Southwest Airlines runs a tight ship. Just ask Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, who was escorted off an Oakland-to-Burbank flight earlier this month because his pants were too saggy. Or Kevin Smith, who was booted from the same flight last year because he was deemed too fat to fly. Or Florida resident Joe Winiecki who in 2007 was told to change his T-shirt, which displayed a sexual double entendre, or be removed from the flight. Or Mesa College student Kyla Ebbert, who earlier that year was lectured by a Southwest customer service rep who thought her outfit too revealing (Ebbert was wearing a denim skirt, a tank top, and a sweater).
On Monday, musician and “L Word” actress Leisha Hailey and her girlfriend, musician Camila Grey, discovered yet another way to get kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight.
It started with a kiss, shortly after Hailey and Grey boarded the plane in El Paso. According to the couple, a flight attendant approached them and informed them that Southwest was a “family airline.” Within five minutes, the couple was off the plane.
“In no way were our actions on Southwest Airlines excessive, inappropriate or vulgar,” wrote Hailey and Grey in a statement on their band’s website. “We want to make it clear we were not making out or creating any kind of spectacle of ourselves, it was one, modest kiss.”
Southwest sees it differently, a statement on the airline’s website says that the flight crew received “several passenger complaints characterizing the behavior as excessive,” and that the “conversation escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground.”
The airline later told Fox News that Hailey and Grey were also using profane language, and that “ultimately their aggressive reaction led to their removal from the aircraft.”
Other celebrities have taken to Twitter to denounce the airline. Kirstie Alley, Kelly Osbourne, and Sandra Bernhard have all said they will no longer fly the airline. Not surprisingly, Kevin Smith has also joined in, calling the couple “Too fab to fly.”
Southwest has long taken pride in its outreach to gays and lesbians. Its website touts the company’s status as the official airline of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
This image was tarnished somewhat in June, when a Houston-based Southwest pilot with a stuck microphone button inadvertently broadcast repeated explicit comments about flight attendants’ appearance, age, and sexual orientation over an air-traffic control channel. The pilot, who the airline did not identify, underwent diversity training and was reinstated.