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Gay Couple Say They Were Bumped From Airline Seats to Make Room for Straight Couple

Alaska Airlines says "this unfortunate incident was caused by a seating mix-up on a full flight"

What to Know

  • A gay couple flying from L.A. to New York say they were bumped from the premium seats they paid for to make way for a straight couple
  • They say a flight attendant on Alaska Airlines asked one of them to move to a seat in coach or get off the plane; the couple deplaned
  • Alaska Airlines apologized, saying "this unfortunate incident was caused by a seating mix-up on a full flight"

A gay couple say they were forced to give up their assigned premium-class seats on a flight from Los Angeles to New York so that the seats could be turned over to a straight couple. 

Businessman David Cooley, who owns the iconic Los Angeles gay bar The Abbey, according to NBC News, said in a public Facebook post that he and his traveling companion were sitting in their assigned seats on Alaska Airlines last weekend when a flight attendant approached them and asked the companion to move to a seat in coach "so a couple could sit together." 

"I explained that we were a couple and wanted to sit together," Cooley wrote. "He was given a choice to either give up the premium seat and move to coach or get off the plane." 

Cooley and his companion decided they "could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight," so they deplaned and took another flight on Delta. 

"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 said. 

Alaska Airlines said a seating mix-up on a full flight caused the "unfortunate incident," and apologized. 

"It's our policy to keep all families seated together whenever possible. That didn't happen here. We are deeply sorry for the situation and did not intent to make Mr. Cooley and his partner feel uncomfortable in any way," the airline said, adding that it's reached out to Cooley to apologize, refund his ticket and "make this right."

"Alsaks Airlines has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind," it said. "All of us at Alaska value inclusion for our guests and each other."

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