcement they will be replacing peanuts with pretzels as their signature snack on board. Previously available snacks like cookies and chips will still be offered. Full meals are also available during longer flights.