Airline says gay couple booted from seats was ‘unfortunate error’

‘It was an unfortunate error, nothing more’: Alaska Airlines apologizes to gay couple kicked out of their seats so straight couple could sit together, but flat out DENY homophobia was the reason

  • Alaska Airlines deny a gay couple was discriminated against when one of them was kicked out of their seat on a flight so a straight couple could sit together 
  • David Cooley and his partner were travelling from JFK to LAX on Sunday
  • They were seated in premium class and his partner was asked to move to coach
  • Feeling discriminated against, they instead left the plane and got another flight
  • Alaska Airlines said in a statement on Tuesday that it was an ‘unfortunate error’
  • The company said the flight was full and the crew was trying to depart on time when it mistakenly asked Cooley’s partner to give up his seat and move to coach 

Alaska Airlines is denying a gay couple was discriminated against when they were told to leave their seats so a straight couple could sit together, saying in a statement that it was nothing more than an ‘unfortunate error’. 

David Cooley, who runs two gay nightclubs in Hollywood including The Abbey, posted on Facebook that he and his partner were flying from JFK in New York to LAX when a flight attended asked his companion to move seats so another couple, who are straight, could be seated together. 

Cooley said he was humiliated and called out the airline for giving ‘preferential treatment’ to the straight couple. 

Alaska Airlines responded to the claims saying in a statement that the incident was ’caused by a seating error, compounded by a full flight and a crew seeking an on-time departure and nothing more than that’. 

David Cooley said he and his partner were flying from New York JFK to LAX when a flight attendant asked his companion to move seats

Cooley said in a tweet on Tuesday that he accepted their apology and he is ‘discussing making things right’ 

The company added: ‘It’s our policy to keep all families seated together whenever possible; that didn’t happen here and we are deeply sorry for the situation. We’ve reached out to Mr. Cooley to offer our sincere apologies for what happened and we are seeking to make it right.

Diversity and inclusion are part of the fabric of Alaska Airlines. We are an airline for everyone and reflect these values through our work with dozens of nonprofit LGBTQ organizations, Pride Parades along the West Coast and a perfect score in the HRC’s Equality Index. We’ll keep building on this commitment, with our employee-led LGBTQ business resource group.’ 

Cooley said in a tweet that he accepted the airliner’s apology and are ‘discussing making things right’. 

Cooley owns gay LA nightclub The Abbey, where he was pictured with Diana Ross in January

In a Facebook post on Sunday, an outraged Cooley said he tried to explain that he and his partner were a couple and wanted to remain seated together but the flight attendant booted the guy from a premium seat to coach.   

‘He was given a choice to either give up the premium seat and move to coach or get off the plane.’

Cooley said he had never before been so discriminated against while traveling.


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‘We could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight and left the plane,’ he said, adding that they got a Delta flight instead.

‘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 ever again.’

Alaskan Airlines said it mistakenly booked two people in the same seat and denied it discriminated against the pair

Cooley went viral with his story after sharing this post on Facebook

Alaskan confirmed the incident happened and apologized to Cooley and his partner, but denied they were discriminated against.

‘We are truly sorry this event occurred. We mistakenly booked two people in one seat,’ the airline told Cooley via Twitter.

‘I can assure you we are an inclusive airline and hold a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind in our workplace.’

Alaskan said it was investigating the issue and speaking to all involved to resolve the situation.

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