Over the weekend, Alaska Airlines allegedly forced a prominent gay businessman and his partner to switch seats so a straight couple could sit together in the seats they were occupying in the plane’s “premium” section.
Gay Star News reported that Los Angeles businessman David Cooley was flying from New York back to LA when he and his partner, who had already been seated in their assigned premium seats “for a while,” were approached by a flight attendant.
“My companion was asked to move from his premium seat to coach, so a couple could sit together,” Cooley wrote in a Facebook post about the incident. “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.”
Cooley and his partner “could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight” so they 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,” he wrote. “I have never been so discriminated against while traveling before.”
.@AlaskaAir I have never been so discriminated against while traveling before. I was removed from an Alaska Airlines flight # 1407 from John F. Kennedy Airport to LAX to give preferential treatment to a straight couple. #LGBTQ #AlaskaAir #JFK #discrimination pic.twitter.com/Os9JWM4aQt# p #6_10 # ad skipped = true #
— David Cooley (@DavidCooleyLA) July 29, 2018# p #7_10 # ad skipped = true #
When contacted by GSN, Alaska Airlines said the businessman and his partner were “mistakenly assigned the same seats as another couple in Premium Class.”
“We reseated one of the guests from Premium Class in the Main Cabin,” the airline’s statement read.
In his posts on Twitter and Facebook, Cooley — owner of the popular West Hollywood club The Abbey — implored his followers to boycott Alaska Airlines and Virgin Airlines, the company it just purchased. He noted that they booked flights through Delta, who he called an “LGBT friendly airline” worthy of patronage.