Southwest Airlines has updated its family boarding policy after one man claimed he and his husband were discriminated against when trying to board a flight with their children.
The family boarding policy previously stated that children under six years old can be accompanied by “an adult.” This left the decision for kids traveling with two adults to the gate attendants.
In 2017, Grant Morse was traveling with his husband Sam Ballachino, their three children, and Ballachino’s mother. When family boarding was called, they went to the gate. A heterosexual couple with a child in line before them was allowed to board, but Morse and his family were stopped by the gate agent.
“She said, ‘This is not for you,’” Morse told Florida Today. “It was clearly discriminatory behavior. We were clearly profiled.”
The family had to wait until everyone else boarded the plane and then had to sit separately on the flight.
Morse started to take legal action in 2018 and met with Southwest executive to discuss the incident.
“A year later we were filing suit and the attorneys were working back and forth, and [Southwest] said that they would like to meet us at their corporate headquarters,” Morse said. “[The executives] told us that change would come, they said change takes a lot of time.”
Two years after the incident, Southwest confirmed their policy was changed so it now says that a child under six can be accompanied by “two adults.”
“I am pleased that Southwest has taken certain steps to update its Family Boarding Policy, and that it is attempting to make its airline more welcoming for LGBTQ families,” said Alvin Lee, an attorney at Orrick, an international law firm that helped the family.
“We are happy with the resolution,” Morse said. He and his family haven’t flown on Southwest since the incident in 2017, but said they are “reconsidering” after the change in policy.