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Alaska Airlines Bumps Gay Couple to Allow Straight Pair to Sit Together

Alaska Airlines claims it's their policy to keep families seated together; in this case it seems one family was perceived as more significant than another.

New Civil Rights Movement | August 1, 2018

Alaska Airlines is fanning the flames this week for asking a gay couple to separate in order to seat a straight couple together.

“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,” said Alaska Airlines passenger David Cooley.

Cooley owns the iconic LGBT bar The Abbey in L.A.

“I explained that we were a couple and wanted to sit together,” he added. “He was given a choice to either give up the premium seat and move to coach or get off the plane.”

Calling it an “overbooking situation,” Alaska has responded to the claims.

“We mistakenly booked two people in one seat. We are deeply sorry for the situation, and are investigating the details,” the company said in a statement.

The statement said Alaska Airlines has a “zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind.”

The statement further 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.”

Alaska Airlines has an employee resource group that is expected to look into the situation to thwart future copycat issues in the company.

“Diversity and inclusion are part of the fabric of Alaska Airlines. 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,” their statement said. “We’ll keep building on this commitment, with our employee-led LGBTQ business resource group.”

“We could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight and left the plane,” Cooley said “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.”

He implored his fellow travelers to spend their pink dollars on other airlines, such as Delta.

“Thank you to Delta Air Lines for getting us home safe,” he shared on Facebook. “If you are an #LGBT person, please spend your travel dollars with an LGBT friendly airline like Delta.”

Written by Sarah Toce, The New Civil Rights Movement. Photos via David Cooley/The Abbey on Facebook

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