Alaska Airlines is now under due fire after asking a gay couple if they could separate so a straight couple could sit together.
David Cooley, the owner of a popular gay bar in LA, posted on Facebook after Alaska Airlines overbooked a flight and asked him and his partner to separate. Cooley wrote that his partner was asked to give up his premium seat and move to economy class so that a straight couple could sit next to each other.
When Cooley told the flight attendant that him and his partner were also a couple who wanted to sit together, nothing changed. They were still presented with the difficult choice: his partner would move to coach or they'd get off the plane.
Cooley wrote on Facebook:
"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. 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."
Cooley's post quickly went viral, and Alaska Airlines posted a follow-up apology.
"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 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 a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind."
While it appears that Alaska Airlines is trying to clean up this mess, Delta got some good PR in the meantime. Overbooking a flight is one thing, but specifically asking a gay couple to move for a straight couple, even after being informed they're a couple, is completely unacceptable.