Alaska Airlines accused of discriminating against gay couple in flight

Alaska airlines is in the hot seat today after a story came out regarding potential discrimination against a gay couple. LGBTQ activists are up in arms, but I think there’s a lot more to this story that is yet to be uncovered.

David Cooley, owner of the gay bar The Abbey in West Hollywood, alleges that they were forced to move from their premium class seats together to the main cabin in order to make room for a heterosexual couple. He shared his version of what happened in a public Facebook post yesterday.

The airline confirmed to news outlets that it was because of a seating error and nothing more nefarious. They’re doing more investigating on their end to find out what’s going on. BUT…

Alaska SkyWest First Class E75

My Take

Something is missing. Some details are missing. I don’t think David gave the full story as to what happened.

A couple points to take into account.

1. David says that he was sitting in his assigned seat. To me that implies that they were possibly upgraded to their seats? If they were upgraded and needed to be downgraded, this is a very common practice and happens quite often. It sucks, yes, but it’s common. My friend Aaron was just moved from first class to coach to accommodate someone in first class that needed the seat. He knew that he was upgraded and the seat was supposed to be assigned to a paid revenue passenger. It’s a mistake, and he was compensated accordingly.

2. Being a gay couple has nothing to do with you being moved. Sounds like the flight attendant came up and asked you to move. You wanted to sit together because you’re a couple. They apologized and said this other couple has those seats. Did they pay for them? Were you upgraded? We don’t know.

3. The other couple being straight has literally nothing to do with you being discriminated as a gay man. Fun fact. There are a lot of straight couples in today’s world. If I had a dollar for every time a straight couple got something before me, I would be in a penthouse suite every night. It’s not discrimination, it’s the law of large numbers.

Pride is in the Air Discount!

4. Alaska Airlines has one of the most LGBTQ friendly workplaces and environments I’ve seen. I almost feel like being gay has given us distinct ADVANTAGES when flying as the flight attendants tend to be more chatty and caddy that usual, especially since it seems to be an industry that has many LGBTQ employees.

I’m going to side with Alaska Airlines on this one until more details come out. I’m not doing it because I love Alaska or I fly them a lot, I’m doing it because you can’t always play the discrimination card when something doesn’t go your way.

If it turns out the employee who moved them is a raging homophobe, I will gleefully retract my story, but until then, let’s tone down the drama and Fly On.

What are your thoughts? Have you been discriminated for being LGBTQ, or anything else for that matter, on a flight?

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. We had a good discussion of this over on our miles and points Facebook group yesterday – I agree with you that something is missing in this story

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    • Like all good discrimination stories… if there wasn’t Drama, it wouldn’t sell!

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  2. And just to add, if the FA who did this WAS a raging homophobe I would expect AS to deal with it according to their policies and should not reflect that AS is a homophobic company.

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    • I highly doubt that he/she was. The facebook rant was already removed. If he was so confident about being discriminated he shouldn’t have removed his post.

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  3. the media is totally overreacting to this and I am a gay man. it has nothing to do with him being gay. I fly alaska 75 times a year and when there is a computer error assigning 2 seats to the same person they will go by elite status first then class of fare then by which has connections. to say this is discrimination is ludicrous. they should probably have asked for a volunteer but at worst this is poor customer service but it is not homophobia nor is it discrimination at all. the author from the original NBC story should be ashamed for the misleading headline

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  4. I am gay, MVP gold and my husband and I fly Alaska all the time. We have always been treated with great care. People over blow everything when things don’t go their way on a plane.

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  5. You may have missed the fact that they paid for 2 FC seats…it was not an upgrade as you seem to suggest.

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    • Hi Sam. His post clearly states Premium Class, which is most definitely not First, and nowhere does it say that they had paid for them, just that they were assigned those Premium Class seats. Just like we explained in the post, there are perfectly legitimate reasons for which someone can be downgraded from their assigned seats. Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. Sounds like the classic stereotype whining customer …. there was a perfectly legitimate reason they were moved …… it seems Mr Gay Flyer has the usual entitlement disorder

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