Alaska Airlines is investigating an incident after a gay couple was allegedly asked to give up their assigned seats so the airline could accommodate a heterosexual couple who wanted to sit together.
David Cooley, the founder of a West Hollywood gay bar known as The Abbey, took to Facebook on Sunday to claim that he and his partner were traveling on Alaska Airlines flight 1407 on Sunday from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to Los Angeles International Airport when he was approached by a flight attendant.
Cooley claims the flight attendant asked them to move from their assigned seats in Premium class to coach because a heterosexual couple wanted to sit together.
My companion was asked to move from his premium seat to coach, so a [heterosexual] 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.
Cooley says he’s “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,” he writes.
Alaska Airlines acknowledged the incident in a statement on Monday and said it was looking into it:
When boarding flight 1407 from JFK to LAX, a couple was mistakenly assigned the same seats as another couple in Premium Class. We reseated one of the guests from Premium Class in the Main Cabin. 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.