A two-mom family claims that they were blatantly discriminated against by a flight attendant while on a Qantas flight. Qantas is, “Australia’s largest domestic and international airline” and has an openly gay CEO, Alan Joyce.
Kristina Antoniades, a 35-year-old lawyer, and her partner Merrin Hicks were traveling with their daughter on a Qantas flight from Brisbane to Melbourne. They had booked three consecutive seats so that they could all sit together. Before boarding, Hicks was called over the intercom and asked to meet at customer service. She was told that Qantas was moving her to another row so that a wife and husband could be seated together. Antoniades argued with the customer service agent, saying that the husband and wife did not have priority over their family and eventually Hicks was given back her original boarding pass with her pre-booked seat. Antoniades said in a Facebook post: “They did not acknowledge that we were a family and wanted to sit together.”
However, instead of leaving it at that, Qantas personnel continued to pester the couple. After the plane took off a flight manager approached the two mothers and asked why Hicks was seated next to the husband and his wife was sitting behind him. Apparently the flight manager asked Antoniades why she had, “taken it upon herself to move the wife away from the husband.”
Antoniades told the flight manager that her family was in their designated seats, but the flight manager asked for their boarding passes, before once again asking the mothers why they wouldn’t let the husband and wife sit together. Antoniades had to explain again that Hicks was her partner, they were with their daughter, and were a family. The flight manager walked away without apology and apparently did not consider that her narrow-minded notion of what “family” is prompted her homophobic and discriminatory actions toward these two mothers and their family.
“I was in tears as I was humiliated…It was a terrible experience and I am saddened that our daughter had to witness this,” said Antoniades. She contended that there are great employees at Qantas that she personally knows, but felt the need to share this story because the two employees she did speak with, showed “blatant homophobia and discrimination” toward her family.
The husband and wife that are referred to were in their 50s and 60s and were not hindered by their age. Actually, the husband told Antoniades that he was fine with her and her wife being sat together with their daughter and did not appear upset that he wasn’t seated with his own wife.
Qantas did reach out to the couple and called the experience a “misunderstanding.” They offered the moms extra frequent flyer points. Hicks and Antoniades have not received an apology from the flight attendant.
Currently, mothers like Hicks and Antoniades, plus thousands of other LGBT couples are not able to legally marry in Australia.