It was a mistake! That’s the response from Alaska Airlines to a complaint from David Cooley, the owner of The Abbey, about having his friend forced out of a premium seat on a flight from New York City to L.A.
“When boarding flight 1407 from JFK to LAX, a couple was mistakenly assigned the same seats as another couple in Premium Class,” Alaska Airlines said. “We reseated one of the guests from Premium Class in the Main Cabin. We are deeply sorry for the situation, and are investigating the details while communicating directly with the guests involved to try and make this right. Alaska Airlines has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind, and our employees value inclusion for our guests and each other.”
In a post on Facebook yesterday, Cooley called for a boycott of Alaska Airlines after a flight attendant insisted Cooley’s traveling companion give up the premium class seat to accommodate a heterosexual couple.
“I have never been so discriminated against while traveling before,” Cooley said in his Facebook post on his Facebook page. “I was removed from an Alaska Airlines flight # 1407 from John F. Kennedy International Airport to LAX to give preferential treatment to a straight couple. After my traveling companion and I had been seated in our assigned seats for a while, we were approached by the flight attendant and my companion was asked to move from his premium seat to coach, so a couple could sit together. 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. We could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight and 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. We will never be flying Alaska Airlines or their recently purchased Virgin Airlines Group ever again. Thank you to Delta Air Lines for getting us home safe. If you are an #LGBT person, please spend your travel dollars with an LGBT friendly airline like Delta.”
GayLifeLA.com has reached out to Cooley for more information on the incident. He has not yet responded.
While Cooley reported a poor experience with Alaska Airlines, it generally is ranked as the No. 1 airline in the United States when it comes to customer service.
Alaska Airlines also has a reputation for supporting LGBT causes. It sponsors Frameline, the longest running LGBT film festival in the Bay Area, as well as the Seattle Gay Men’s Chorus and the Three Dollar Bill Cinema, a film company in Seattle, where Alaska is headquartered. The company also has set up a resource group called GLOBE [Gay Lesbian Or Bisexual Employees] for LGBT employees and supporters.
It also is known for offering free flights on Alaska Airlines after the Pulse gay club massacre in Orlando, Fla., to the immediate family members of those killed or injured as well as spouses or domestic partners of the victims and their immediate families. Alaska Airlines made a $25,000 contribution to a fund created to assist survivors of the shooting and the families of those killed.
Sue them for everything they have.
Not sure if there was discrimination or not, but regardless once you board and are in your seat you should not have to move to accommodate passengers that must have been late to the gate for this situation to happen. For everyone who is arguing that the married couple should be seated together, I say they are married are going to spend their whole life together, so they can be separated on the plane for a few hours. Davids companions should have been asked if he would move as a courtesy but should be able to decline. The option to… Read more »
Anyone know the name of his partner/companion; its conspicuously absent and I’d like to hear their take as I am planning travel.
As the flags in WeHo are flying at half staff/mast today, a sign of distress, one can only believe that it’s due to this international incident with Alaska Airlines. The community is strong and thus we shall heal from these wounds that cut so deep. : – )
BEST COMMENT ON HERE, LMAO
two old men…….do not equal a family. sorry.
totally support gays rights……….but lets be real.
They are a couple just like the two straight people are a couple. No one ever said anything about family.
Family is relative. Family to you may mean something different to someone else, but family is more than blood relation mother father child siblings etc.
Your definition of ‘family’ is not everybody’s. And how is it even relevant, when the question is about a gay couple or a straight couple – no kids mentioned? If you think two straight people = family while two gay men or lesbians doesn’t, you’re promoting second-class status for gays; and why is their age – ‘two old men’ you called them – relevant in any way, other than to suggest you have dubious standards where age is concerned?
What is “real” is that you don’t support gay rights.
There are many kind of families. This is one of them. Lets work with them rather than against them, before someone infringes on your rights.
You don’t support gay rights or you wouldn’t say stuff like that. That’s one of the biggest, if not, IS the biggest argument gay rights activists have — we are family when we are coupled in union just as straight couples are. Imagine not getting the home you shared with your significant other because laws didn’t protect you and it meant you were not as important as a straight widow or widower. That’s one of the main reasons we demanded rights. You literally just said that we’re not the same or equal to straight couples — hence you would not… Read more »
Boycott the Abbey!
I don’t think this is discrimination, David Cooley more than likely did not pay for his “Companions” or “Friend’s” seat. More than likely he used his miles and they got bumped for a full fair seat. Oh well, what do you expect from someone who claims the title of the best Gay Bar in the US, then sales the same Gay Bar for 15 Million, then says the Abbey is Gay-Friendly, then buys it back and say’s oh we are a Gay Bar again. lol I think Mr. Cooley not only Sold The Gay Community Out along with his bar,… Read more »
Once on the plane, the seat you were given should remain yours. If the couple got there late then they should have been happy getting any seat on the plane. Alaska does a great job supporting the LGBTQ community but sounds like some flight attendants need some training. Also, Alaska should be comping these guys first class tickets as an apology.
Wait, I’m confused: multiple times in this article his companion was described as a “friend,” yet when confronted by the flight attendant he insisted they were now magically a couple? Sorry, but I’ve switched seats many times so a married couple could stay together, it’s just good manners. I know this Airlines, and I know the lengths they go to support LGBTQ rights as well as the sort of compensation they would have offered both passengers for the inconvenience. Mr. Cooley sounds like an individual that goes through life looking for offense. I understand how frustrating commercial travel can be,… Read more »
Mr. Cooley may have become successful in many things material but unfortunately not as a successful human being. A childish, entitled reaction was his choice with overtones potentially leading to a more enhanced claim. If he had played the diplomatic card rather than his insecurities, all may have turned out well.
He revealed himself.
If he and his partner were in assigned upgraded seats, as it seems that they were. The flight attendant was in the wrong. Alaska Airlines, as they have done, have apologized. And you sir are the one in the wrong and you sir are showing your own biased bigotry.
This story clearly has nothing to do with discrimination. People who pay for their seats have preference over upgrade seats. That is what happened. This Cooley character is just trying to have a payday and a little fame.
First he doesn’t need a payday and second he is already in the limelight. You obviously have a preconceived opinion or are ill informed
Go on, Mr Watters, just admit you look down on gays as ‘less than’.
Okay I see bigger problems in life. Homeless. Fires. Guns. Meth. No pain relief for my back except operation but not covered. But airlines lowest on list. We are cattle to them. They make us hurry up and wait. Sometimes 2 hours sometimes 12 or more. But Delta let on a drunk person that threw up over four to five rows. Our 3 pm became 8 pm. I got up and left and was told I could. At which point I pretend to barfed. I missies my show and missed Hamilton. Total losses around $4,000. And nothing I could do… Read more »
Scott, I don’t know your situation but there is always a solution for most back problems and it’s often NOT surgery (which often makes it worse). Develop your core, get massages, hire a trainer, change your mattress, get out of back breaking/stressful employment and relationships, etc. I had the worse back pain known to man. I recovered. It was connected to old trauma. There are alternative therapies out there that work that allow one to heal the mindbody. I sympathize. Never give up on a holistic solution.