Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Yet Another Airline Outrage Story - Or Not

Not a day goes by when those bastard airlines do something horrible.  Quick!  Post on Facebook!  Start a Gofundme Page!   Hire a Lawyer!  Be outraged!   Or maybe not.

Yet another airline outrage story in the paper today.  A gay married couple was denied family boarding privileges on Southwest Airlines recently.   The gate attendant and her supervisor said that the two men, their three children, and grandmother didn't qualify as a "family" and made them wait for regular boarding.

So the couple did what any savvy airline traveler would do today.  They blocked the jetway with their strollers, laid down and started singing "we shall overcome!" and then had to be dragged away by TSA, with one hitting their head on the podium, causing a nasty gash that required stitches.   The flight was delayed for four hours.

Actually, that last part didn't happen.  They realized, that, right or wrong, the agent and their supervisor were in charge of boarding, and now was not the time to lodge a protest or organize one.   They got on the plane, got to sit with their kids, and made their flight on time.   If they want to protest to Southwest, they can do so now, post pictures on Facebook, or whatever to their heart's content.   And I am sure Southwest will give them a coupon good for a free bag of peanuts on their next flight.   Southwest didn't become profitable by giving things away.

Whether the gate agent was misinformed, was enforcing actual policy, or was advancing her own personal religious and political agenda (indistinguishable these days) we may never know.   But one thing is for sure, she was in charge, so there is little point in arguing with her more than they did. 

But also, there is one other thing - she probably was legally in the right.   According to Southwest, their "family boarding" policy applies only to parents, not to grandparents.  Southwest has a right to make their own policies in that regard - it is not a matter of Federal law what constitutes a "family" for family boarding purposes.  In fact, they don't have to offer "family boarding privileges" at all, and it is something they made-up.

And in some States - most in fact - Southwest could legally deny family boarding privileges based on the fact the parents were a same-sex couple, as discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation isn't protected by Federal law, and protected in only a few States (the flight was from Buffalo, so presumably New York is one of those States).

Regardless of who is "right" or "wrong" the main thing is, after lodging their objection, they obeyed the rules, got on the plane, and didn't make a freaking scene.   Because if they did, they never would have gotten to Florida, and quite frankly, few people would have felt sorry for them, including me.

It ain't your plane, it ain't your airport.   Yes, you have rights, but no, staging a protest or a sit-in because you don't get your way - even if you are in the right - is never the answer.  Being dragged off the plane because you disagree with a decision of the airline is never the right answer.   So kudos to this couple for following the rules.   Whether Southwest broke any, remains unclear.

You can bet they will update their boarding policy page on their website, though!