Two gay dads from New York claim they were subjected to “blatant discrimination” when they attempted to board a Southwest flight at the weekend.
Grant Morse, his husband Sam, their three children and Mr Morse’s 83-year-old mother-in-law were flying from Buffalo to Fort Lauderdale in Florida.
Mr Morse told HuffPost that when they stepped up for “family boarding” they were denied.
A Southwest gate agent told them their entire group couldn’t board, though Mr Morse said the agent was initially vague about the reason.
“We approached the … ‘family boarding area’ as we have done many times,” he said. “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.’”
Mr Morse said after his family was turned away, a mum, dad and toddler were then allowed to board together as a family.
A spokesperson for Southwest told HuffPost that Mr Morse’s family was declined because his husband’s mother attempted to board with them.
Southwest rules allow one adult to board with children, “but typically our employees allow both parents to board,” the spokesperson said.
The airline denied in a statement that discrimination was a factor: “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.”
Mr Morse said what upset him was seeing another family enter the plane during family boarding while his family was made to stand to the side.
“I felt like I was a criminal and I was humiliated,” he said.
Mr Morse claimed that through it all gate agents did not explain the reason for the shuffle.
“Never once did they say, ‘You two fathers and you three kids can board, and grandma has to wait over there,’” he said.
“I feel all they’re doing is trying to cover up discrimination right now.”