This past weekend, a gay couple was forced to move from their seats on an Alaska Airlines plane to make room for a straight couple on the same flight.
David Cooley, a restaurant owner and CEO, took to Facebook yesterday to spread the word about the incident. He was flying from New York to Los Angeles with his partner in their assigned premium seating. All was going smoothly until a flight attendant came by and told his partner he’d have to move to the main cabin to accommodate a straight couple who wanted to sit together.
“I explained that we were a couple and wanted to sit together,” Cooley recalled. “[But my partner] was given a choice to either give up the premium seat and move to coach or get off the plane.”
Humiliated, Cooley and his partner chose to get off the plane and book another flight home with a different airline. The incident was harrowing for Cooley, who said he’d “never been so discriminated against while traveling before.”
“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.”
In a statement to Gay Star News, a rep from Alaska Airlines confirmed that the incident had occurred and claimed it was because of a seating mix-up:
When boarding flight 1407 from JFK to LAX, a couple was mistakenly assigned the same seats as another couple in Premium Class…We are deeply sorry for the situation, and are investigating the details while communicating directly with the guests involved to try and make this right. Alaska Airlines has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind, and our employees value inclusion for our guests and each other.
Meanwhile, Cooley and his partner have no plans to fly Alaska Airlines ever again—and encourage other members of the LGBTQ community to boycott the airline, too.
“Thank you to Delta Air Lines for getting us home safe,” Cooley added. “If you are an LGBT person, please spend your travel dollars with an LGBT-friendly airline like Delta.”