Same-Sex Couple With 3 Kids Claims Southwest Denied Them Family Boarding Privileges

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Two Florida dads traveling with their three children say that Southwest Airlines staff would not allow their group to pre-board a flight with other families traveling on the same plane.

One of the fathers says he flies on Southwest between Buffalo and Fort Lauderdale often, and has not had a problem using family boarding, reports WGRZ.com.

But this time, he says, when the family approached the gate at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, an airline employee prevented them from boarding and said, “this is for family boarding only.”

“And my spouse looked up and said, ‘Well, we are a family. It’s myself, my spouse, and our three children,’ he told WGRZ.com. “She said it’s family boarding only and got very sarcastic.”

He says he feels like his family was “profiled” as soon as they walked up to board.

When reached for comment by WGRZ, a spokesperson said Southwest had just heard about the incident, and referred to the airline’s family boarding policy, which reads:

“An adult traveling with a child six years old or younger may board during Family Boarding, which occurs after the ‘A’ group has boarded and before the ‘B’ group begins boarding.”

The spokesperson says that means that one adult can board with children under six years old, but the policy could also be read as though one adult can board per every one child under that age.

While the man acknowledges that the policy could be open to interpretation, he says the employee didn’t note that initially, and just said only families can board.

UPDATE 3:38 p.m.: Southwest Airlines provided Consumerist with a statement regarding the incident, saying that there was another member of their group who was ineligible to board under family boarding, and that a gate agent asked that she board in her assigned group.

“This conversation in the boarding area had nothing to do with discrimination, we welcomed both parents to board the aircraft with their children,” the airline said in a statement. “The parents expressed disappointment that the Family Boarding policy was not applicable to another member of their group. The two parents did not agree with our policy, and our Flight Crew worked to save seats together on the aircraft for the family as the conversation continued in the gate area.”

A spokesperson pointed to the airline’s boarding policy, adding that employees “work hard to follow the policy to accommodate families traveling together while also maintaining boarding priorities for all of our Customers.”