Leisha Hailey denies 'spectacle'; airline offers goodwill, refund
Leisha Hailey, "The L-Word" actress who was one of two women removed from a Southwest Airlines flight Sunday, issued a statement with Camila Grey on Tuesday regarding what happened at a stop in El Paso, Texas. The airline followed with further information of its own.
The Uh Huh Her bandmates were escorted off the plane following an exchange with crew members that began after Hailey and her girlfriend kissed; the airline on Monday said the situation escalated into one that "was better resolved on the ground, as opposed to in flight."
Hailey and Grey weren't apologizing, they said, only explaining their experience in advance of filing a formal complaint with the airline. "We were simply being affectionate like any normal couple," they said. Southwest's customer service team had "reached out to extend goodwill and a full refund for an experience that fell short of the passengers' expectation," the airline said Tuesday.
"We want to make it clear we were not making out or creating any kind of spectacle of ourselves, it was one, modest kiss ...," the women said in the statement. "We were simply being affectionate like any normal couple."
In their statement, the two, who said they were onboard less than five minutes total, took "full responsibility for getting verbally upset with a flight attendant after being told it was a 'family airline,'" adding that they were not told why they were approached and "scolded" by the flight attendant.
Southwest said Tuesday that the removal of the two from Flight 2274 had little to do with their kiss and lots to do with their alleged loud use of profanity and "aggressive reaction." The airline did not get specific about what anyone was reacting to, though it did say a family that was offended by the language two passengers were using was moved to another part of the cabin.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance against Defamation took a broad view Tuesday, with Herndon Graddick, GLAAD's senior director of programs, saying in a statement, "Corporations need to ensure that employee training programs include best practices for welcoming all customers and that those practices are enforced." Graddick characterized the "widespread outrage" around Hailey's report as a sign that "fair-minded Americans" in general weren't down with discrimination against same-sex couples.
Meanwhile, over on Uh Huh Her's Twitter feed, the women's point was made more pithily: "One Kiss to Make out to Air Humping? Amazing how mangled stories can get by press. I've also been shown the power of the tweet."
-- Christie D'Zurilla
Photo: Camila Grey, left, and Leisha Hailey of the band Uh Huh Her in 2008. Credit: Lisa Eisner