Gay couple on Alaska Airlines told to leave so that straight couple could sit together
A gay man has accused Alaska Airlines of "preferential treatment" after a flight attendant asked his partner to move so that a straight couple could sit together. The incident reportedly occurred on Sunday during a flight from New York to Los Angeles.
The incident came to light after David Cooley, the founder of a famous gay bar called the Abbey in LA, shared his experience on the flight through a Facebook post. Cooley said that he and his partner were sitting in premium seats when a flight attendant approached them and asked his partner to give up his seat and sit in coach, according to reports.
Cooley, in the post, added that he even explained to the attendant that his companion was his romantic partner and that they would like to sit together but the attendant, in turn, told them that they'd have to leave the plane if they did not cooperate.
"He was given a choice to either give up the premium seat and move to coach or get off the plane. We could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight and left the plane," Cooley said, adding that the duo found another flight to LA on Delta Airlines.
"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," Cooley said in his Facebook post.
His emotional post garnered over 1,500 shares and 3,500 reactions on the social networking site as Facebook users were up in arms against such a treatment and slammed the airlines.
Alaska Airlines spokesperson, Oriana Branon, released a statement and said that the entire episode was just a "seating error," according to HuffPost.
"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," Branon said.
"We’ve reached out to Mr. Cooley to offer our sincere apologies for what happened and we are seeking to make it right," she added, saying that the airlines has a "zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind."
"Diversity and inclusion are part of the fabric of Alaska Airlines," Branon said. "We are an airline for everyone and reflect these values through our work with dozens of nonprofit LGBTQ organizations, Pride Parades along the West Coast and a perfect score in the HRC’s Equality Index. We’ll keep building on this commitment, with our employee-led LGBTQ business resource group."