- A Delta passenger went into anaphylaxis on a flight after cabin crew served nuts to people near her.
- Sara Metzger said she used two EpiPens but the plane did not make an emergency landing.
- Delta said passenger safety was its top priority and crew were trained to respond to onboard events.
A Delta passenger said her flight did not make an emergency landing after she had an anaphylactic reaction to nuts and had to inject herself with two EpiPens.
In a complaint filed with the Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, Sara Metzger argued that Delta Air Lines failed to accommodate her disability and didn’t respond when she experienced life-threatening symptoms.
Metzger was flying on Delta from Sarasota, Florida, back home to Portland, Oregon, in April after visiting family. The incident occurred after she changed planes in Atlanta, she said.
Metzger told Insider she informed the cabin crew of her life-threatening nut allergy when she boarded the flight in Atlanta. But passengers aboard the plane were told that snacks, including almonds, would be given out.
After reminding the cabin crew again of her allergy, Metzger said she was asked if she’d like a buffer zone around her or for the crew to not serve almonds at all. She asked for the latter.
Soon after snacks were distributed, Metzger said her throat began to swell and she started itching — common signs of anaphylaxis. She noticed that some passengers around her were eating almonds.
Metzger administered an EpiPen in a bathroom and then told crew members that the plane needed to make an emergency landing. Another passenger who said he was a cardiologist examined her and advised her to wait and see if her symptoms improved.
Because her symptoms persisted, she said she gave herself a second EpiPen injection. “At this point, none of the staff is really talking to me. They’re all talking through this doctor,” Metzger told Insider.
Metzger said the passenger’s advice contradicted what Delta pilots were told by medical staff on the ground, who suggested that the plane make an emergency landing.
“I’m just sitting there having the residual effects of this anaphylactic reaction, hoping that it doesn’t come back again and that I don’t die on this airplane. It was just a really terrifying situation to be in,” she said.
The flight landed as planned in Portland. Metzger said she was told on several occasions that the pilots were trying to find an airport for an emergency landing.
“Despite Ms. Metzger’s medical peril and the directive of medical services on the ground, the pilot followed the preferences of the cardiologist/passenger rather than the obvious medical needs of Ms. Metzger or the directive from medical services on the ground,” the complaint to the Department of Transportation says. “The pilot refused to land.”
When the plane did land, Metzger said a medical crew had to wait until other passengers left the aircraft before reaching her.
She has vowed never to fly Delta again. “It is totally up to the whim of the airline staff whether or not they’re going to put my life at risk and take my disability for what it is,” Metzger said. “I don’t want to die on a Delta flight. So that’s not a risk that I’m going to take again.”
Metzger wants Delta to be fined for disability discrimination.
A Delta representative told Insider: “While we unfortunately cannot respond to this specific event, passenger safety is Delta’s top priority and our crew are trained and prepared to respond to onboard events as they occur.”
Allergen campaigners are calling for more awareness by airlines after a series of close calls related to the distribution of nuts.
Last month, Lianne Mandelbaum complained that she was left “humiliated” by a United Airlines cabin crew when she attempted to ask for a “buffer zone” to account for her son’s nut allergy.