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Wednesday, October 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Peanuts no longer fly at Southwest Airlines

UPDATED: Tue., July 10, 2018, 2:25 p.m.

Passengers wait in line at the Southwest Airlines ticket counter Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, at Tampa International Airport. (Chris Urso / AP)
Passengers wait in line at the Southwest Airlines ticket counter Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, at Tampa International Airport. (Chris Urso / AP)
By Lauren Zumbach Chicago Tribune

Southwest Airlines has touted fares so low passengers can “fly for peanuts.” But as of Aug. 1, the nuts will no longer fly.

Dallas-based Southwest cited concerns about passengers with allergies in the decision, announced Tuesday, to drop the free packets of peanuts from the in-flight snack menu.

“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,” the airline said in an emailed statement.

The airline will continue to pass out free pretzels, and other free snacks on longer flights.

“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,” Southwest said.

Southwest said it has used a number of peanut-related slogans since it was founded 47 years ago, a symbol of its low-frills, low-fare model. Unlike traditional carriers at the time, the airline didn’t serve full meals, just snacks like peanuts and pretzels, occasionally passed out by co-founder Herb Kelleher, dressed as Elvis Presley.

In 2017, the airline served more than 106 million packages, Southwest said.

Other airlines have already moved to ground the peanut packages. Neither United Airlines nor American Airlines serves peanuts on board, even in the warm nut mix American serves in first class.

But United, Delta and Southwest all said they can’t guarantee passengers with allergies a peanut-free environment, either because other foods served on board might contain trace amounts of allergens or because they can’t keep other passengers from bringing them on board. While aircraft are cleaned regularly, neither those cleanings nor the planes’ air filtration systems are designed to ensure allergens have been removed, American spokeswoman Leslie Scott said.

Southwest said it will let customers with peanut allergies board early to wipe down seats and tray tables, and encourages them to indicate their allergy when booking a ticket.

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