Actress Leisha Hailey, known for her work on lesbian-centric television show “The L-Word,” claimed that she was escorted off a flight operated by Southwest Airlines this week because she is gay.
“I have been discriminated against by @SouthwestAir. Flt. attendant said that it was a “family” airline and kissing was not ok,” Hailey tweeted Monday afternoon.
Hailey is also a member of electro-pop band Uh Huh Her, and tweeted about the ordeal on the band’s Twitter account.
Southwest released an official statement on the company blog.
“Initial reports indicate that we received several passenger complaints characterizing the behavior as excessive,” the statement reads. “Our crew, responsible for the comfort of all Customers on board, approached the passengers based solely on behavior and not gender. The conversation escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground, as opposed to in flight. We regret any circumstance where a passenger does not have a positive experience on Southwest and we are ready to work directly with the passengers involved to offer our heartfelt apologies for falling short of their expectations.”
Hailey, on the Uh Huh Her Twitter account, responded directly to the statement.
“@SouthwestAir I didn’t realize a small peck on the lips is regarded as excessive and never once did your stewardess mention other passengers,” she tweeted.
Southwest, on its website, makes specific claims of being an LGBT-friendly airline.
“At Southwest Airlines, we take pride in our outreach and commitment to the GLBT community,” reads a statement on the site. “We have community partnerships with a variety of local and national organizations who are dedicated to GLBT causes and initiatives.”
According to the site, Southwest is the official airline of advocacy groups such as GLAAD, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
“We look forward to welcoming you onboard soon,” the statement concludes.
GLAAD has not taken a public stance on the ordeal, but issued a brief statement that hinted that the anti-defamation group may alter their relationship with the airline.
“GLAAD contacted Southwest to call for additional actions beyond tonight’s statement that ensure all customers feel comfortable and welcomed while traveling,” said Herndon Graddick, GLAAD’s senior director of programs.