Item: “The U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed to the 10 major U.S. airlines a set of guidelines designed to accommodate passengers with peanut allergies. Its solution: Each plane should have designated ‘peanut-free zones.'”
– The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 2, 1998.

Good afternoon. Welcome aboard flight 1998 non-stop from New York to London. Before we take off, I’ll be explaining some new safety features on our flight.

In compliance with new federal guidelines protecting the less than one-tenth of one percent of the population with peanut allergies, rows 17 through 25 have been designated a “peanut-free zone.” Also, please be advised that passengers seated in rows 16 and 26 are in the peanut-free “buffer zone” as established by the Department of Transportation.

Passengers sitting in the buffer zone should note federal guidelines prohibit them from serving as a conduit for any peanut transfer into the peanut-free zone. Nor should they eat any peanut-containing foods such as Snickers or PB & J.

Should turbulence occur during the snack service, the captain will turn on the no-peanut light. Passengers eating peanuts should immediately secure their peanuts in a safe place. Should peanuts accidentally be loosed in the cabin, oxygen masks will automatically drop from the ceiling in the peanut-free zone. Masks should be secured tightly over the mouth and nose so allergic passengers can neither smell nor inadvertently inhale any peanuts or peanut dust that might enter their zone.

Because the Department of Transportation has said these new regulations are not “unduly burdensome,” and that they would have to “look into” similar safety measures against other products if complaints are lodged, this airline has adopted several proactive measures we feel will eventually be required by the government.

Since this is an international flight, smoking is permitted, which is a better deal than you’ll find in many restaurants. Rows 16 through 21 have been designated as this plane’s peanut-free smoking section. Rows 22 through 25 are peanut-free and smoke-free. Twenty-six through 29 are smoke buffer zones. In rows 30 through 45, you may smoke and have your peanuts too.

Due to fears that caffeine can cause everything from birth defects to bone loss, rows one through 20 are the new “caffeine-free zone.” Passengers in this section will not receive caffeinated coffee, tea, soft drinks or chocolate during the snack or meal service. They also may not have decaffeinated sodas, coffees or teas, since a danger of accidental switching exists. Passengers in this zone will receive bottled water. You may have noticed, part of this section overlaps with the peanut-free zone. Passengers who are seated in both zones are subject to the rules of both. We hope this is not “unduly burdensome.” All of this has been explained on the card in the seat pocket in front of you.

Due to the much-publicized issue of multiple chemical sensitivity, Rows 45 through 60 have been designated the “scent-free zone.” Passengers in this area may not apply perfumes, colognes, scented deodorants, or have used scented soaps, shampoos or conditioners. Each passenger should also let one of the flight attendants know whether any of their carry-on luggage was packed by someone wearing scented products or was out of their possession long enough for scented products to have been placed in that luggage without their knowledge.

For the further comfort and safety of our MCS passengers, all lavatory deodorizers have been removed, leaving everything in a more natural chemical-free state. We trust this won’t cause an “undue burden” for anyone.

For the comfort and safety of those who do not approve of alcohol consumption, the entire coach class has been designated an “alcohol-free zone” for this flight. Tonight’s in-flight meal will not include beef, chicken, pork, fish or any other products which could potentially cause allergic reactions or offend someone’s sensibilities about eating “food with a face.” In other words, we will be serving rice cakes. Those seated in the “grain-free zone” will receive nothing. We hope this does not constitute an “undue burden.”

Also, at the urging of anti-gambling activists, playing cards have been removed from this airplane in order to discourage the urge to play “games of chance.” The in-flight movie was to be “Nuts,” starring Barbra Streisand, but we felt that might cause too much stress among some passengers.

Thank you and please enjoy your flight.

— Kristen Lopez Eastlick is program manager for the Center For Consumer Freedom, a nationwide coalition of food service and beverage companies.