FRIDAY, June 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Airlines must permit passengers to preboard in order to wipe down seats as a precaution against food allergies, the U.S. Department of Transportation says.

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The rule includes adults who have food allergies and parents of children with food allergies, The New York Times reported.

The decision stems from a case in September 2016, when gate agents for American Airlines denied Nicole Mackenzie’s request to preboard a flight to clean the area around the seat assigned to her seven-year-old daughter, who has life-threatening nut and seed allergies.

After the family filed a formal complaint with the Department of Transportation, officials ruled that American Airlines had violated the Air Carrier Access Act, an airline-applicable equivalent of the Americans With Disabilities Act, The Times reported.

Under the Air Carrier Access Act, severe allergies are considered a disability if they affect a passenger’s ability to breathe or “substantially impact another major life activity.”

“This changes the entire landscape for the food-allergy flier,” Lianne Mandelbaum, who has a son with a severe food allergy, told The Times.

“Until now, food-allergy passengers’ safety was beholden to the mood of a particular flight crew,” said Mandelbaum, who writes a blog about food allergies and travel. “When the decision came down, I sat in my car and cried for an hour.”

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