Delta Air Lines and Korean Air have apologized to the family of two unaccompanied Indian-American minors who were kicked off a flight on their way to visit family in the Philippines.
The 15 and 16 year old sons of Prajakta and Rakesh Patel were removed from the Korean Air flight after they told the airline about a peanut allergy and asked that peanuts not be served around them on the Seoul – Manila leg of the flight. Korean Air is Delta’s partner for that segment.
According to news reports in Good Morning America and USA Today, both Delta and Korean Air apologized for deplaning the kids at Seoul. The unaccompanied minors had to wait many hours to catch a flight back to their parents in Atlanta, Georgia.
Korean Air spokesperson InSun Lee is quoted saying in a statement sent to USA Today and Good Morning America, “Korean Air sincerely apologizes 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 Patels’ experience did not reflect our common values. We are examining this incident and will work out to create a better customer experience.”
According to news reports, the kids repeatedly tried to explain the dangers of the peanut allergy but Korean Air officials did not accommodate them and told them peanuts would be served and it was up to them to board or get off. But InSun Lee told USA Today the airline was aware of peanut allergies, saying, “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.”
Delta spokesperson Susannah Thurston, told USA TODAY in a statement, “We’re sorry for this family’s ordeal, and we are working with our partner Korean Air to examine the processes surrounding this incident,” adding, “We will use our findings to crate a consistent experience for customers flying delta and our partner airlines.”
The parents of the kids appeared on Good Morning America March 27 where they spoke of their ordeal.
A report by the ABC affiliate WSB-TV said that the Patels had informed Delta about the peanut allergy of their eldest son and were assured by the airline that no peanuts would be served on the first leg from Atlanta to Seoul, Good Morning America reported.
The problem arose when the children were told peanuts would be served and they had the choice of not boarding.
Mother Prajakta Patel told Good Morning America, “I was very shocked and almost in tears,” adding, “It was the most, most stressed out I’ve ever been.”
Father Rakesh Patel told Good Morning America, “When you’re sitting halfway around the world and your children are stranded at an airport because they got kicked off a plane because of a food allergy, it’s a punch in the gut.”