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Gay dads say Southwest denied them 'family boarding' courtesy

Grant Morse says his family was "profiled" by Southwest Airlines for being LGBT and denied family boarding.
Photo credit:
Grant Morse

Grant Morse is not happy with Southwest airlines today. He claims a boarding agent told him that he could not utilize the “family boarding” option with his husband, three children and 83-year-old mother in-law.

Last weekend, Southwest flight 1536 from Buffalo to Ft. Lauderdale was taking passengers according to their boarding protocol, and when they called for family boarding, Morse brought his group up to the queue..

“We approached the... ‘family boarding area’ as we have done many times,” Morse told HuffPost. “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.’”

Taken aback, Morse then stepped to the side and watched as a mother, father and toddler were allowed to board the flight.

Southwest claims that they did not deny the men and their sons early boarding, but the trouble was that the grandmother was not eligible to join them:

“Our Operations Agent at the gate 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.”

Morse continues to say that the agent did allow only one of the men to board with the children, the other staying back with the elderly woman.

Once aboard the 83-year-old woman had to sit in an exit row, while the two dads sat separately with the children; one parent sitting with two children and the other with one.

Morse claims that at the time, the Southwest agent did not explain the reasoning for not allowing them to board 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.”

Southwest denies this claim and say they acted according to policy.

“This conversation in the boarding area had nothing to do with discrimination; we welcomed both parents to board the aircraft with all of their children," they said in a statement

"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 while the conversation continued in the gate area.”

Morse does understand that the interpretation of the policy is vague and confusing, but his main concern was the way in which the Southwest employee reacted initially. 

"I feel as though we were profiled the minute we walked up the boarding area,” said Morse to WGRZ on Sunday. “This gate agent immediately approached my spouse and said this is for family boarding only, and my spouse looked up and said, ‘Well, we are a family. It's myself, my spouse, and our three children.’ She said it’s family boarding only and got very sarcastic.”