BBC presenter kicked off flight over child's allergy

Georgie Palmer with her husband Nick Sollom
SunExpress defended the decision by the captain, saying it could not guarantee a nut-free environment on its flight to Dalaman [BBC]

A freelance BBC weather presenter says she was kicked off a flight from London Gatwick to Turkey after asking passengers not to eat peanuts.

Georgie Palmer, 49, says she and her family were escorted off the SunExpress flight to Dalaman on 21 May with her family, after making the request due to her daughter's allergy.

Posting on social media, she said the SunExpress crew ignored her requests to do an announcement to all passengers - so she instead spoke to people around her on the flight.

SunExpress said it takes the safety of passengers seriously, but said the airline refrains from making announcements like the one Ms Palmer requested as it "cannot guarantee an allergen-free environment".

Anaphylactic reaction

Ms Palmer had boarded the flight with her husband Nick Sollom, 48, and daughters Rosie, 12, and Annie, 14.

She told the BBC the family said they asked for the crew to make an announcement for no one to consume peanuts because of Rosie's anaphylactic reaction to peanuts.

She posted on Instagram saying: "The SunExpress captain and cabin crew refused to make the standard announcement on behalf of our daughter.

"We gently asked the passengers at the front of the plane to share our request.

"Row by row, all the passengers turned back to kindly ask the row behind to please not eat nuts on the flight."

Ms Palmer said she was "calm" and that "nobody working on that plane showed one ounce of compassion".

According to the NHS, anaphylaxis can start within minutes of coming into contact with something you are allergic to, such as a food, medicine or insect sting.

Symptoms include swelling of the throat and tongue, which can make it difficult to breathe.

'Make it crystal clear'

Speaking after her ordeal, Ms Palmer told BBC London she as "horrified" that they would not make the announcement and that the staff got "very defensive".

"My ask is for the airline industry as a whole to take notice of this.

"What are your policies about nuts – make that crystal clear on your website.

"Allow your passengers the choice to know whether it is safe to fly with you.

"As we know you can never enforce an entirely nut-free environment – can we not take a leaf out of the book of restaurants who go to great efforts these days to protect people?"

In a statement, a spokeswoman for SunExpress acknowledged Ms Palmer had raised a concern about her duaghter's serious peanut allergy and her request for an announcement.

"We refrain from making these kinds of announcements as, like many other airlines, we cannot guarantee an allergen-free environment on our flights, nor prevent other passengers from bringing food items containing allergens on board.

"Due to the insistent behaviour of the passenger to others on board that they should not consume nuts, the captain decided it would be safest if the family did not travel on our flight.

"When this was explained to the passenger, he exhibited aggressive behaviour towards our crew members, and tried to gain access to the cockpit.

"To ensure the safety of our crew and passengers, we don’t tolerate aggressive and unruly behaviour on our flights."

SunExpress acknowledged the ordeal for Ms Palmer and her family had been "upsetting" adding the airline is "conducting a review of the information provided" during the booking process.

The Turkish-German airline said its website states all passengers must notify SunExpress 48 hours in advance of any special care required due to a medical condition.

"No such notification was received from the passengers in this instance," SunExpress added.

Absolute nonsense

Ms Palmer says claims they became aggressive are "absolute nonsense" and she hopes passengers on the flight will back her up.

"It's simply not true," she said. "There was no aggressive behaviour from us."

She added she tried to contact SunExpress in the run-up to the holiday but found it very difficult to get hold of someone from the airline.

The family ended up taking an EasyJet flight to the Turkish holiday resort the next day and said the crew made several announcements asking passengers not to open packets of peanuts on board.

However, Ms Palmer said they were forced to spend an extra £5,000 booking the additional flights, an airport hotel and other costs.

Airlines including British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair and Jet2 say on request, cabin crew will make an announcement and they will not serve nuts.