Yesterday I received a letter from my frequent flyer loyalty program of American Airlines. The purpose of the letter was to entice me to take a vacation to Miami or the Florida Keys. The second paragraph gave me an unexpected jolt:
“Miami is an international gateway, so it’s no surprise that the area is a melting pot of nationalities from all over the world. If you listen, you’ll notice unique accents and foreign languages everywhere you go. And Key West is proud to be known as a popular gay and lesbian destination. This pride, mixed with the inclusive and welcoming culture, is reflected in the island’s official motto: One Human Family.”
After reading that, I wanted to send them a letter of my own in response:
Dear Maya Leibman*,
Thank you so much for your informative letter concerning the merits of a Miami or Key West vacation. I am particularly appreciative that you shared with me that Key West was proud to be known as a popular gay and lesbian destination. However, as helpful as that is, your message is unclear. Was that a warning or a welcome?
How about sheep herders from Ethiopia? Including their sheep? I don’t mean to sound picky, but if I’m going to make an informed decision about the best place to vacation, I need to know if it’s as truly welcoming as you claim it is.
Okay, then. What about bagpipers? I have nothing against bagpipers, mind you. I even enjoy their music once in awhile. In small doses. I’m sure they are perfectly lovely people, but I’d rather not have “one of them” in the room next to me.
Are children part of the One Human Family campaign, too? We’ve raised our kids already, done our time, so to speak, and feel the little buggers should have their own vacation site, tailor-made for them and preferably far away from us.
In closing, I just want to thank you for giving us a heads-up on places that may or may not be suitable for our situation, wherever you think a 62-year-old white woman from the South may fit in this Human Family.
*President of the AAdvantage Loyalty® Program
I’ve been an American Airlines Advantage member for many years, and this letter was the first one I received where they felt a need to inform me that some vacation sites are good places for homosexuals to go. How sad that we only have pockets of places that make a certain segment of our population feel comfortable. If we are indeed One Human Family, why shouldn’t everyone feel comfortable everywhere?
I can’t fault American Airlines; they’re trying to sell tickets and they’re hoping that by telling people what communities cater to whom, people will feel more comfortable with the decisions they make. But why do they feel it’s necessary? Doesn’t that act in itself say there is a need to acknowledge safe havens because as a nation we aren’t so accepting of people from all ethnic backgrounds, all religions, and all sexual natures in all parts of the country?
This past weekend my husband and I joined some friends for a short vacation to Rehoboth Beach, a place none of us had ever been before. One evening we walked through a neighborhood with lovely homes and upscale restaurants. The night was clear and warm, and the street was filled with families, couples walking hand in hand or pushing a baby carriage. About half-way down the street we happened to take a good look at our fellow walkers and realized that most of them were men. No one had sent me a letter to “prepare” me. I don’t need to be prepared to walk with my One Human Family. That’s the way it should be.
Well said/written. 🙂
I wonder if the descriptions came from someone at American Airlines or from the communities themselves? Sometimes companies use the write-ups from the city for their descriptions.
Yes, it could be a write-up from Key West, but AA has control over what they put in that letter, and I was rather surprised and annoyed that they felt it was appropriate. Thanks for commenting, Robin.
Eloquently written. I think you should send Maya Leibman the letter with the URL to your post. True familiy members stand up for each other.
Just about everyone who commented on this post said I should send the letter. Your last sentence seals the deal. I’ll write her today, dear blogging friend.
Your post reminded me a couple articles that I read about the “global kids”. I’m thinking if these kids read this letter, they may think Miami is on another planet. The company needs to be told that we are in the 21st century (hello-). Thanks to your insights! Great post!
Hope Hurricane Irene will slow down when it moves to CT this weekend.
I think our boys in Boston are going to get hit harder than we will here in Virginia Beach, but we’ll see. They are evacuating Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina already. I think we’ll be just fine where we are. I’ve never read about the “global kids.” I’m going to Google it and see what I find. Thanks for your comment, Amy.
Irene is terrifying…
This is what I meant to say. The letter was so descriptive about the diversity, it sounded really awkward. Especially, today’s global kids are part of diversified world, and diversity is a norm to them. Your post prompted me to the articles I read. More and more kids are born in mixed culture families and kids in school are able to learn and communicate with other kids in other countries use the world-wide social networks and webcam. I used an irrelevant example to echo. Sorry about the confusion.
I think I got what you meant. The kids of today are exposed to diversity through so many avenues, the AA letter seemed unnecessary and awkward, as you said. We just expect that diversity to be everywhere, as it should. Is that right?
Hard to understand what’s in the mind of the corporate PR person…. oh, that’s right, must be some kind of money-making angle for them (not that I’m jaded). Not a bad idea to send a URL to the post. My blogging friend Ado at http://www.themomalog.com has gotten comments on her blog from Lands End and Comcast for blogs about inappropriate marketing/programming toward young girls.
I’m going to go online to see if their is a contact form on their site and send them my URL. Let’s see if they respond. Thanks, Julia.
You SHOULD send it – your response is perfect. I was so annoyed by how people responded when I told them DW and I were vacationing in Saugatuck, “You know that’s a very artsy town, right? It seems to be a strong gay community.” ARRRGGGHHH!! How about the beauty of the town or the unique shops or the amazing dunes and beaches? How about the fact that it has a very low crime rate? Thank you for raising me up to be a person that sees no difference in skin color, religion or sexual preferences. It makes life so much sweeter.
Thank you, Sweet Daughter. You learned the lesson well, and we have no doubt that your and DW’s lives will pass the message on to our granddaughters.
Oh yes please. Send it and see what they say. Funnily enough I often find myself on walks with most of the other walkers being men. I know you’ll find that quite a shock. I must say when I was in the US many years ago, I enjoyed myself no matter where I was (including LA). Because I’ve seen snow only a few times ever, I think that’s where I’d like to go again. I loved your story and will await the response from AA
Okay, GCB, I guess I’m really going to have to send them the letter now. LOL!
By the way, I do hope you’ll return to the US to see your snow. My sons live in Boston and that is a great place to visit.
Ha ha 😆 Yup it does sound like a warning. Did you get a reply?
Actually, I just wrote that letter for the blog. You think I should send it? Or just send them a link to my blog post?
You can write another short letter (like a tweet or something) including a short link (the wp.me one) to this post and send them. I’m just interested in seeing what their response would be.
I’ve never done a short link, but I’ll try to figure it out. Otherwise, I’ll send them a letter with the URL to this post. I’ll let you know if and when I get a response.