American Airlines Group Inc. will allow people who suffer from peanut and tree-nut allergies to board flights early so they can wipe down areas where they will sit to avoid potential exposure to allergens.

The change will take effect Dec. 12 when flight-service manuals are updated, American said in a filing Tuesday with the U.S. Transportation Department. Complaints over the issue were filed against the carrier last year by Food Allergy Research & Education and a woman whose son has a life-threatening peanut allergy.

“Customers with nut allergies who would like to board flights early to wipe down surfaces may ask to do so at the gate,” American said. While the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier doesn’t serve peanuts, it said it can’t guarantee customers won’t be exposed to nuts during flights.

About 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies, the food-allergy research group said in its filing. Wiping down seats, tray tables and arm rests on aircraft can’t be done by allergic passengers during general boarding, the group said.

Delta Air Lines Inc. allows early boarding to travelers with nut allergies. The websites of United Continental Holdings Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co. don’t mention an early-boarding option for people with food allergies.

–With assistance from Justin Bachman.

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Photo Credit: American Airlines is joining Delta Air Lines in allowing passengers with nut allergies to board early. Bloomberg