‘L Word’ Actress Leisha Hailey Says Southwest Kicked Her Off Plane for Kissing Girlfriend


Musician and L Word actress Leisha Hailey claimed in a series of angry tweets today that she was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for kissing her partner.

Hailey Wrote Hailey:

"I have been discriminated against by Southwest Air. Flt. attendant said that it was a 'family' airline and kissing was not ok…This is an outrage. I demand a public apology by @SouthwestAir and a refund. Hate is not a family value. I will never fly this airline….We were escorted off the plane for getting upset about the issue. @SouthwestAir endorses homophobic employees. No one made her accountable. Since when is showing affection towards someone you love illegal? I want to know what Southwest Airlines considers as 'family'."

Hailey also reported that she had recorded evidence of the incident.

UPDATE: Southwest released a statement on the incident, saying that Hailey's removal was due to customer complaints of excessive behavior, though they don't specify the behavior in the statement.

Initial reports indicate that we received several passenger complaints characterizing the behavior as excessive. Our crew, responsible for the comfort of all Customers on board, approached the passengers based solely on behavior and not gender. The conversation escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground, as opposed to in flight. 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 expectations.


  1. Scott V says

    Isn’t this like the third time in a year or two that we’ve heard anti-gay stories about SouthWest? Wasn’t this also the airline with the anti-gay pilot that went on the tyrade over the open mic?

    And didn’t they kick Director Kevin Smith off the plane for being ‘too fat’?

    And Billie Joe from Green Day because he had ‘Saggy pants’?

    Maybe they should rename themselves to ‘Supremacy Air’?

  2. says

    Hmmmm….I thought Southwest to be gay affirming and friendly. Now I can understand this action if this was a tongue down the throat kiss. Even I find that offensive in public whether straight, gay, or undecided, but I somehow doubt this is the case. This actually makes me mad as hell. I told my husband just the other day that the thing I miss most about Ptown is being able to hold his hand or to just touch him in public. Living in south Texas there is no way we could do that here. Maybe THAT’S the problem. Southwest is based in Texas!

    Sad, sad, sad.

  3. Steve says

    I’m really tired of this “family” BS. Kids get it. You just tell them that sometimes two men or two women love each other. They get that. No need to explain sex or anything else. It’s only when they get older and absorb more of society’s prejudices that they get screwed up and start acting weird.

  4. says

    We’ve taken SouthWest Airlines off our list of acceptable carriers. My husband is an architect, has his own firm, and alerted me to this news. From now on his staff will NOT book a flight on SW (or if they do they pay for it themselves). Geez, sometimes I think I’m the luckiest husband in the world because we live in SF. When we first married my husband would shy from holding my hand, placing an arm around my waist or kissing me in public. Today it is so natural we don’t think twice. It should be that way EVERY where, in EVERY city. BOYCOTT SouthWEST!

  5. Will says

    I fly Southwest all the time, and have never had a bad experience with anyone at the airline. But I do think context matters here. Was this an innocent kiss or passionate sucking face for 5 minutes straight? I would feel somewhat uncomfortable sitting next to two people who were engaged in heavy petting in the adjacent seat — whether they’re straight or gay. Did Leisha record evidence of her behavior as well? That’s what I’d like to see. In any event, I’ll continue to fly Southwest.

  6. Miche Rutledge says

    So their fellow passengers were homophobic and complained, so SWA threw the lesbians off the plane? How is that in any way better, Southwest?

    I’m not inclined to believe SW at all given their track record. If she was in California or NY when it happened, perhaps she has a few legal recourses she can take for illegal discrimination.

  7. Francis says

    This entire situation starts and ends at whatever supposed “excessive” behavior Leisha and her partner were expressing. Since she has audio we’ll hear exactly how things went down and find out for ourselves. The reality is that, if this were a man and woman, the chances anyone would complain and the situation would escalate to this level is very reduced and that’s where I have an issue. These two women were very likely targeted for being 2 women, regardless of whatever so-called excessive behavior they engaged in.

    And, also Steve, 100% right, the whole “family” line is an insult. It’s directly saying gay/lesbian people are anti-family and ruin the innocence of children, it’s basically labeling us lepers who shouldn’t exist in “normal” society. That term alone indicates homophobia. Time for action against this company and let them know their homophobic actions won’t be swept under the rug.

  8. newcityspot says

    It’s hard to say what happened – like other commenters said, was it just a kiss, or a full on make out session?

    It is coming from a airline with a history of discrimination of all kinds, so at least we know it’s not JUST homophobic.

    It’s SouthWorst Airlines!

  9. justme says

    “Initial reports indicate that we received several passenger complaints characterizing the behavior as excessive.”

    That means absolutely nothing. If it’s true (and that’s a stretch), were the “several” passengers all part of the same group? Or were they strangers all flying to or from someplace known for its bigotry? Even if there were really any actual, let alone “several”, complaints, some idiots would consider any affection at all between two women to be “excessive”. This is utterly meaningless blather.

    And exactly how horrible a sight would it be to see Leisha Hailey kissing her most-likely pretty hot girlfriend? Seriously, people. Unless nudity was involved, I’m not buying the idea that they did anything wrong.

  10. SFShawn says

    It’s 2011 folks and it’s way past the time for most of these companies to start doing some serious “sensitivity training” or whatever they want to call it to educate their employees(especially those working with/for the public)that the words coming out of their mouths will have consequences.

  11. jason says

    The L Word is not a gay-friendly show. It’s basically a sop to the sleazy straight guy fantasy for girl-girl action. It appeals to men who hate gay guys.

    As for the actress’s claim, if she was discriminated against for basic kissing, she has a point. However, if her behavior was above and beyond what you see in heterosexuals, she doesn’t have a point.

    I don’t want people smooching excessively in public places regardless of the gender combination.

  12. Vito says

    Im so over people using the “execessive kissing” excuse and I’m so over apologist using the “oh, I would feel uncomfortable even if it were a straight couple.” I’m usually a pretty level headed person who prefers to get all the facts before hand but I do not put it past Southwest to pull this kind of crap. I don’t usually fly Southwest because, quite frankly, they don’t seem to really care about their customrs, but now I will make a point to not even consider them.

  13. greg says

    Gee, I wonder what they would have done with the straight Brazillian couple almost necking and stroking each other’s legs (hers were laying over his, almost over mine) for TWO HOURS on the home from LA last night. I was pissed even then that, cute (hot) as it was, I would have probably had trouble if it was me and a boyfriend/fiance/husband. But then again we were headed back to Seattle so probably not.

  14. says

    Once again. great that some gay commenters take the side of the airline, presuming they MUST be in the right, the kiss was PROBABLY excessive, “oh, I can see if it was tongue-kissing” (as if tongue-kissing straights would be ejected from anywhere). Uncle Marys.

  15. Roy says

    ummm the flight hadn’t even take off yet, so how amorous could they have gotten while boarding the plane?? Putting stuff in overhead/sitting in seat/buckling up..turn to partner, say some endearing phrase..and a quick kiss. OMG..they’re heathens! The homophobes should have been kicked off not them. Southwest needs to define ‘family’…for the bigot flight attendant to tell them ‘this is a family airline’..is BS. I think the whole flight crew should be suspended for a few days, and sent to training…including the pilots since they have to authorize removal of passengers. And Southwest’s response that ‘it was a matter better handled on the ground than in the air’ just endorses the flight crews bigotry and hate.

  16. Scott says

    I work for Southwest and this goes on EVERY DAY! We are a total homophobic bigoted company! This is the norm not the exception. I was told just last week from a coworker that it was “inappropriate” for me to talk or mention anything personal about my life…aka my Parter of 19 years!!!!

    PLEASE do not let my company just sweep it under the rug AGAIN! SWA states they are a non-discriminatory company, however EVERYDAY we GLBT employees have to put up with it! NO MORE!

  17. Kevin says

    A typical non-apology apology.

    “I’m sorry for the fact that in your opinion, you feel you were offended.”

    The more rights and the more mainsteam “gay” becomes, the more harsh ignorant people’s reaction will be.

  18. steve_in_srq says

    Southwest’s response did not indicate they are investigating this as a discrimination case. A passenger claims that company representatives discriminated based on sexual orientation, an allegation which (if true) is a violation of their policy. Southwest responded and do not indicate an investigation is being started, so they aren’t even following their own policy.

  19. Francis says

    I checked to see possible updates on that trash site TMZ, and that was the biggest mistake I’ve made in a while. Horrific homophobia on that site.

    Nondarb, all it takes is one homophobic flight attendant. This happened in Texas, homophobia reigns abound in Texas. The obvious reality is, again, regardless of what these women did, gay/lesbian folk are TARGETED in a way straights are not. And there is an elevated amount of suspicion and therefore more eyes on same-sex couples in regards to other passangers on flights. We don’t have much in the way of leeway, especially considering the standards of obscenity are much different between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples.

    I’ve read a few accounts of what happened, ranging from one solitary flight attendant complaining, to loud kissing to buzzing vibrators. We’ll all have to wait for the 100% truth to be officially known but I think we should all come to realize this is a homophobic incident to at least some degree.

  20. PDX Guy says

    I am sure plenty of pathetic LGBT people will just keep giving SWA their money.

    Just like they keep eating at Chick-fil-a.

    And keep shopping at Target.

    It is just sad.

  21. ynot says

    It’s way past time to take a stand against this airline. We now have a well known person who was blatantly discriminated against and thrown off a flight. I really hope a boycott is organized against this Texas bigot company.

  22. Keith says

    Two items of note:

    1) The flight attendant used the word “family” in the complaint of the behavior, and anyone in the LGBTQ community knows that that means one thing, “Heterosexuals Only.” So, with that word alone, I believe that there was prejudice in the airlines response to the public display of affection. I’ve been on flights where newlyweds practically groped each other the entire flight, and everyone around them just smiled, winked or ignored them.

    2) How many straight couples have ever been kicked of SWA for excessive displays of affection? Name just one couple in the last 10 years? Name one straight couple that was singled out and asked to tone down their onboard behavior if they were kissing or touching each other in an affectionate manner? Yeah, I can’t name one either, but we have several examples of same-sex couples running in to this issue with the airline. ..usually because another passenger has complained to the flight attendant. There is clearly a bias here, and I for one will look for alternatives such as Jet Blue now that I’m more fully aware of how SWA treats LGBTQ passengers conducting the same behavior as straight-orientation passengers but receiving wildly different treatment.

  23. Kyle says

    @ Jacob Z Flores, it’s not that you “can’t” hold hands with your partner in south Texas, you choose not to. you are letting other people control what goes on in your relationship. don’t “miss Ptown”, bring that freedom you feel to south Texas, and stop waiting for others to advance our community and do something yourself.

  24. justinw says

    I have no problem believing that this is a case of the airline pandering to hypocritical homophobes. I seriously doubt if a straight couple had been in the same position that they would have gotten the same ‘tude, If evidence comes up to prove me wrong, I’ll admit it, but I won’t lose sleep waiting for it either.

  25. PilateError says

    Sadly, we only have her side of the story and I’m trying to remain objective. I don’t think anyone deserves to be kicked off a plane for kissing, no matter how passionate; however if they ignored the warning to calm down and they were very “passionate,” or aggressive to the steward(es), I can see why further measures would be needed. Also, I think Southwest’s statement is cold regarding the subject.

  26. jonny says

    Haven’t flown southwest in a while, but they used to be pretty funny and self-deprecating. I often flew between Vegas and San Diego and San jose, so I can assure you that the use of family in SWA’s statement is – as previous commenters have pointed out – simply heterosexual. To remove subtlety, heavy drinking, make-out sessions, and occasional vomiting (not me) were fairly commonplace. I remember once – after a few beers before boarding the delayed flight – my friend and I got up and took the peanut and pretzel basket from the overhead and started tossing peanuts (gently) at people who wanted them. The flight attendant actually commented at how accurate and efficient we were, so she would get more drink orders if we kept passing out snacks.
    I just wanted to recount that story as it made me laugh while reminiscing. But my main point is that I have seen outrageous behavior before and during Southwest flights and I never saw one person get escorted off. I think once I see more details on this that I will fall on the opposite side of the SWA apologists who say that if a man and a woman were making out too much, they would be uncomfortable too.

  27. Mark says

    I’ve found Southwest to be very gay friendly. I think most passengers may grumble and seat-kick and to complain to a flight attendant and have a flight attendant have to get into a drama (I’m sure just what they want) screams excessive behavior and planned-ahead publicity stunt for their show, maybe sagging in the ratings and on the verge of cancellation?

  28. Um, what? says

    Okay, why is any D-list, minor celebrity flying Southwest Airlines in the first place? If you are enjoying your 15 minutes of fame, fly an airline that at least has a first class cabin.

  29. Mark says

    I also work in a position where like flight attendants you have to deal with hundreds of new public every day and you just want to do your job. I’d say in most instances like this, you don’t go looking for drama, drama comes looking for you. And then runs to Twitter.

  30. ohplease says

    So, Mark, you honestly think she and her girlfriend were making a public sexual spectacle of themselves while boarding a plane? Because that makes more sense than the idea that there are bigots in Texas?

    Sadly, you seem to have the critical thinking skills that most people would expect from someone in a “service” position.

  31. Mark says

    Ohplease: I understand their flight was between Baltimore and St Louis. But don’t let that distract from the notion of Southwest Airlines jets full of nothing but TEXAN homophobes! Boycott!

  32. Tone says

    I’d like to boycott them but sometimes it isn’t easy. Southwest is the only airline that flies nonstop from SNA to LAS. Who wants a 4 hour layover in SLC? You can drive to Vegas from Orange County faster than that.

  33. Jennifer says

    How many rows can one see in front of them? I’m not terribly tall, but at any given time, I can see maybe the two rows in front of me, ok. And not even what they are doing, just the tops of their heads. So its pretty clear what happened.

    They obviously had displayed affection in the gate. Already gathered enough homophobes that way, and more than likely had priority seating, and all the others that came in after them had to walk by them and get it “shoved down their throats” as they like to say and decided to be dicks about it and make false accusations about protecting their families. Of course the stewardess is going to be intimidated by the religious superiority of the passengers, dont we all at times? Pisses me off.

  34. Scrufff says

    I have flown SW from Burbank to Oakland many many times, especially during San Francisco’s Folsom and Dore Alley weekends. and i can say that on the those particular weekends the planes about 70% gay – with guys in full leather gears to just regular gay Joe’s. I have sat with my BF and held hands, got handsy with each other with no complaints from SW crew. The gay flight attendants were flirty with the gay passengers, pretty much every one having a gay old time. I don’t really have a point, i just want to share my experiences with SW.

  35. Randy says

    There is no amount of kissing that warrants being hauled from a plane.

    And no, Southwest does NOT get to blame this on complaints of Customers (read: bigots).

    SouthWest has a LOT of explaining to do, and it better be able to back it up with evidence.

  36. says

    I don’t feel like we have all the facts here. I flew Southwest from NY to FL free my wife and I got married in Canada, and we sat in the front row, directly in front of the airline staff, we held hands, kissed, my wife fell asleep practically on my lap and Southwest never had a problem. I have to wonder how “excessive” the kissing was, for the airline to get several complaints. I also have to wonder how escalated Ms. Hailey’s reaction was to the staff, to get escorted from the plane? Seemed that they clearly explained exactly what was bothering the other paying customers. I get then impression the ladies were asked to exit the plane because they couldn’t carry on an adult conversation without creating an uncomfortable scene likely in front of the passengers that complained. Sorry, I’m not boycotting anything until I have all the facts. I don’t appreciate the hype and propaganda perpetuated by social media jumping on the bandwagon because some pseudo lesbian celebrity says so.