I stepped onto the airplane and made my way back to my seat. I threw my bag up into the overhead bin, and as I was about to sit in my seat, I noticed that the man in the seat next to mine was eating peanuts. My sister noticed it at the exact moment that I did. "Quick, Mel! Get away! There are peanuts!"
I made my way back against the flow of traffic to the middle of the airplane. A flight attendant was standing in a row, talking to some other customers. I told her my problem. "I have a severe peanut dust allergy, and the man in the seat next to my assigned seat is eating peanuts. Is there anywhere else I can go?"
The flight attendant answered, "Ma'am, you need to go back to your seat so that the other passengers can get to their seats."
"I would be happy to sit there, but the man is eating peanuts, and I have a severe allergy. If I even inhale a small particle of the dust in the air, I could have a severe reaction." I thought maybe if I explained it better, she would help me find another seat.
She quickly showed that I thought wrong. "If you could just go back to your seat for now, we can try to figure something out after all the passengers have boarded the plane. You cannot take another passenger's seat."
"I understand that, but I can't go back where the peanuts were." I sat in the seat next to her to try to talk to her so we could figure out a solution and so the other passengers could get past me. I apologized to them, and every single one of them was kind and understanding.
"Just go stand at the back of the airplane until we can figure it out," she said, with a raised voice.
"I'm sorry, but I can't walk past him. He has peanuts out. I need to be fairly far away from him so that I can't even smell the peanuts." At this point, I was already beyond embarrassed and a little bit panicked that I may have already been exposed to the peanuts. A lady stood up and asked which seat was mine, and she went to sit there. She told me I could have her seat. I said that I appreciated it, but it was only one row away on the opposite side of the aisle, so it was still pretty close to the peanuts.
"Ma'am, you need to go sit in the seat that the other passenger was sitting in. Right now!" The flight attendant was not happy with me.
"Don't you have any other seats available? Can we ask somebody if they would be willing to switch seats again?" Some ladies next to the flight attendant agreed and tried to convince her that such a thing would not be difficult and were even willing to do so.
"I can't make anybody move out of their assigned seat, and I can't force anybody to stop eating peanuts. If you wanted to sit closer to the front, you would need to pay more money for the extended space seating." She was yelling at me by this point.
I answered, "I would be happy to pay more money to have a greater chance that I don't die." I'm pretty sure I was on the verge of tears at this point.
"Don't you have an epipen?"
"Yes, of course I do."
"Then you need to go back to your seat, right now! Unless you want to get off the plane!"
"I'm sorry, but I'm not willing to do that and risk having a severe reaction even if I have my epipen with me." The lady boarded who was supposed to sit where I was then sitting. She offered to let me stay there after a ten-second explanation of why I was in her spot, and she went back to the other seat.
The flight attendant went and talked to someone and came back to me. "I'm sorry," she said in the least sorry voice I have ever heard, "but you are going to have to move to this empty row right in front of where you are sitting." She made me wait while a customer service lady boarded the plane to talk to me.
The lady came and asked me if I was okay. I answered through my embarrassed leaking eyes that I was fine.
After being completely humiliated, she then proceeded, several times, to loudly talk at the back of the plane with the other flight attendants about how horrible I was because I wouldn't just sit in my seat. She spent several minutes in this manner. Other passengers near the back were kind enough to ask her to stop her loud complaining.
It was a terrible experience with the Frontier workers, especially because none of the other flight attendants made any effort to help while they just looked on during one of the worst experiences of my life, even though they could clearly hear what was going on. Nobody made any effort to apologize. Or to even acknowledge my presence later in the flight.
I kept finding tears making their way down my face. One thing that helped was the fact that nearly half of the people who passed by me getting off the airplane said things like, "I can't believe she treated you like that!" Or "I'm so sorry you had to go through that! That was just terrible!" Or "I hope you're doing okay. You didn't do anything that you should be embarrassed about." Or "Don't worry about it at all. You shouldn't feel bad for having an allergy. I can't believe she humiliated you like that!" Or "You should definitely complain to Frontier about that terrible treatment! She should be fired, or at least severely reprimanded!" Or "Can I just give you a hug? Nobody should have to go through such an awful experience. That is the worst customer service I have ever seen." I couldn't believe how kind and understanding all the other passengers were. Their kind words and smiles provided me with a lot of comfort and hope that there are still lots of good people in the world.