Discrimination | Leisha Hailey | News

'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.

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  1. That update is the same copout that the anti-gays use! "It's not about the person, it's the behavior."


    Posted by: Alan E. | Sep 26, 2011 7:31:24 PM

  2. 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.

    Posted by: steve_in_srq | Sep 26, 2011 7:46:55 PM

  3. 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.

    Posted by: Francis | Sep 26, 2011 7:50:31 PM

  4. 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.

    Posted by: PDX Guy | Sep 26, 2011 7:55:35 PM

  5. 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.

    Posted by: ynot | Sep 26, 2011 8:51:37 PM

  6. 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.

    Posted by: Keith | Sep 26, 2011 8:54:45 PM

  7. @ 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.

    Posted by: Kyle | Sep 26, 2011 9:03:14 PM

  8. ding-ding! Keith FTW. Now, watch as SWA does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

    Posted by: wtf | Sep 26, 2011 9:09:47 PM

  9. 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.

    Posted by: justinw | Sep 26, 2011 11:01:45 PM

  10. 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.

    Posted by: PilateError | Sep 26, 2011 11:20:03 PM

  11. 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.

    Posted by: jonny | Sep 27, 2011 12:04:19 AM

  12. 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?

    Posted by: Mark | Sep 27, 2011 12:57:48 AM

  13. 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.

    Posted by: Um, what? | Sep 27, 2011 1:24:37 AM

  14. 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.

    Posted by: Mark | Sep 27, 2011 1:34:19 AM

  15. 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.

    Posted by: ohplease | Sep 27, 2011 2:07:56 AM

  16. Boycott, boycott, boycott.

    Oh, and Leisha Hailey is gorgeous - and I'm a gay man!

    Posted by: Keithy | Sep 27, 2011 4:03:58 AM

  17. 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!

    Posted by: Mark | Sep 27, 2011 7:44:43 AM

  18. 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.

    Posted by: Tone | Sep 27, 2011 8:30:51 AM

  19. Another company to boycott... I will let them know why I am boycotting.

    Posted by: John | Sep 27, 2011 8:51:43 AM

  20. 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.

    Posted by: Jennifer | Sep 27, 2011 1:30:37 PM

  21. 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.

    Posted by: Scrufff | Sep 27, 2011 1:30:37 PM

  22. 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.

    Posted by: Randy | Sep 27, 2011 4:55:18 PM

  23. 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.

    Posted by: Denise | Sep 27, 2011 5:44:57 PM

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