Gay couple believe they were kicked off flight because of their sexuality
A gay couple who were removed from a Southwest Airlines flight believe that they were kicked off because of their sexuality.
James McDaniel and his boyfriend Hafsteinn Himinljómi Regínuson were travelling from their home in Iceland to America to visit McDaniel’s family over the Christmas period.
On the last leg of their flight from Baltimore to Atlanta, they were removed from the flight.
McDaniel explained that they were accused of acting inappropriately on the last flight by throwing items and being intoxicated.
However, McDaniel believes they were confused with other people.
“We boarded our flight to Atlanta on time and were getting cosy, glad to be on the last leg of our trip.
“Then, while we were sitting in our seats on the plane three police officers came onto the plane and told the two of us we had to leave immediately,” he wrote on Facebook.
The pair became upset and Regínuson began to cry.
However, the police threatened McDaniel that they would arrest his partner if he did not calm down.
He continued: “Somehow, my survival instincts kicked in and I was able to talk them down and get the two of us out of the airport without him being taken away.”
McDaniel said that he and his partner had not been drinking enough to be drunk, and that they “never made accusations of intoxication on the plane or off” despite it being the explanation given by the airline.
He believes the staff on the flight took issue with their sexuality rather than their behaviour.
He continued: “The main difference between us and other passengers was that we were openly gay. Not in an over the top or publicly disrespectful way, but in a way that we are used to living in a free country like Iceland.
“We hold hands when we walk together. “We might take a brief kiss now and then. And on the flight, Haffi has a tendency to curl against my shoulder and nap.
“All things which, of course, are normal between a healthy loving adult couple, no matter what part of the sexual spectrum they are, whether straight or gay.”
The pair were given a refund by Southwest and were offered to be booked on a flight the following day.
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However, they were left “humiliated and distrustful” and opted to take a train instead.
“‘I just feel so ashamed that this is my boyfriend’s first experience in the USA,” McDaniel added.
A spokesperson for Southwest said that some customers had complained about their behaviour.
They said: “Our Ground Operations Employees followed guidelines and requested the Customer exit the aircraft due to behaviour that demonstrated signs of intoxication, which continued once off the aircraft.
“As a precaution, law enforcement was called to the gate while our Employees were speaking with the Customer.”