Leisha Hailey, of L- Word fame, is getting a lot of publicity after she was kicked off of a Southwest flight on Sunday and took to twitter to demand a boycott of the airline.
Why was she kicked off the plane?
That is the major point of contention. Hailey claims that she was removed from the aircraft in El Paso, Texas after a flight attendant stopped her from kissing her girlfriend, saying that it was a 'family' airline and kissing was not OK.
Southwest claims that the issue was best solved outside the plane and that passengers had complained about the kissing, characterizing it as excessive.
The conversation escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground, as opposed to in flight, the airline explained in a statement Tuesday morning.
We regret any circumstance where a passenger does not have a positive experience on Southwest and we are ready to work directly with the passengers involved to offer our heartfelt apologies for falling short of their expectation, Southwest added.
As the row got increasing media attention on Tuesday, both parties issued further statements.
In no way were our actions on Southwest Airlines excessive, inappropriate or vulgar. We want to make it clear we were not making out or creating any kind of spectacle of ourselves, it was one, modest kiss. We are responsible adult women who walk through the world with dignity. We were simply being affectionate like any normal couple. We were on the airplane less than 5 minutes when all was said and done, Hailey and her girlfriend Camila Grey said in a joint statement Tuesday afternoon.
We find it very disturbing that the same airline who lauds itself as being LGBT friendly has twisted an upsetting incident that happened into our behavior being 'too excessive,' they said, adding No matter how quietly homophobia is whispered, it doesn't make it any less loud. You can't whisper hate. We ask this airline to teach their employees to not discriminate against any couple, ever, regardless of their own beliefs.
They added that this was not an apology and that they were filing a formal complaint with the airline.
Southwest, which prides itself on being LGBT friendly, fought back with its own statement Tuesday evening.
Additional reports from our Employees and Customers onboard flight 2274 during a stop in El Paso on Sunday now confirm profane language was being used loudly by two passengers. At least one family who was offended by the loud profanity moved to another area of the cabin, the statement said. Although we have reports of what Customers characterize as an excessive public display of affection, ultimately their aggressive reaction led to their removal from the aircraft. We do not tolerate discrimination against anyone for any reason. In this situation, their removal was directly and solely related to the escalated conversation that developed onboard the aircraft.
Our tenets of inclusion and celebration of diversity among our Customers and Employees-including those in the LGBT communities-anchor our Culture of mutual respect and following the Golden Rule, the statement continued. The more than 100 million people who fly Southwest each year reflect the great diversity of our country and our Company - and ALL are valued and welcome. In fact, we've been recognized as a leader in diversity throughout our 40 years of service.
A passenger who was on the flight with Hailey confirms Southwest's account of the events. The passenger, who wished to remain unnamed, told IBTimes that the couple was not kicked off the plane for being gay.
They were being completely inappropriate with their vulgar language from the beginning, the passenger said.
They started off being upset that they were called over the loud speaker to catch the flight and then once on board, found out that there would be a 20-minute delay before taking off. They continued to use obscene language and make-out with each other in front of numerous small children around them. Finally, the flight attendant leaned in and politely asked them to tone down their behavior, which in turn set them off even more, crying 'discrimination.' The flight attendant even said to them that she would do the same if it were a hetero couple or gay male couple.
However, several celebrities have rushed in to defend Hailey on twitter.
Dear @SouthwestAir ur archaic thinking makes me sick! ur discrimination towards ur passengers is deplorable! i will NEVER fly southwest! Kelly Osbourne tweeted Wednesday morning.
This is a hoot @leisha_hailey @uhhuhhermusic Southwest Airlines The LUV Airline! the 'luv' airline. what kind of 'luv' are ya talkin bout? Sandra Bernhard tweeted.
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