Southwest Airlines Eliminates Peanuts – And Part of Their History

Southwest Airlines will stop serving peanuts August 1 citing passenger allergies. That’s really notable because of the history of ‘peanuts’ intertwined with the airline since its founding.

I always skip the peanuts anyway so I won’t miss them. I admit to once or twice asking for a second package of Wheat Thins though. And as long as Southwest doesn’t eliminate canned water, because that’s awesome.

In 1976, two years before airline deregulation, the Civil Aeronautics Board was ‘experimenting with price competition’ and approved Frank Lorenzo’s Texas International Airlines to undercut Southwest’s intra-Texas pricing with “Peanuts Fares” since they let you fly for peanuts.

Southwest responded with a two tiered pricing structure, one fare matching Texas International’s $13 fares and one more expensive $26 fare (for business travelers whose employers were paying) that came with a free bottle of liquor. The airline became the biggest liquor distributor in the state of Texas. They served free alcohol on board until 1988.

While peanuts are now a snack, they once stood for how frugal the airline was: other airlines served meals while Southwest served just peanuts. Some Southwest executives felt they would need to increase their investment in inflight food. Then-CEO Herb Kelleher shot that down, “Do you know what the difference in cost is between peanuts and Snickers?”

Peanuts at Southwest were once known as ‘Love Bites.’ Southwest launched at Dallas Love field. Their flight attendants wore pink hot pants (designed by founding airline President Lamar Muse’s first wife). Automated ticket machines were called “Quickies.” Today their New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol remains LUV.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. There is so much history in those peanuts at Southwest that it’s a shame they’re eliminating them. But it also makes perfect sense. Peanut allergies were virtually unknown 30 years ago. But now they are fairly common. Ironically, most of the cause of peanut allergies has been shown to be parents’ reluctance to feed their kids peanuts, which then causes them to develop the allergy! But this is not Southwest’s problem. If many people are allergic to peanuts, it’s obviously the wrong snack to serve on their aircraft.

  2. I’m allergic to dairy and sulfites so I think it’s only fair all airlines remove wine and anything dairy or made with dairy off all planes worldwide
    I’m also allergic to water so I’d like to suggest they remove water too

  3. As a parent to a child who is allergic to tree nuts, flying with my son is stressful. JetBlue creates buffer zones and allows the family to pre-board so they can wipe down the seats, but the legacy carriers don’t do squat to make the parents feel more comfortable. American’s response to me has basically been “then don’t get on the plane”. Hence why I now fly JetBlue and Southwest more, and American and United less.

  4. @Dwondermeant- people aren’t allergic to water you d*ck. People with food allergies can literally die when they are exposed, and this type of callous nonsense shows just what type of selfish pri*k you really are. What’s the problem? You can’t go a few hours on a flight without peanuts? Do you have children? How would you feel if they had a medical emergency due to somebody’s selfishness at 35,000 feet, and there was literally nothing that you could do?

  5. How sad. Dump the peanuts, but allow companion monkeys and pigs on board the plane. There’s a comedy sketch about all this waiting to be performed late night.

  6. How about people with allergy to dogs/cats? Is it OK to not serve peanuts, but it’s OK to let not only small dogs but these “big” dogs come and be on planes with people sitting there that are VERY allergic to them? I speak from experience! Just came back from a flight where the first flight they even asked people not to have any of their own peanuts brought on board by them, but on the next flight we had a huge dog right behind us. My husband had to take me to the ER a couple of days after our flight as I was having difficulty breathing and having an asthma attack. Have lost my voice etc. But… it’s OK regarding a “peanut allergy”, but not an “animal allergy”. I just don’t get it! Think airlines need to rethink the whole “service animal” thing!

  7. Tree nut allergies mean no walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc. Peanuts are grown in the ground not on trees so that would mean all nuts in any form.

  8. I’m allergic to people on flights. Please remove everyone so I have the whole plane to myself.

    Seriously… what a bunch of snowflakes we have nowadays.

  9. LOL Dwondermeant, you must be related to the Wicked Witch of the West, who was very allergic to water. I suggest you don’t go to Thailand during Songkran.

  10. @Ampy Cox. I sympathize. I sat next to a woman with a small dog. I could feel the allergy air the second I sat down. To be honest, given the number of dogs on planes nowadays, I am willing to bet that there is dog dander on every seat. Even with years of allergy shots for dog dander, it still bothers me. The problem is that you are stuck next to that person for 5 to 6 hours. It is really a challenge for people with pet allergies.

  11. To all the snarky comments on allergies, just be glad you are blessed not to have a serious food allergy. It is real for a lot of folks, and they aren’t snowflakes but real people who really really wish they didn’t have their allergy. While many allergens can be contained (i.e., sulfites in wine, dairy allergy, egg, soy), peanut dust readily disperses in the air and only a few molecules of peanut protein can make a sensitive individual very ill or worse. While I will really miss the peanuts on Southwest, it is a move in the right direction.

  12. No, Ed, you are in fact a whiny snowflake. Other people’s alleged-health concerns aren’t my problem.

  13. Other people’s allergies are in fact your concern if they go into anaphylactic shock & the entire plane diverts to land for emergency medical care.

  14. Parents need to take responsibility with their children and make sure they have medication if their child has a breakout. Airlines are not hospitals. BTW customers can bring their peanuts on the plane regardless if WN does not provide them anymore.

  15. Shoot, if every flight was like my last on on Southwest, I wouldn’t even miss them if they still passed them out – there were 5 1/2 whole peanuts (whole peanuts and halves) in my last bag.

  16. People who own pets (dogs and cats especially) actually have some pet dander on their clothes (even if the pet isn’t with them) and they bring that dander from home onto the planes with them.

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