There’s absolutely no denying that we’ve made great strides when it comes to embracing members of the LGBTQ+ community. But as ever, we still have a long way to go. I mean, prejudice doesn’t go away overnight. But we are definitely on the way to quashing it as much as possible.
Unfortunately, there will always be certain situations, people or organizations that act inappropriately towards minorities. Remember that whole uproar, back in 2012, when it emerged that Chick-fil-A was donating money to organizations that oppose same-sex marriage?
Or when, in the same year, a bakery in Colorado refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple for religious reasons?
Well, it seems in the last couple of years, such instances of discrimination have been relatively minimal within the press.
But, unfortunately, Alaska Airlines is now being tarred with the same brush as the aforementioned establishments.
Indeed, the airline is currently in hot water over an incident which left them looking awkwardly outdated at best, and at worst, outrageously prejudiced.
Basically, a gay couple were told to make way for a straight couple (I know, right?), meaning they would have to be split up and sit separately.
This is David Cooley, one of the passengers involved in the incident:
In fact, not only would they have to sit separately, but it was demanded that one of them leave their premium seat for a seat in coach. They were also told that if they refused to do so, they would be kicked off the flight entirely.
This is what the ladies on The View had to say about the whole debacle:
And not that I’m taking sides or anything, but it does sound an awful lot like they had a sort of Rosa Parks situation going on. Pretty insane in this day and age.
To say the couple weren’t happy about it would be an understatement, and ultimately, they decided against flying with the airline after such despicable treatment. But they’re not the only ones who are outraged by the mere idea that this could happen in 2018.
Now, on the surface, it would seem they’re right to assume the incident was fuelled by blatant prejudice on the airline’s part, but it’s all a bit unclear. And it seems there might have been some sort of misunderstanding.
Much of this lack of clarity stems from the fact that we still don’t know what the true motivations of the flight attendant were. But the airline as a whole has a pretty phenomenal track record when it comes to all things LGBTQ.
In fact, they’ve even worked with dozens of nonprofit LGBTQ organizations, and have been involved in various Pride Parades. Plus they received a perfect score in the HRC’s Equality Index which rates various companies on how dedicated they are to the cause of equality.
They even have a page dedicated to gay travel on their website, so I think it’s pretty safe to assume they don’t have some sort of hidden anti-gay agenda by which they operate.
Watch the incredible moment a gay man took down an anti-gay preacher:
Anyway, the situation became a public affair when one of the two men at the center of it tweeted about the incident and the anger he felt at being discriminated against.
“I have never been so discriminated against while traveling before,” David Cooley, a businessman, and owner of a popular gay bar, wrote. “I was removed from an Alaska Airlines flight # 1407 from John F. Kennedy Airport to LAX to give preferential treatment to a straight couple.”
Included in the tweet was a screenshot of a lengthy piece of text in which he went into further detail about what went down on the flight.
“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.”
Unsurprisingly, the tweet went viral almost immediately, with thousands of sympathizers showing their solidarity with Cooley. A couple of days after the tweet, Cooley provided an update on the situation, explaining that Alaska Airlines had indeed reached out after the controversy.
“Thank you to everyone for all the support. Alaska Airlines has reached out, apologized, and we are discussing making things right. I accept Alaska’s apology and appreciate it addressing the situation.”
Alaska Airlines have since made a more public apology and have also said they are investigating the incident:
“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.”
There’s absolutely no denying that David Cooley was right to be outraged at the treatment he and his partner had been subjected to. The airline was clearly in the wrong, having messed up the seating arrangement. Plus it would appear that flight attendant handled the situation poorly.
But we should always avoid hastily citing calculated discrimination as the cause of a messy situation. We would need far information about went down to give such an accusation any real credence.
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