Back in early June, the Department of Transportation (DOT) released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that covered all sorts of consumer issues, from tarmac delays to fare transparency to bumping compensation to peanut allergies. Well, the public comment period is now winding down, and at least one issue, peanut allergies, has moved on to a next step.
Surprisingly enough, peanut allergies received the most comments by far, 458 from users alone (557 counting moderator responses) compared to just over 100 for most other topics. It's also the first issue to move into to the draft summary phase. Cornell University's Regulation Room program, which has hosted and moderated the public comment period, issued a summary of the conversation as of August 31. Now it wants the public to read the summary and make sure all opinions voiced during the open comment period are sufficiently addressed.
It seems silly to summarize the summary here, suffice it to say it appears thorough. It details the various concerns people have over regulating peanut consumption on planes, and outlines the pros and cons of several specific proposed solutions, such as an outright ban of peanuts or a no-peanut zone on all aircraft. The core of the issue is that many people are severely allergic to this iconic in-flight snack.
What I do want to say is that individuals still have an opportunity—if not an obligation—to participate in the process of establishing new consumer protections in the airline industry. If you commented on the peanut allergy issue, go make sure your voice was heard. And if it wasn't, say so! The other topics appear to still be open for comment, so be sure to add your opinion if you haven't already done so.
As for the future, the DOT told me more summaries will be coming, and the comment period officially ends September 23. That is when the peanut allergy summary will submitted to the DOT, so presumably all draft summaries will be available for review before then. The DOT plans to issue a final rule in the spring.
I will update this space as other topics move into the draft summary phase.