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Gay Couple: United Airlines Manager Called Us 'Faggots'


San Diego couple Billy Canu and his partner say they were threatened by a United Airlines manager who called them "faggots" before threatening to kick the couple off their flight after they got in an argument with gate agents over accuss to United's Gold Lounge, 7News reports:

HillCanu said the agents gave the couple "a very condescending, sort of rude answer. They were trying to figure out who was going to help us."

When Canu and his partner complained about the handling of their question, a manager approached them and escorted them away from the area. Canu claimed the manager then escalated the situation.

"As we were walking away he goes ‘idiots,’" recounted Canu. "So, my partner turned around and started walking up to him and said, 'I'm sorry. What did you say?'"

"He [the manager] says, ‘What f*****s,’" according to Canu. Canu said the manager even threatened to kick the couple off their flight to San Diego if they continued to complain.

Canu said he and his partner began tweeting about the incident. In one of Canu's tweets, he identified the airline employee as Rodney Hill and posted a screenshot of Hill's United profile. United Airlines is investigating.

Watch News7's report HERE.

Canu provided a more detailed retelling of the story on Facebook.

Read it, AFTER THE JUMP...

My partner and I were catching the 7:07pm flight from Denver to San Diego on Saturday, November 26th 2011. We arrived at Denver airport and proceeded to the United lounge. We are both Gold members with United/Star Alliance and have had no problem entering the lounges when traveling in Gold status. We went to customer service and the line was empty.

My partner and walked to the front of the rope and stood there waiting, there were four staff behind the desk (1 male, 3 female) and one male stood beside them. We were initially ignored as all five were chatting to each other. One was reading a magazine on hair and nails. The gentleman at the side of the desk beckoned us over, yet still we were ignored.

The four staff started laughing with each other as to who was going to help, pointing to each other. One woman said 'I can't help as I'm pregnant' and laughed at us. A lady (whose name we did not take) then proceeded to 'help' We asked what the difference was with the Gold access to the lounges, but she could not help. She simply told us that Gold access was for international only as 'those tickets cost more' in a very condescending tone.

Eventually the gentleman to the side of the desk explained the difference, that there are open wide access Gold lounges and United members clubs. What we had tried to enter was a members club. The lady who served us went back to reading her magazine and I apologized for interrupting her magazine reading and explained she was rude. She looked up, again with a condescending attitude and said 'Im soooo sorry'

My partner then backed up my cause explaining how rude she was, again we were met with 'Im so sorry' This wasn't an apology, but a mere attempt at belittling us.

The conversation got heated and then Rodney Hill, the 'manager' appeared. The conversation went like this:

RH: 'It's time for you men to leave'

My partner: 'You haven't assessed the situation, you've just turned up half way through and are demanding we leave'

RH: 'I don't care, you need to leave now or I will have you removed from the airport and you won't fly'

MP: 'And who are you and what is your role'

RH: 'I am the manager' (delivered with a patronizing tone)

This conversation went back and forth for approximately a minute and I then ushered my partner away. Rodney was continuing to threaten us by removing us from the airport. We posed no 'threat' to be removed from the airport, the only aggravation we showed was upset from a rude service desk clerk. After walking away Rodney followed us and continued to fuel the fire. We did challenge him to act better. He then followed us threatening again to remove us, as to which point we walked away.

Rodney Hill then shouted 'idiots' at us.

Angered at this my partner attempted to walk back to challenge him, my partner shouted 'what was that?' and Rodney replied. 'What faggots?' before walking back to the customer service desk.

At this point I pulled my partner back. There was simply no point going back to the desk area as we would have been removed with force from the airport. We were not winning and could not communicate with any of the staff at this area. We couldn't get pictures or couldn't talk to a manager for fear of getting removed from our flight. We sat in the waiting area, both of us visibly upset and shaken by what had happened. I then returned to the desk and asked for Rodney's full name. He responded by saying 'dont you dare patronize me'

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  1. United Airlines has got some explaining to do.

    Posted by: jason | Nov 28, 2011 7:50:55 AM

  2. Notice lately that ALOT of these Remarks against Gays from young Black guys...ARE FROM younger black men who NEVER had to FIGHT for thier RIGHTS...who LIVE OFF the BACKS of those WHO FOUGHT & even Died for thier RIGHTS...they Take thier Rights for Granted.

    Posted by: Gay American | Nov 28, 2011 8:03:10 AM

  3. I'd like to hear more details about this incident before people start making incendiary remarks.

    Posted by: John | Nov 28, 2011 8:08:03 AM

  4. Gay American,

    Yours is a very astute observation, very astute indeed.

    I've been saying for some time now that the young blacks of today are becoming the most homophobic group of people in society. They never had to fight for their civil rights the way their grandparents had to. Their awareness of the dangers of prejudice is very low. They have an arrogance about them that is dangerous to our rights.

    Of course, you also need to remember that young blacks have grown up on a diet of homophobic rap and hip hop music. It's been a pervasive influence on them. The gay community made a huge mistake when it failed to criticize blacks and their homophobic music genres way back in the 90's and early 2000's.

    Posted by: jason | Nov 28, 2011 8:08:45 AM

  5. Yes. There is a lot of explaining to do. And United Airlines needs to be held up very publicly on this.

    Posted by: justinw | Nov 28, 2011 8:18:50 AM

  6. The problem with young black men is that they have lost the ability to moderate their language.

    When you are surrounded with terms like bitches, hoes, pimps, niggaz, etc...faggot isn't out of the question.

    Look at the garbage that comes out of the mouths of people like Puffy, 50, and any ball player.

    Children learn what they live.

    Posted by: AllBeefPatty | Nov 28, 2011 8:21:07 AM

  7. I would caution on jumping to any conclusions or making generalizations about the entire African-American community. The gentleman who made the alleged remarks is in his 30's w/a long career in the airline industry, according to his Twitter/LinkedIn profiles. There are 2 sides to every story. As a former airline employee (and a gay man) I'd be curious to hear what the airline employees have to say. Keep in mind that the "victims" were trying to enter an airline lounge that they did NOT have access to. As Gold members of United's Mileage program I'm surprised they didn't know the difference and wonder how "insistent" they were w/these agents. Having said that there is no excuse for using slurs of any kind...IF they really said them.

    Posted by: Manny | Nov 28, 2011 8:30:05 AM

  8. Sounds like there may have been a pattern at this airline of discrimination, at least at this airport. Situations like this rarely just happen by themselves.

    Posted by: Kenneth H. | Nov 28, 2011 8:30:55 AM

  9. Write the airline and demand action. I just did.

    Posted by: justinw | Nov 28, 2011 8:33:56 AM

  10. Definitely need to hear both sides of the story here. As a customer-facing manager of a large company, he would undoubtedly have been bombarded with training about abusive language and in particular sensitivity about race, sexual orientation etc. From the back and forth included here his reaction was reckless and irrational and I don't believe he would break years of training on this matter if the situation were that simple. I'm not saying he didn't say faggot, but if he did, my guess is they did much more than is included here to provoke him. And yes, it's still unacceptable to use the word in any circumstance; I just don't buy that the situation went as portrayed here.

    And for those of you blaming his use of the word on the african american youth culture, the guy is well past his youth, and I'm sure his years of customer service training would be a bigger influence on him than listening to hip hop music as a teenager.

    Posted by: Brian | Nov 28, 2011 8:41:16 AM

  11. Just to add, I'm not an apologist for the airline, I think United has loads of rude and lazy employees. I just think even the rudest and laziest would know there are a few places you don't go when trying to abuse customers, and racial/sexual slurs are definitely off limits.

    Posted by: Brian | Nov 28, 2011 8:50:43 AM

  12. WOW it just got really racist here....


    Posted by: Phil | Nov 28, 2011 8:57:03 AM

  13. First of all, why drag race into this? Not every situation is racial. It is a total disservice to continue to make everything about black and white, when it isn't.

    Secondly, there is ABSOLUTELY no excuse for what happened here, and the manager needs to be fired. An investigation is under way but if there isn't swift and appropriate action taken, then the couple should sue. The harassment and total lack of professionalism is appalling. If this manager allows a citizen complaint to become so out of control that a situation such as this occurs as has the couple entails, that tells me he isn't equipped to be manager in the first place. "Provoking" this sort of reaction is a poor defense. The employees were unprofessional and the manager is a homophobe, they did something wrong, and they need to pay the price.

    Posted by: Francis | Nov 28, 2011 9:01:09 AM

  14. Oh and I agree with Brian. As someone else who works in customer relations, it is difficult to believe these gentlemen's story without giving it a bit of a what-are-you-leaving-out side-eye. Basically, this story needs a lot of salt.

    Like Brian, I am not an apologist, and I too have experienced some seriously lazy and rude customer service while traveling (and when you work in the service industry and deal with customers yourself, it's even MORE ANNOYING than when you don't--it's like a seasoned attorney dealing with a correspondence school lawyer who barely passed the bar). But I, too, would like a fuller story than the side presented by the victims of the still inexcusable slur. It really does take a lot to get to the level where one seriously risks their job--moreso than what's presented here, for sure.

    Posted by: Phil | Nov 28, 2011 9:04:37 AM

  15. The rules are pretty clear and are all over United's website ... they would not have been allowed free access to the Red Carpet Club on a domestic flight. Since both are frequent fliers they probably knew this and tried to get in anyways. Would want to hear the other side of this story.

    Posted by: Stan | Nov 28, 2011 9:15:53 AM

  16. I dont think we can go on pretending like race has nothing to do with it. Most public slurs lately have been coming from men of color and that needs to be looked at. I wont be foolish enough to try to comment on why that is, but it is happening.

    Posted by: JWL | Nov 28, 2011 9:19:29 AM

  17. Yet one more reason I refuse to fly United. Their customer service is the absolute worst.

    Posted by: Walter H | Nov 28, 2011 9:28:58 AM

  18. My personal pet peeve, but basically I view with suspicion any non-celebrity with a personal Tweeter account. They either love drama or invite drama to justify their OCD.

    Soapbox ends.

    Posted by: Upsetter | Nov 28, 2011 9:32:30 AM

  19. The first few comments -very condescending and ignorant. The person involved does not refer to race but yet the comments refer the race of the individual and tries to character assassin a whole group of people. The more I read; the more I believe that a percentage of the gay white community needs to handle their own racial views before expecting others to join them-inclusive instead of exclusion.

    Posted by: lee | Nov 28, 2011 9:43:29 AM

  20. It is so sad that this still occurs. I recently fell victim to such hurtful comments from my manager at work, to the point that I had to quit my job. Grievances with the vice president and owner of the company got me no where except more threats. The even worse part is my employer was in no violation of state law in Ohio so I basically can do nothing about it except boycott them and say never purchase a vehicle from Jeff Schmitt auto group in Ohio.

    Posted by: Christopher | Nov 28, 2011 10:00:06 AM

  21. I'm sure everyone was on their best behavior.

    Posted by: anon | Nov 28, 2011 10:03:48 AM

  22. To me, it reads with jerks on both sides... these guys were 50% of the situation & were already score-keeping about lack of attention before anything even began.

    You can escalate, or you can walk-away. Did they really think they were going to teach the United CSA a lesson...on the SUNDAY OF THXGVG WKEND??? Puleeeeze. Move on w/ your lives, girls.

    And those commenting on race, it may or may not have to do w/ this story- but I bet it has A LOT more to do w/ your own.

    Posted by: Pete n SFO | Nov 28, 2011 10:09:19 AM

  23. The language should not have been used - however, as another comment pointed out the rules for entry to the clubs are very clear. You DO NOT get in based upon status unless you are on an international itinerary. I would assume these guys are frequent flyers so they should know this. I find it hard to believe they didn't know this. I feel sorry for airline personnel, they have to deal with people trying to game the system and then go through the give me your supervisors name, blah, blah, blah... I hope these guys get NOTHING from United... it only encourages other people to provoke incidents to get something for free. What a bunch of drama queens!

    Posted by: MikeH | Nov 28, 2011 10:10:08 AM

  24. Again, people, this couple may or may not have been in the wrong. I think they are at least partially responsible for what occurred. But, ultimately, it's a managers' job to not allow a situation to spiral into what it reportedly spiraled into. The posters blaming the couple need to realize that, based on this account, they aren't the ones who personally attacked the employees at this United Airlines.

    Posted by: Francis | Nov 28, 2011 10:18:19 AM

  25. Why is this news?

    Posted by: Dookie | Nov 28, 2011 10:35:19 AM

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