Grant Morse, his husband, three kids, and the children’s grandmother (83) were turned away from Southwest Airlines’ “family boarding” privileges last weekend. Morse and his family were flying from Buffalo to Fort Lauderdale and when the gate agent called for family boarding, the family stepped up as they have done many times before. However, this time, the gate agent said the entire group couldn’t board, but wouldn’t give them a specific reason why. Morse believes the gate agent was being discriminative toward his LGBT family.
Morse told HuffPost: “We approached the… ‘family boarding area’ as we have done many times. The boarding agent assertively approached and said, ‘This is family boarding.’ My husband responded, ‘We know, we are a family.’ She said,‘Not all can go. This is family boarding.’”
After being turned away, a family with a mother, father, and toddler were then allowed to board with family boarding.
Southwest’s rules state that one adult can board with children with family boarding privileges, “but typically our employees allow both parents to board,” said a Southwest spokesperson. They also added that the reasoning behind their denial to board wasn’t LGBT-related, but because the grandmother tried to board with them.
Morse told Huffpost that the grandmother, at 83, requires assistance, but didn’t state whether they had requested assistance for her when booking the flight.
Southwest released this statement:
“Our Operations Agent informed two parents that another member of their group was ineligible to board under Family Boarding and asked that she board in her assigned boarding group. This conversation in the boarding area had nothing to do with discrimination, we welcomed both parents to board the aircraft with their children. The parents expressed disappointment that the Family Boarding policy was not applicable to another member of their group. The two parents did not agree with our policy, and our Flight Crew worked to save seats together on the aircraft for the family as the conversation continued in the gate area.”
Morse said that eventually Southwest allowed one parent to board with the children and they were unable to all sit together.
“Never once did they say, ‘You two fathers and you three kids can board, and grandma has to wait over there,’” Morse said. “I feel all they’re doing is trying to cover up discrimination right now.”
He added, “If an attorney tells me there’s a case, as of today I’ll probably move forward with it. 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.”