Same-sex parents w/children claim Southwest Airlines denied family boarding

Posted at 8:19 AM, May 22, 2017

Grant Morse and his spouse of 26-years are the legal fathers of twin three-year-old boys and a daughter who is five. This past weekend, the family says they were the victim of "blatant discrimination" by Southwest Airlines.

The incident occurred on Saturday May 20th as the family tried to use the family boarding procedure as it took Southwest Airlines Flight 5136 from Buffalo to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Morse said a Southwest Airlines' boarding agent and a supervisor refused to allow the family to use the airlines' family boarding procedure despite multiple requests.  Morse said he was told that only "one" of the legal fathers could board with the three children.  The angry father said he has flown Southwest Airlines many times and never had any previous problems with family boarding until now.

As a result, the family says it was forced to be separated on the aircraft with the 83-year-old mother sitting by herself and one of the young children sitting in a row alone.

Buffalo-based WKBW has reached out to Southwest Airlines for a comment.

Southwest Airlines issued the following statement concerning the dispute:

"Prior to the departure of Flight 5136 from Buffalo to Fort Lauderdale on May 20, we welcomed all families to board the aircraft during Family Boarding between the “A” and “B” boarding groups.  Our Operations Agent informed two parents that another member of their group was ineligible to board under Family Boarding and asked that she board in her assigned boarding 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 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.  Our Family Boarding Policy is explained on and our Employees work hard to follow the policy to accommodate families traveling together while also maintaining boarding priorities for all of our Customers."