Just last month, Southwest Airlines promised to end the practice of overbooking flights in an effort to no longer inconvenience passengers who are bumped off when the airplanes reach maximum capacity.
Now, it seems the company has gone to extreme lengths to keep the passenger number in check, at least according to a Florida family.
Grant Morse told Huffington Post he and his husband weren’t allowed to use their family boarding privileges on a Southwest flight on Saturday (May 20) and that he suspects this was because the two are same-sex partners.
Singled Out For Being Gay?
The family had traveled, along with their three children and one of the kids’ grandmother, from Buffalo to Fort Lauderdale Airport, as they often do.
But when the couple lined up to use their family boarding privileges like they had done many times in the past, they were denied access on the grounds that “this is for family boarding only,” Morse said.
The couple was reportedly stopped by a Southwest gate agent, who said the group was not allowed to board the plane but failed to provide a clear reason as to why this was.
Nevertheless, Morse believes he and his husband were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
“I feel as though we were profiled the minute we walked up the boarding area,” Morse told WGRZ on Sunday night.
He claimed his spouse was immediately approached by the gate agent, who “said it’s family boarding only and got very sarcastic.”
Morse recounted to Huffington Post that, right after his family was stopped at the boarding gate, a mother, father, and their toddler were permitted to board the Southwest flight together as a family.
Southwest Says Discrimination Wasn’t A Factor
On the other hand, a Southwest spokesperson stated the reason behind this incident had nothing to do with discrimination, but was in fact related to Morse’s mother-in-law, who wasn’t eligible for family boarding privileges.
Southwest’s family boarding policy, as posted on the airline’s website, states one adult can board with any traveler who is “6 years old or younger … during Family Boarding, which occurs after the ‘A’ group has boarded and before the ‘B’ group begins boarding.”
This means the airline’s rules permit one adult to board the plane with children, “but typically our employees allow both parents to board,” the spokesperson explained.
“This conversation in the boarding area had nothing to do with discrimination, we welcomed both parents to board the aircraft with their children,” the spokesperson told Huffington Post.
In addition, the Southwest rep mentioned the company’s flight crew strived to give the family seats together on the plane.
Yet Morse claims only one of the parents was allowed to board with the kids. One father was seated in one row together with two of the kids, whereas the other was seated in another row with the third child, and the grandmother had to sit alone in an exit row, Morse noted.
He points out the family was never told the five of them could board unimpeded and be joined later by the grandmother. Morse is convinced the airline is attempting to conceal bias.