SEATTLE (AP) — Alaska Airlines faces outrage from people on social media after a gay couple had to give up seats on a New York City-Los Angeles flight to make room for a straight couple.
The Seattle Times reports the couple accepted an apology Tuesday from the airline, which said there was a seating mistake not reflective of disrespect in Sunday’s incident.
David Cooley said he and his traveling companion were in their assigned seats when a gate agent asked his companion to give up his seat and move so another couple could sit together.
Coley, owner of a popular upscale gay bar in the West Hollywood section of Los Angeles, recounted the incident in posts on Facebook and Twitter.
Although Cooley said he protested that the two men were also a couple and wanted to sit together, he said the agent insisted that his traveling companion had to either move to coach or get off the plane.
The couple took a flight on another airline.
“We could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight and left the plane,” Cooley wrote in his posts. “I have never been so discriminated against while traveling.”
Henry Harteveldt, an airline analyst with Atmosphere Research Group, said Seattle-based Alaska had previously earned a reputation as a gay-friendly airline.
“As an airline analyst who has known Alaska for a long time, and who also happens to be gay, I know that Alaska and Virgin America are two of the most supportive airlines in the business of their LGBT employees and the LGBT community,” Harteveldt said.
Alaska posted an apology on social media that said “this unfortunate incident was caused by a seating mix-up on a full flight.”
“It’s our policy to keep all families seated together whenever possible,” Alaska’s response continued. “That didn’t happen here. We are deeply sorry for the situation and did not intend to make Mr. Cooley and his partner feel uncomfortable in any way.”