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FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, file photo, a Southwest Airlines plane takes off from Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla. Southwest Airlines Co. is reporting first-quarter earnings of $351 million on Thursday, April 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

A same-sex couple said Southwest Airlines rejected them for family boarding


A man in a same-sex relationship says that he was discriminated against by a Southwest Airlines agent when the employee would not allow him, his partner, their three children and the children's grandmother to board the plane as a family, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Grant Morse and his husband Sam Ballachino, their three children and Ballachino's mother were catching a flight from Buffalo, New York, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when a gate agent approached them.

“Excuse me, this is family boarding only,” said the agent.

“Well, we are a family and we’re married, and these are our three kids. And that’s our 83-year-old mother that is helping us," Morse told the employee. But Morse says it didn't matter. 

At first, he believed some sort of mistake had been made, but after a supervisor reaffirmed what the agent had said, it dawned on him. 

Finally, the family was allowed to board, but only after the whole plane had boarded. The airline had saved four seats at the back of the plane, but Ballachino and his mother were seated in other areas. 

“The conversation in the boarding area had nothing to do with discrimination,” said Southwest Airlines in an emailed statement. “We welcomed both parents to board the aircraft with their children. The parents expressed disappointment that the Family Boarding policy did not apply to another member of their group.”

But Morse says that isn't true. The Southwest policies state that a parent traveling with a child under the age of six can board during Family Boarding. All of Morse's children are under six and share a hyphenated last name with both parents. 

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