Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Helped make a difference.... 

I'm a letter writer (or e-mail these days). I've written to my elected officials asking for greater funding for fibromyalgia research, and I've written to various talk shows asking them to do shows about chronic illness to increase awareness. Usually, there is no reply.

Last October, I went to Hawaii on vacation. The plane flight was almost eight hours, and I asked the airline to provide a gluten free meal. I found out that they had discontinued this option, which meant I was going to have to bring my own food.

I e-mailed the airline asking them to reconsider. I even gave them ideas on simple changes to their meals that would make them safe for a person with celiac disease or wheat allergy. They would not budge.

Then, last week, to my surprise, I got a letter in the mail from the director of customer relations for the airline. Here's most of what it said:

"I understand that you had previously contacted us to express your concern regarding United's decision to discontinue gluten-free meal service on our flights. As the result of the feedback provided by you and our other valued customers, I'm very pleased to advise you that as of January 6, 2005, we have reinstated gluten-free special meals on our flights. As with any business, we consider our customers' preferences and feedback in addition to our competitiveness before making changes. Because of your good comments, we were able to review and revise our policy.

"Gluten-free meal service is offered on specific flights and may vary based on class of service.....

"Thank you for telling us how we can be a better airline for you. We appreciate your contribution to this policy change and look forward to continuing to serve you on United Airlines....."

I guess the moral of the story is to not give up. Keep writing for the services, research or public awareness you need. You never know when someone will respond.

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