Delta, Korean Air apologize after teens kicked off of plane because of peanut allergy

Julia Thompson
The brothers were traveling on their own on Delta partner, Korean Air, which wouldn't accommodate a request to refrain from serving peanuts.
A Korean Air 777-200 plane being painted in the airline's paint hangar in Busan, South Korea.

Two teenagers were kicked off a Delta Air Lines partner flight and stranded in Seoul, South Korea, because of peanut-allergy issues, according to their parents.

The brothers, 15 and 16, were traveling from Atlanta to the Philippines on their own and stranded in Seoul after Korean Air wouldn't accommodate a request to refrain from serving peanuts around the teens since the eldest brother has a severe peanut allergy. 

"It was the most, most stressed out I've ever been," Prajakta Patel, the teens' mom, told "Good Morning America." 

The boys' father continued: "When you're sitting halfway around the world and your children are stranded at an airport because they got kicked off a plane because of a food allergy, it's a punch in the gut," Rakesh Patel told "GMA."

The family booked flights for the boys through Delta from Atlanta to Manila and alerted the airline ahead of time about the peanut allergy, the Patels said, but the connecting flight from Seoul to Manila was on Korean Air, a Delta partner.

When the teens boarded the plane, they were told peanuts would be served and that they either had to get off the plane or risk exposure, which could be life-threatening to the 16-year-old, the parents said. The brothers offered to sit in the back with the 16-year-old wearing a mask, but Korean Air agents denied the request, and the boys eventually flew back to Atlanta. 

More: 10% of American adults have a food allergy

Korean Air and Delta have both apologized.

"Korean Air sincerely apologizes to Mr. and Mrs. Patel and their sons," Korean Air spokesperson InSun Lee said in a statement to USA TODAY. "Customer service is a mainstay of the Delta and Korean Air partnership and we regret that the Patels' experience did not reflect our common values.  We are examining this incident and will work out to create a better customer experience."

Lee stressed that the airline understands food-allergy risks. 

"Korean Air is aware that peanut and food allergies are an industry issue and no airline can guarantee a food allergy-free environment. But we are reviewing ways to deal with this issue in a safe and feasible way. We totally understand the risks faced by passengers with nut and food allergies and will certainly try to accommodate them better in the future."

Delta also apologized to the Patels. 

“We’re sorry for this family’s ordeal, and we are working with our partner Korean Air to examine the processes surrounding this incident," Susannah Thurston, spokesperson for Delta, said in a statement to USA TODAY. "We will use our findings to create a consistent experience for customers flying Delta and our partner airlines.”

The family has filed a complaint with Korean Air, according to "GMA"

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Delta, Korean Air apologize after teens kicked off of plane because of peanut allergy