Peanut allergy causes emergency landing, airline sued

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - What should have been a fun-filled vacation turned into a major lawsuit.

A Sacramento woman with a severe peanut allergy said she thought United Airlines had assured her she wouldn't have a problem. Now, she's suing after a mid-air allergic reaction forced an emergency landing and sent her to the hospital for days.

"Basically, your lungs are collapsing. It's like an anaconda around your lungs, and every time you breathe it closes in and doesn't open," Alisa Gleason said describing her allergic reaction.

It isn't what Gleason and her family had in mind for their trip to Disneyworld, and neither was suing the airline, but those allergy symptoms are something Gleason always fears. That's why before committing to the cross-country flight, Gleason said she called United Airlines to ask about it.

"He said, 'no problem. We don't serve anything with peanuts in it on our flight because we know about peanut allergies.' I said, 'Well, can they make an announcement because I know you can't control the public,' and they said, yes," Gleason recalled.

However, once she was already on the plane, Gleason said the flight attendant told her there would be no announcement. Fortunately, she made it to Florida without incident and hoped the return flight would be easier. However, when they boarded that plane, Gleason 's husband said the flight crew was even more difficult.

"You start holding up the line, and then they started getting agitated because you're holding up the line," James Gleason said describing his conversation with a flight attendant. "We're trying to move people through. Got my kids seated, and when he came down, we're like she's severely allergic. 'We have a lot of people who are allergic,' he says, 'she'll be fine; just try to calm down.' He goes, 'are you sure it's not anxiety?'"

It wasn't until the plane was in mid-air that Alisa Gleason said a woman sitting four rows away from her began eating peanuts.

"I was just sitting in my seat, and then all of a sudden the air basically around me went away. I just stopped breathing," Alisa Gleason said.

Alisa Gleason used an inhaler and other medication, and eventually she was given oxygen, but even those helping her became concerned.

"[The flight attendant] asked the male nurse, 'can she make it to Chicago?' And he replied, 'how long?' She said, '40 minutes.' And he said, 'no she'll die,'" Alisa Gleason said.

The plane made an emergency landing in Missouri, where Alisa Gleason had to spend two days in an ICU.

James Gleason said he'll never forget the conversation he had with the woman eating the peanuts.

"She says, 'if they would have said something, I never would have opened these; how come somebody didn't say something?'" James Gleason said.


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