Gay couple 'humiliated' after claiming they were asked to move on a flight to accommodate a straight couple
It's summer, which means that it's pride season. Yes, when the sun comes out it's the time of year when the LGBT+ community takes to the streets to celebrate their identity, and also strike back against persecution. As gay issues have become more mainstream, and representation in the media has granted visibility and agency to queer people, many big businesses and corporate entities are showing their support by getting involved in pride events, to show that they have a zero-tolerance discrimination policy.
However, this week a Facebook post from a gay man has claimed that one such corporation, namely Alaska Airlines, were discriminatory towards him and his partner; asking them both to give up their premium seats (that they'd rightfully paid for) to a straight couple, and sit in the economy section while on a flight from New York City to Los Angeles.
Restaurant owner David Cooley wrote: "I have never been so discriminated against while traveling before. I was removed from an Alaska Airlines flight #1407 from John F. Kennedy International Airport to LAX to give preferential treatment to a straight couple. After my traveling companion and I had been seated in our assigned seats for a while, we were approached by the flight attendant and my companion was asked to move from his premium seat to coach, so a couple could sit together. I explained that we were a couple and wanted to sit together. He was given a choice to either give up the premium seat and move to coach or get off the plane."
He added: "We could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight and left the plane. I cannot believe that an airline in this day and age would give a straight couple preferential treatment over a gay couple and go so far as to ask us to leave. We will never be flying Alaska Airlines or their recently purchased Virgin Airlines Group ever again. Thank you to Delta Air Lines for getting us home safe. If you are an #LGBT person, please spend your travel dollars with an LGBT friendly airline like Delta."
In an official statement, the airline claimed: "This unfortunate incident was caused by a seating error, compounded by a full flight and a crew seeking an on-time departure, and nothing more than that. It's our policy to keep all families seated together whenever possible; that didn't happen here and we are deeply sorry for the situation. We've reached out to Mr Cooley to offer our sincere apologies for what happened and we are seeking to make it right."
David later updated his followers by stating that the Airline had responded to his prior post and had contacted him, stating: "Thank you to everyone for all the support. Alaska Airlines has reached out, apologised, and we are discussing making things right. I accept Alaska Airlines apology and appreciate it addressing the situation."
So it seems as though the issue has resolved itself, but it's still a frank and uncomfortable reminder of the many injustices that LGBT+ people routinely face today.