Welcome to Episode 060 of the #PaxEx podcast. Our guest is Becca Alkema, who serves as operations manager at Runway Girl Network, overseeing our advertising assets and client relationships, and assisting with multi-media content generation. As the mother of a severely allergic child, she is well versed in the challenges posed by allergens, whether in daily life or on the road.
First, Southwest Airlines has long served peanuts to passengers as a signature snack. But as of 1 August, the airline stopped offering peanuts to “ensure the best onboard experience for everyone, especially for customers with peanut-related allergies”. There is always some push-back when airlines take something away from passengers. Becca shares her thoughts on Southwest’s decision, explains why bagged nuts are better than loose nuts (found in premium cabins), and suggests ways in which airlines can protect allergic passengers while improving #PaxEx overall.
Next, airlines are ramping up their crack-down of emotional support animals on board. And here again, Southwest has found itself in the headlines after issuing a statement with updates to its Service Animal Policies. Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) will be limited to dogs and cats. Trained Service Animals (TSAs) align with recent DOT guidance and are limited to dogs, cats, and miniature horses. Also, now fully-trained Psychiatric Support Animals (PSAs) are formally accepted as Trained Service Animals. Previously the airline informally accepted them as TSAs. Co-hosts Max Flight and Mary Kirby discuss whether airlines can find a happy balance between being empathetic to passengers who need emotional support animals and fighting abuse of the system. And Becca shares her thoughts on some of the discrepancies between the different airlines’ policies. Should a standard be set for the industry?
Last but not least, the big APEX EXPO and co-located AIX, Americas shows will be held next month in Boston. These are considered must-attend events for many on the #PaxEx industry calendar. Mary and Becca are gearing up for the big show, and Mary shares the themes, topics and products she’s eager to explore. Access the podcast at the link below or listen on Apple Podcasts here.