As my first long haul flight in a long time, I flew Newark to Athens on United Airlines. Because it had been over a year and a half since the last flight of this nature, I forgot to order a specialty meal that was gluten free. Additionally, I did not take my own advice and remember to eat before my flight or bring a snack on the plane as it was Fathers’ Day and I was trying to soak up the remaining time I had with my dad before I had to leave for the flight.
Once on board, I realized my mistake. I never placed the order for the specialty meal and United only serves snack boxes on domestic flights. Unfortunately, both the chicken and the pasta that the crew offered contained gluten of some form, so I was unable to eat either main course. I did eat the side salad, which was miniature, but the other sides also contained gluten. Luckily the dessert served after the meal was a mango sorbet, but I was still looking at another 9 hours of flying without any food.
I let a flight attendant know the issue and I asked if there was anything gluten free. Although he originally said no, he eventually came to my seat with a plan. He offered me a business class breakfast which he knew to be gluten free. I happily accepted and minutes later he brought me the tray. It included fruit, eggs, yogurt and more suitable edibles. I was incredibly thankful for this flight attendant for going out of his way to help me. The most fun part was that my meal was served on the ceramic plate from Polaris business class with the metal cutlery, a nice touch for economy I thought.
The important takeaway is that it never hurts to ask for help on a flight, or in any situation for that matter. Although the flight attendant did not need to do anything, my politeness resulted in a meal I could eat on the flight. I went from a travel mistake to a flight attendant saving the day. I would like to thank United for training this individual crew member for going out of his way to help. But just remember, it never hurts to ask for help.
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