PR nightmare

Alaska Airlines scrambling to do damage control after ordering gay couple to give up their seats

It’s been a crappy few days for Alaska Airlines. It’s currently in the middle of a PR nightmare and it doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.

The trouble started over the weekend when David Cooley took to Facebook to accuse the airline of ordering him and his partner out of their assigned seats to accommodate a straight couple.

Cooley and his parter were flying from New York to Los Angeles over the weekend. They had purchased two premium class seats next to each other. After settling into their assigned seats, a flight attendant approached.

Related: Gay couple forced to give up seats on Alaska Airlines flight to accommodate straight couple

Cooley writes:

My companion was asked to move from his premium seat to coach, so a [heterosexual] 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 have never been so discriminated against while traveling before. I was removed from an Alaska Airlines flight # 1407…

Posted by David Cooley on Sunday, July 29, 2018

As Cooley’s story went viral, a public outcry ensued.

Yesterday, Alaska Airlines issued a statement saying that it was looking into the matter:

When boarding flight 1407 from JFK to LAX, a couple was mistakenly assigned the same seats as another couple in Premium Class. 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.

Today, the airline has issued another statement, this time saying it was committed to making things right with Cooley and then pointing to its participation in various gay Pride events as well as its perfect score in the HRC’s Equality Index as examples of how its not homophobic:

This unfortunate 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. 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. Alaska Airlines has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind. All of us at Alaska value inclusion for our guests and each other. 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.

What do you think? Do you accept Alaska Airlines explanation and apology? Sounds off in the comments section below…