SEOUL — A metro Atlanta family said an airline crew forced their two sons to get off a plane because of one brother's severe peanut allergy.
The boys were traveling from Atlanta to Manila in the Philippines, where their dad is based for a temporary job. The 15- and 16-year-olds were traveling by themselves after visiting their sick grandfather.
The family said they let Delta know ahead of time about the boy’s allergy and Delta made sure that on the first leg of the flight, from Atlanta to Seoul, South Korea, no peanuts were served. However, when the boys went to board their second flight from Seoul to Manila on Delta Air Lines sky partner Korean Air, the boys were told there would be peanuts served on board.
The family said the airline crew told them they were not going to deprive other guests of peanuts, so the boys had two choices – get off or deal with it.
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When the son with the peanut allergy asked for another option, the boys’ father, Rakesh Patel, said his sons were forcibly removed from the plane and, stranded in Seoul, had to take a return flight to Atlanta.
"The gate agent reaches over and tries to tug on my son's shirt to encourage him to get off the plane," Patel said. "It's not easy being in that position when you are that far from your kids."
The family has now filed a complaint, asking for a refund and more.
"You guys really need to make sure your partner airlines have the same policies. We just need to come up with some fair policies that allow passengers with severe allergies to be treated respectfully, fairly and allow them to travel," Patel said. "It was not my fault. It was not my children's fault. It was one of your partner airlines."
Delta said it is looking into what happened. Korean Air said it has apologized to the family and is reviewing what happened and how to make it better in the future.
On Monday afternoon, Channel 2 Action News received statements from Delta and Korean Air.
“We’re sorry for this family’s ordeal, particularly during what is already a difficult time for them. Delta and our partner Korean Air are communicating with the family and examining the processes surrounding this incident; we will use our findings in our work to create a consistent experience for customers flying Delta and our partner airlines.”
- Delta Air Lines
"Korean Air is aware that peanut and food allergies are an industry issue and no airline can guarantee a food allergy-free environment. But we are reviewing ways to deal with this issue in a safe and feasible way. We totally understand the risks faced by passengers with nut and food allergies and will certainly try to accommodate them better in the future.
Korean Air has apologized to Mr. and Mrs. Patel and their sons. Customer service is a mainstay of the Delta and Korean Air partnership and we regret that the Patel’s experience did not reflect our common values. That is not our style and we can and will do better."
- Korean Air
Cox Media Group