Southwest responds to Leisha Hailey: 'Behavior and not gender'
This post has been updated. See below for details.
A Southwest Airlines crew approached actress-musician Leisha Hailey after other passengers complained that she and her girlfriend's kissing was "excessive," the airline said Monday in a statement, explaining that the crew made the decision to escort the couple off the plane after the discussion "escalated."
Southwest said that its crew had "approached the passengers based solely on behavior and not gender" after receiving "several passenger complaints characterizing the behavior as excessive."
Hailey complained Monday via Twitter that they had been booted from the flight "for being gay," calling for a boycott of the airline and invoking the names of director Kevin Smith and Green Day musician Billie Joe Armstrong, who previously were asked to leave flights because of weight and saggy pants, respectively.
"This is an outrage," Hailey tweeted. "I demand a public apology by @SouthwestAir and a refund. Hate is not a family value. I will never fly this airline. We were escorted off the plane for getting upset about the issue. @SouthwestAir endorses homophobic employees. No one made her accountable."
According to Southwest, "The conversation escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground, as opposed to in flight."
The airline said it was prepared to "work directly with the passengers involved to offer our heartfelt apologies for falling short of their expectation.
An hour before the airline posted a link to the statement on its Twitter page, Hailey was retweeting a comment calling attention to a page on the Southwest website where the airline had highlighted its "outreach and commitment to the GLBT community." Southwest is the official airline of GLAAD and other similar groups.
[Updated, 6:45 p.m. Sept. 26: The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation contacted Southwest on Monday to call for additional actions beyond the airline's statement, to "ensure all customers feel comfortable and welcomed while traveling," Herndon Graddick said in a statement. Graddick is GLAAD's senior director of programs.]
Photos: Kevin Smith, left, Leisha Hailey and Billie Joe Armstrong. Credits: Danny Moloshok / Associated Press, left; Paul Michaud / Showtime, center; Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times, right.