Southwest Airlines facing possible Lawsuit over Denied Boarding
It’s no secret that in today’s digital age, news travels fast. Everyone has a cell phone with a video camera, and access to fast upload speeds to get those videos to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and a lot of other avenues to share both positive AND negative news in the blink of an eye. The latest drama now puts Southwest in the crosshairs, and Southwest Airlines now might be facing a possible lawsuit over a denied boarding allegation.
Southwest Airlines denied boarding to a married couple and their three children this weekend, and one of the fathers isn’t having any of it. He’s considering a discrimination lawsuit and he might just have a case.
So, why were they denied boarding?
Daniela Costa writes in her article about the details:
Grant Morse, his mother, his husband Sam and their kids were scheduled to fly from Buffalo to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday. They were waiting in the family boarding area before their flight only to be told they needed to leave by a gate agent.
“This is for family boarding only,” Morse says the agent told his husband. He describes being “aggressively” told they would not be able to board, this even after they explained they are a family and had legal documentation affirming so.
“This is only for families,” the agent reportedly repeated.
Morse and his family stood their ground and tried to board with the other families once again, but were stopped by the same agent, who allegedly said, “This is for family boarding only and you are not permitted to board. This is only for family, and I told you that already.”
Once the family did board, they were separated. Their five-year-old had to sit between two strangers in a row alone while Morse sat in the back with his three-year-old twins and his husband sat alone a few rows in front of them. Morse’s elderly mother sat alone near an emergency exit.
Ouch. This is NOT what Southwest needed right now, especially in today’s high strung environment with everyone’s, including members of congress’ eyes, on the airlines.
The family was also interviewed by local TV station WKBW where they stated that heterosexual couples with small children were allowed to board during the family boarding process, but they were made to stand to the side and wait.
Southwest’s policy from their website states clearly:
- An adult traveling with a child six years old or younger may board during Family Boarding, which occurs after the “A” group has boarded and before the “B” group begins boarding. If the child and the adult are both holding an “A” boarding pass, they should board in their assigned boarding position.
Shame on your Southwest… they are stating that they were not allowed to board because of the 83 year old mother in the group. In any case, that woman, if she required more time to board the aircraft, would be allowed to board BEFORE anyone, so boarding with the family for extra assistance should have been a no brainer. If she doesn’t want to walk down the jetbridge by herself, then she should be allowed to board with the family, especially if they are, indeed, a family.
I understand that policies are in place for a reason, but a company should also empower their employees to make the necessary adjustments when situations arise. We don’t need to look very far back to see what happened with United Airlines to try and understand why airlines don’t need anymore negative press.
For a company who’s stock ticket symbol is LUV and claims to have a big heart, this was a huge fail.
What do you think? Was the gate agent justified in denying boarding to this family?