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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. It doesn't matter if these guys were trying to get access to some place they didn't belong or not. Using the word "faggots" is not acceptable. Period. Kick them off their flight. Throw them out of the gold area. But don't call them THAT. I don't see how anyone could justify that.

    Posted by: Roger | Nov 28, 2011 10:49:32 AM

  2. Okay. As a young gay black male I'm TIRED of everytime a minority says a slur it's suddenly the entire race that is homophobic. No, this is not the case. Since Brett Ratner said FAG does that mean the entire jewish race is homophobic? Geez. I was just talking with a friend of mine about how much I love this site and he claimed it was very racist. I denied it, but now I'm thinking he may have had a point. Anyways, to the story at hand. While the slur should not have been used under any circumstance...I kind of want to know what occurred. Phrases like "We did challenge him to act better." make me wonder exactly what happened.

    Posted by: JP | Nov 28, 2011 10:59:17 AM

  3. JP, I'm sure the site and Andy by extension aren't racist, and I think stories with a potential race angle are handled objectively and sensitively. The commenters, however, are a different story. I think it's still much better than queerty, but for whatever reason a vocal minority feels compelled to introduce race into every single story where a person of color is featured. My hope/assumption is that the dozen or so commenters who obsess about race in each story are unrepresentative of the broader community, that only fringe obsessives would post so much on this topic, and that the vast majority of readers don't share these views, or probably even read the comments.

    Posted by: Brian | Nov 28, 2011 11:18:34 AM

  4. Sounds like a lot of United employees needs to be terminated; and United needs to retrain current employees on how to treat LGBT customers. This level of hostility towards gay people cannot be tolerated in society.

    I have no reason to not believe what the gay couple posted. What would be the point of targeting a bunch of random United employees if the situation didn't actually occur they way they said it did? -- ...and I couldn't care less about the race of the employees. It doesn't matter. If the manager was white, he should still be terminated.

    Posted by: David in Houston | Nov 28, 2011 11:54:51 AM

  5. I made up my mind years ago I would never fly United again after being rudely treated by a ticket taker.

    Posted by: Abel | Nov 28, 2011 11:54:55 AM

  6. Look I don't care what color anyone is....purple,blue,black, whatever....but its becoming clear recently that the "younger black generation" has NO problem throwing "words" commwent was to point out that - its easy to throw hurtful words around..when you've never had to Fight for your Rights/ or for just simple Respect as a human being...when all those Rights were there when you were born. ..thats all. Again.....I just wish people would Treat others,as they Themselves wish to be Treated..period.

    Posted by: Gay American | Nov 28, 2011 12:11:23 PM

  7. As a frequent flier myself, i know there are good employees and bad employees at any airline just like in any other company. And as someone who has worked customer service as well you should be trained to be able to deescalate situations and not let customers take you we all know sometimes people can try your patience.

    Having said, I agree with previous posters that we need more information. If these men have Gold Status, that requires flying 50,000 miles each year anyone flying that much would know what the club rules are. Individuals with Gold Status have complimentary club access only when flying on an international itinerary; these guys should know that. If they had gotten club access before while flying domestically they were comped and the customer service agent would have let them know that.

    Customer service reps. who work the Clubs are usually some of the airlines best because they are expected to deal with high profile and vip passengers who use the clubs. I have a hard time believing that they were just ignored when they entered the club and approached the desk, because every passenger who enters must be acknowledged and logged into the system.

    But then i re-read their says they went to "customer service" and the line was empty and they went to the front of the rope. There are rarely rope lines inside lounges because they don't deal with that many passengers. I'm now thinking they went to the general customer service desk on the concourse not to the Red Carpet Club front desk which would be inside the club. Staff at the general airline customer service desk deal mostly with ticket changes and might not be that familiar with Club rules and should/would have referred them to the Red Carpet club.

    There just seems to be information missing or out of order because they go on to say this: "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." From this it appears they tried to enter a club and were turned away. The representative at the front desk who turned them away from the club would have explained why and would have also been the person to ask for clarification on entrance rules not someone at concourse customer service.

    Finally having said all that there is no excuse for being treated badly. No one deserves to have slurs thrown at them. But at the same time, my own frequent flier status and knowledge of the system leads me to believe these guys were having some sour grapes and might not have been in the best mood when they approached the folks at customer service. I have never been ignored in an airport when i've approached staff with a polite but firm "excuse me...can you help me." And yes i'm gay and i also happen to be black if that matters.

    Posted by: Jon | Nov 28, 2011 12:26:43 PM

  8. Brian, I hear what you're saying. I dont believe the creator of the blog or the majority of the readers have racist intent. But, as you said, the posters are getting ridiculous. First it was when Fat joe tried to show support to us in his own way and now TI says something we don't agree with...and we pin it on the race. Get out of here with that nonsense. I will say that there is a lot of pervasive homophobia in the black community but there's a lot of pervasive homophobia IN THE COUNTRY! Not just African Americans.

    Posted by: JP | Nov 28, 2011 12:51:00 PM

  9. So let me get this straight [no pun]; any time someone has a bad service experience, he/she should go directly to the media and make a federal case out of it--?? THIS qualifies as a news story-?? "Gee, my Big Mac was served cold and the worker didn't properly thank me"--Quick! alert News7!! Seriously, people??

    Posted by: ludovico | Nov 28, 2011 12:51:29 PM

  10. Sorry this couple had a bad time. Not sure, if the whole story is being told.

    This is why I really try to avoid the "legacy airlines". I really prefer airlines like Jet Blue and Southwest. As for entry into the lounges, Big deal who needs stale sandwiches and warm fruit. Just go spend $ 30.00 to have a real meal at a restaurant in the airport.

    Posted by: Tom in long beach | Nov 28, 2011 12:58:56 PM

  11. Drama queens did a great job escalating the situation, didn't they? Hardly an excuse for being called faggots, but this is not exactly Rosa Parks material.

    Posted by: oneway | Nov 28, 2011 1:04:26 PM

  12. those that view this story and jump right into talk of "blacks" do one thing and one thing only - they prove that the racism of their parents has indeed been passed down onto them.

    keep hating blacks, folks. wont' change the fact that your parents resent having your gay asses for sons.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Nov 28, 2011 1:07:22 PM

  13. My partner and I endured a similar situation last year with a United manager in Chicago. Although we weren't called any slurs, we were treated rudely and condescendingly and when we asked to see the manager's ID badge to verify his name, he refused, called security and initially had security refuse us boarding on our connecting flight to Frankfurt. There was much more to the story, which we communicated in detail to United customer service. We each received a $400 travel voucher, but it's disappointing to see that ours was not an isolated incident.

    Posted by: HAZ | Nov 28, 2011 1:13:25 PM

  14. Yet again; another so-called couple trying to get something for nothing!

    My husband and me have flown United many years and to say they are homophobic is next to ridiculous!

    Let us get the story of two pushy kiddos trying to enter a lounge to which they are not entitled!

    Posted by: Brains | Nov 28, 2011 1:28:24 PM

  15. dookie, this is news because it fits the media template that gay people are discriminated against everywhere. I live in Baton Rouge, the DEEP SOUTH, and see very little anti gay action. Pretty much limited to fundamentalist churches, and fights between gay people at the gay bars.

    Posted by: ted | Nov 28, 2011 1:30:53 PM

  16. Oh, and the Industrial Areas FOundation action group in Baton Rouge called Together Baton Rouge ignored both jewish and gay community activists to get their group going. Even though we were available, interested and ready. That is anti gay liberal bias.

    Posted by: ted | Nov 28, 2011 1:32:26 PM

  17. Jason and Gay American step up with the unsupported generalizations again.

    If Jason isn't flogging misogyny, its racism. And he uses the same the same mealy mouthed, un-research supportted approach to sound as if he know what he is talking about instead of just spraying thinned bile.

    Gay American, if you have to resort to those generalizations, then you really know nothing about the population in question. Just call them n*ggers and get it out of your system instead of pretending to look at something from the eagle eye of reason.

    Posted by: Polyboy | Nov 28, 2011 1:57:54 PM

  18. Ah yes, that much vaunted American "customer service"

    This sort of thing happens all the time - and yet as a visitor to the USA one is repeatedly told through gritted (perfect teeth) to have a nice day and that the "service" is so wonderful!!

    Give me France anyday!

    Posted by: coemgenus | Nov 28, 2011 2:01:15 PM

  19. I dunno. Whether the couple was or wasn't in the right what ever happened to customer service? I work in the health/medical field, and even the employees in the facility I work at are mandated to attend customer service and relations training.

    The "faggot" comment was definitely unforgivable, but just from a customer and business perspective Rodney Hill would either be fired or demoted.

    Posted by: Alex | Nov 28, 2011 2:53:10 PM

  20. Well the true fact is that both are faggots and most likely acted like them, end of story.

    Posted by: Pete | Nov 28, 2011 3:03:58 PM

  21. I faced a similar situation in Spokane (GEG) a few years ago, also with United employees. That employees stand around the counter and ignore the customers (only customers!) in line is painful enough. Then to be condescended to gets the easily resolved original situation (UAL changed a departing flight time from GEG without rebooking my successive flights) escalated to flared tempers. Then we were threatened with not just denial of boarding but removal from the airport. I'm surely one of the most laid back, easy going travelers in North America. I do admit, however, to having an extensive customer service background with an emphasis on training and managing front line employees. Nothing, at any point in my dealings with UAL that day indicated anything but contempt and derision for their customers and any understanding as to why good service can insure ones job security and a prosperous future for the company they work for. Truly an avoidable situation. By the way, the airport security guard that was called to escort us away from the counter and to screening told us it was no big deal. He was called to that very counter (UAL) at least once a morning to escort disgruntled customers away.

    Posted by: Kevin J | Nov 28, 2011 3:14:35 PM

  22. I quite flying United 4 years ago in favor of Southwest. I'll never use them again if I can avoid it. I complained there was no entertainment on the flight and the attendant said,"We're just out of receivership, how about you donate some money to United so we can afford entertainment again." I swear to God. I complained. Got a $50 flight voucher as an apology and never used it. $50 off of an overpriced flight does not buy me off. I'm for sale, sure, but not that cheap.

    Posted by: Rich | Nov 28, 2011 3:22:37 PM

  23. Good Christ, it's amazing how good some of you are at missing the point.

    Whether these two guys drama queens, whiny assholes, or arsonists is completely irrelevant. There is never -- NEVER -- a justification for calling anyone a faggot in public. The fact that some of you think they deserve it for maybe being jerks (based on one article, by the way) speaks a lot to the slow movement of gay rights. If gay guys are okay with a slur being used because someone *might have been rude*, then why the hell would anyone else think anything of it?

    I'm withholding my judgment of any of these people (something a lot of you should try to do more often) until more comes out, but IF Rodney said that word at any time for any reason, he should be fired. And IF these two guys made it up to get attention, we should hold their feet to the fire for libeling Rodney and making the rest of us all look bad.

    Posted by: rafi | Nov 28, 2011 3:24:04 PM

  24. This guy Hill has got a-lot of explaining to do! I cannot believe an airline employee would do this when there are so, so many gay people who work in the airline/travel industry. I am a retired airline employee and this jackass should be fired!

    Posted by: Peter | Nov 28, 2011 3:31:55 PM

  25. why didnt they sing 'Glad To Be Gay', humouring some people just makes their day!

    Posted by: Craig | Nov 28, 2011 3:52:50 PM

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