Southwest Airlines is eliminating peanuts from all of its future flights in a bid to allow those suffering from peanut allergies to travel comfortably.
Beginning on August 1, passengers traveling aboard Southwest Airlines will no longer be able to snack on peanuts, the budget airline announcing that they will stop offering the complimentary snack, Fox News reports.
"Peanuts forever will be part of Southwest's history and DNA. 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," a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said. "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. We'll miss the peanuts, but, at the end of the day, it's our Southwest Employees and the Hospitality they deliver that set us apart, far more than peanuts ever could."
According Skift, Southwest was among the first airlines to offer peanuts as a complimentary snack when they emerged as budget airline in 1971. In an effort to offer low fares, Southwest opted not to serve in-flight meals, instead choosing to market itself as the "peanut airline" with "peanut fares." The marketing campaign resulted in Southwest being the airline most closely associated with the snack, and in 2017 alone, they served more than 106 million peanuts to passengers flying with them.
"It was all about marketing," Bob Van der Linden, chair of the aeronautics division at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, said, adding that while other airlines have served peanuts, "Southwest was the first to serve only peanuts, and did so proudly, to show how cost efficient it was."
The decision to stop offering the salty snacks comes after a wave of concern of the health risks associated with them for passengers who suffer from peanut-related allergies. In March, a family claimed that their 9-year-old son suffered a severe allergic reaction when peanuts were served aboard their Southwest flight.
The snacks have become so controversial and worrisome in recent years that in 2010, the Department of Transportation considered an industry-wide ban on peanuts, though it ultimately did not go through due to prior law that required the DOT to conduct a peer-reviewed study before passing the rule. However, several airlines, including Continental, United, US Airways JetBlue, and American Airlines, voluntarily stopped serving peanuts to avoid further complaints and lawsuits.
While passengers will no longer be able to treat themselves to the salty snack on their next Southwest flight, they will still be able to enjoy pretzels on all flights and a handful of other free snacks on longer flights.