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Alaska Airlines Apologizes After Gay Couple Says They Were Separated for Straight Couple

Tuesday Jul 31, 2018

Alaska Airlines is apologizing after a gay man said he and his partner were separated on a recent flight in order to make room for a straight couple.

The allegations come from David Cooley, the owner of the popular gay club The Abbey in West Hollywood, who took to Facebook Sunday to recount the incident. In his post, he says he was "discriminated against" because "preferential treatment" was given 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," Cooley wrote. "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."

He went on to say: "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."

Alaska Airlines initially gave a statement to Gay Star News, acknowledging the incident but has since released another statement apologizing and stressing its efforts to promote LGBTQ equality.

"We mistakenly booked two people in one seat. We are deeply sorry for the situation, and are investigating the details," the company in a statement to CBS News, adding it has a "zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind."

"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," the statement goes on to say. "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.

"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," Alaska Airlines added. "We'll keep building on this commitment, with our employee-led LGBTQ business resource group."

It does not appear that Cooley has responded to Alaska Airlines' statements. Read his Facebook post in full below.


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