A lesbian actress who starred in the Showtime cable show “The L Word” says she was escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight for kissing a woman, while the airline says it was excessive and drew customer complaints.
Leisha Hailey took to Twitter on Monday to call for a boycott of the carrier after a flight attendant told them other passengers had complained after witnessing the affection.
Her first tweet said: “I have been discriminated against.” She later added, “Since when is showing affection to someone you love illegal?”
Southwest Airlines Co. responded on its website with a four-sentence response.
“Initial reports indicate that we received several passenger complaints characterizing the behavior as excessive. Our crew, responsible for the comfort of all Customers on board, approached the passengers based solely on behavior and not gender,” it said.
A discussion followed on the flight, and the airline said it “escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground.”
The actress and her unidentified girlfriend were on a flight from Baltimore to St. Louis. The kissing occurred in the air and a discussion followed when the plane landed, but details of how the couple was escorted off the flight were not included in the Southwest statement.
Hailey said the encounter between the couple and a flight attendant was recorded. It’s not immediately clear who made it.
A message seeking comment from Halley’s spokeswoman, Libby Coffey, was not immediately returned.
Hailey was a musician before joining the cast of the Showtime drama featuring the lives of lesbian friends and lovers living in Los Angeles. She played the character Alice Pieszecki. The show is currently not aired.
Southwest’s website says it is the official airline of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
Herndon Graddick, senior director of programs at GLAAD, said in an email that “GLAAD contacted Southwest to call for additional actions beyond tonight’s statement that ensure all customers feel comfortable and welcomed while traveling.”
Earlier this month, the Dallas-based airline kicked off Green Day’s lead man Billie Joe Armstrong for wearing his pants too low. The Grammy winner was escorted off a plane after failing to follow a flight attendant’s directive to pull the pants up.
Southwest also removed director Kevin Smith from a flight last year because he didn’t fit properly in a single seat. His first tweet read, “Dear (at)SouthwestAir I know I’m fat, but was (the) captain (...) really justified in throwing me off a flight for which I was already seated?”
Hailey is preparing to launch a 21-city tour to promote breast cancer awareness.