Gay couple bumped from airline seats to make room for straight couple

When gay businessman David Cooley boarded Alaska Airlines flight 1407 from Los Angeles to New York this past weekend, he expected to enjoy the airline's top-rated service and the amenities that accompanied his Premium Class ticket. Instead, however, he said he and his travel companion were subjected to "humiliation" instead.

"I have never been so discriminated against while traveling before," Cooley, owner of iconic Los Angeles gay bar The Abbey, wrote in a public Facebook post. He said he and his travel companion were "removed" from their flight "to give preferential treatment to a straight couple."

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David Cooley, owner of The Abbey
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David Cooley, owner of The Abbey
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 14: The Abbey owner David Cooley attends premiere screening for E!'s 'What Happens At The Abbey' at The Abbey on May 14, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 06: (L-R) TV personality Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi, singer Lance Bass, and The Abbey's owner David Cooley attend The Abbey Food and Bar's 11th Annual Christmas in September at The Abbey on September 6, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 06: Diana Ross Abbey Owner David Cooley Appear At The Abbey To Greet Fans And Promote Her New Remix Of 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' at The Abbey on January 6, 2018 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 06: Diana Ross Abbey Owner David Cooley Appear At The Abbey To Greet Fans And Promote Her New Remix Of 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' at The Abbey on January 6, 2018 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 14: The Abbey owner David Cooley attends premiere screening for E!'s 'What Happens At The Abbey' at The Abbey on May 14, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 19: David Cooley (L) and Ross Mathews attend The Abbey Food and Bar's 12th annual Christmas in September Event at The Abbey on September 19, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: The Abbey owner David Cooley attends as The Abbey hosts 13th Annual APLA Oscar Viewing Party - The Envelope Please at The Abbey on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodrigo Vaz/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Actress Pauley Perrette (L) and The Abbey owner David Cooley attends as The Abbey hosts 13th Annual APLA Oscar Viewing Party - The Envelope Please at The Abbey on March 2, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodrigo Vaz/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 19: David Cooley (L) and actress Tara Reid attends The Abbey Food and Bar's 12th annual Christmas in September Event at The Abbey on September 19, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 14: Owner and founder of The Abbey David Cooley arrives at the premiere screening for E!'s 'What Happens At The Abbey' at The Abbey on May 14, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 14: (L-R) Television personalities Brandi J. Andrews, Billy Reilich, Lawrence Carroll, Ashlee Lian, Chelsea Jeffers, Brandon Winn, Cory Zwierzynski, Kim Senser, Elizabeth Steinle, Kyle Clarke, David Cooley, Murray Swanby, Marissa Chykirda, Franklin Pena and Daniel Eide arrive at the premiere screening for E!'s 'What Happens At The Abbey' at The Abbey on May 14, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
CULVER CITY, CA - OCTOBER 23: The Abbey club owner David Cooley attends the launch party for Los Angeles Confidential Magazine's October 'Men's Issue' at Unici Casa Gallery on October 23, 2014 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 06: Founder and CEO of The Abbey Food & Bar David Cooley (center) and employees on the red carpet at The Abbey Food and Bar's 11th Annual Christmas in September at The Abbey on September 6, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tasia Wells/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 24: The Abbey owner David Cooley (L) and Leo Esparza arrives at The Abbey Food And Bar Hosts 25th Anniversary Celebration Party at The Abbey on May 24, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Greg Doherty/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 24: The Abbey owner David Cooley (L) and Leo Esparza attend The Abbey Food and Bar Hosts 25th Anniversary Celebration Party at The Abbey on May 24, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tasia Wells/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 18: David Cooley, owner of The Abbey, arrives at Just Jared's Summer Bash Pool Party 2015 on July 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: David Cooley and Scott Campbell attend the 24th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's Oscar Viewing Party at The City of West Hollywood Park on February 28, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for EJAF)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: (L-R) David Cooley and Karrueche Tran attend The Abbey Food & Bar's 9th annual Christmas in September event at The Abbey on September 23, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 06: Founder and CEO of The Abbey Food & Bar David Cooley (R) attend The Abbey Food and Bar's 11th Annual Christmas in September at The Abbey on September 6, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tasia Wells/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: (L-R) Michael Turchin, The Abbey founder David Cooley and singer Lance Bass attend The Abbey's 8th Annual Christmas in September event benefiting The Children's Hospital Los Angeles at The Abbey on September 24, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jennifer Lourie/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: The Abbey founder David Cooley (L) and actress Carolyn Hennesy attend The Abbey's 8th annual Christmas In September Event benefiting The Children's Hospital Los Angeles at The Abbey on September 24, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodrigo Vaz/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 31: David Cooley (L) and guest attend David Cooley's The Abbey Presents: New Years Eve 2010 at The Abbey on December 31, 2009 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Brian To/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 11: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) David Cooley and Lisa Foxx attend the Lifeline Program celebration for the 'I'm Still Hot' Luciana music video premiere featuring Betty White to benefit the Los Angeles Zoo at the Abbey on October 11, 2011 in West Hollywood, California. The Lifeline Program is a new retirement option for seniors. (Photo by Brian To/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 31: David Cooley (R) and guest attend David Cooley's The Abbey Presents: New Years Eve 2010 at The Abbey on December 31, 2009 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Brian To/FilmMagic)
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"After my traveling companion and I had been seated in our assigned seats for a while, we were approached by the flight attendant and my companion was asked to move from his premium seat to coach, so a couple could sit together," Cooley wrote. "I explained that we were a couple and wanted to sit together. He was given a choice to either give up the premium seat and move to coach or get off the plane."

Cooley and his travel companion decided they "could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight," and so they deplaned.

"I cannot believe that an airline in this day and age would give a straight couple preferential treatment over a gay couple and go so far as to ask us to leave," he added.

At the end of his Facebook post, Cooley called on LGBTQ people to boycott Alaska Airlines.

"Thank you to Delta Air Lines for getting us home safe," Cooley wrote. "If you are an #LGBT person, please spend your travel dollars with an LGBT friendly airline like Delta."

A spokesperson for Alaska Airlines told NBC News the incident is currently being investigated, claiming the situation arose after "a couple was mistakenly assigned the same seats as another couple in Premium Class."

"We are deeply sorry for the situation, and are investigating the details while communicating directly with the guests involved to try and make this right," the spokesperson said. "Alaska Airlines has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind, and our employees value inclusion for our guests and each other."

The claims against Alaska Airlines are not new to the industry. Over the past several years, passengers flying Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Emirates and others have claimed to have experienced anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

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