It’s practically one of the only free airline perks left when flying: if you’re traveling with your kids, you get to board early.
Apparently even this policy might be no longer on Southwest Airlines if you happen to be gay.
Grant Morse says he, his husband, and three kids have routinely been granted family boarding privileges when flying between Buffalo, New York and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But on a flight that took place yesterday, as the family was attempting to take advantage of the company’s family boarding policy, Morse says a Southwest employee prevented the family from doing so.
“This is for family boarding only,” the employee said according to an interview given by Morse to WGRZ. When Morse’s husband pointed out that they were, in fact, a family, the employee repeated it was for "families only" and “got very sarcastic.”
Only one of the men, Morse says, was then allowed to board with the children. Soon afterwards, Morse claims, two parents---a man and a woman---were allowed to board together with their child.
Southwest, for their part, released a statement saying that no discrimination in fact took place, and that the incident escalated because the family was attempting to pre-board with a third adult---the children’s grandmother. “We welcomed both parents to board the aircraft with all of their children,” said Brandy King, a spokesperson for Southwest. “The parents expressed disappointment that the Family Boarding policy was not applicable to another member of their group.”
The company also stipulates that their policy only allows for one adult to pre-board with children under the age of 6, though Morse says he and his husband had never previously been denied entry.
Regardless of what the policy says, which according to WGRZ is vague and open to interpretation, Morse says he is more concerned with the way he and his family were treated. The Southwest employee, he claims, never mentioned the one adult policy, but instead stressed that only “families” can board. Additionally, as a result of being denied pre-boarding, Morse, his husband, and his husband's 83-year-old mother---who he describes as “frail”---were all forced to sit separately.
This alleged incident is just the latest in a long string of customer service debacles plaguing the airlines in recent months. Most notably, last April, a customer on United Airlines was forcibly dragged of the aircraft after boarding to make room for the company’s own employees.
In an interview with Huffington Post, Morse says he is considering suing Southwest. “If an attorney tells me there’s a case, as of today I’ll probably move forward with it,” he said. “But I’ll make it clear that any proceeds will be donated to a charity to educate companies about prejudice. There’s no doubt in my mind this [incident] is discrimination.”
We’ll be sure to keep GWK readers posted as the story develops.