Alaska Airlines are facing the wrath of the outraged on social media, after a seating mix-up involving a gay couple having to split up to make way for a heterosexual couple caused quite the kerfuffle.
The airline, which actually has an inclusive approach to LGTBQ rights, working with “dozens of nonprofit LGBTQ organizations, and being involved in Pride Parades along the West Coast,” has apologized profusely for the mix-up, saying it was “caused by a seating error, compounded by a full flight and a crew seeking an on-time departure and nothing more than that.”
However by then, much of the damage had already been done. It began with a furious tweet from David Cooley, a restaurant owner from Los Angeles, who said he had felt discriminated against because of his sexual orientation. The tweet immediately went viral, with thousands offering their support to David and vowing to ‘never fly with Alaska Airlines again.”
Nobody knows the true motivations of the flight attendent at the center of the dispute, but judging from Alaska Airlines’ previous record of a perfect score in the HRC’s Equality Index, even having a page dedicated to gay travel on their website, it’s safe to assume that there is no hidden agenda of discrimination rife in the airline. David Cooley recently drew a line under the situation, with this message: “Thank you to everyone for all the support. Alaska Air has reached out, apologized, and we are discussing making things right. I accept Alaska’s apology and appreciate it addressing the situation.”
So there we have it. A case of rightous indignation spreading like wildfire, without any knowledge of the details and context. Sure, the airline made a mess of the seating situation and the attendant most likely handled it badly. But to suggest deliberate, calculated discrimination? We would need far more information about the situation before passing judgement on that. The episode shows that even the most conscientious companies can face hugely damaging public backlash from minor misunderstandings and inconveniences, which can quickly get out of control as people tweet and retweet their outrage and ‘support,’ context be damned! Scroll down to see how it unfolded for yourself below, and let us know what you think in the comments!
David Cooley, the owner of a popular gay bar in LA, and his partner were approached by a flight attendant while waiting for the plane to board
His companion was asked to move from a premium seat to coach so that a straight couple could sit together
Image credits: InSapphoWeTrust
David informed the flight attendant that they were a couple as well but the response he got was not what he expected
Alaska Airlines later apologized
And claimed to have zero-tolerance for discrimination of any kind
Here’s how people reacted