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Gay couple forced to move plane seats to make way for straight couple to sit together

Written by gaytourism

An Alaska Airlines plane at LAX Airport (Photo: Kevin Wilt | CreativeCommons2.0)

Alaska Airlines says it is investigating a mistake in which a gay couple were told they had to switch seats to make way for a heterosexual couple who wished to sit together.

David Cooley is a well-known gay businessman. He’s the founder and CEO of West Hollywood gay hotspot, The Abbey.

Yesterday, he was flying from New York to Los Angeles. However, what should have been a smooth journey was seriously disrupted when his partner was instructed that he had to move from his Premium seat to the main cabin. It was either that or leave the plane.

The pair were informed that another couple wish to sit together. Cooley posted about the incident to his Facebook page.

‘I have never been so discriminated against while traveling before. I was removed from an Alaska Airlines flight # 1407 from John F. Kennedy International Airport to LAX to give preferential treatment 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.

Getting off the plane

‘I explained that we were a couple and wanted to sit together,’ Cooley says. ‘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.’

David Cooley is the CEO of The Abbey in West Hollywood

David Cooley is the CEO of The Abbey in West Hollywood (Photo: David Cooley/Facebook)

Alaska mistake

In a statement to GSN, a spokesperson for Alaska Airlines acknowledged this incident had taken place. The airline is investigating what happened.

‘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.’

It is not known if any compensation was offered to Mr Cooley or his partner. GSN has contacted Mr Cooley for further details.

Alaska Airlines takes over Virgin

Alaska Airlines has previously been vocal in support of its LGBTI customers. In 2015, it promoted a range of discounts to destinations to coincide with LGBTI Pride festivals. It also has a dedicated LGBT section on its website.

In 2016, it bought Virgin America for $2.6billion. The two airlines merged in April of this year and Alaska is in the process of slowly rebranding Virgin America as Alaska – a process it hopes to fully complete next year.

See also

Diana Ross and son party at famous gay club

Alaska Airlines promotes discounts for LGBTI travelers

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