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Old Nov 11, 2008, 1:00 PM
YvonneEriksson YvonneEriksson is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 3
Default British Airways - denied upgrade because of sexual preference

Im pretty sure there is precious little I can do at this stage of the game, but I was without a doubt discriminated against by British Airways, definitely while ON the plane, possibly before boarding.

Im a US citizen living in Sweden. I fly to NY from Copenhagen some 6-7 times a year. Its only this year that I went on a quest to find out which would be the best flight to take as I don't prefer flying but do it out of necessity. I flew earlier this year with BA, and this last time on Oct 22.

Rather than flying on my economy ticket, when I got to the ticket counter at JFK, I asked if I could be upgraded, and thought getting there earlier would enhance this possibility. For who knows what reason, i was told I should be able to get this upgrade, but that they would not be able to take cash at the moment, but it would 'doable' at the check in counter. Odd as this sounded, I said ok, and went to the check in counter and waited.

Eventually, one of the persons at the check in said, the flight was 'pretty full' but there were some seats in business and some in first class, but they definitely coulnt' take cash (?!?)... but that I should talk to one of the steward/stewardess on the flight and they might be able to help me out.

Not sure if I was partially losing my own mind I approached a flight attendent upon boarding the plane still wanting to pay for the comfort of an upgrade. As I walked away, the comment was made was "great, t hats the a damn lesbian **** wants first class treatment".

Not only was this offensive, it was completely unnecessary as the designating lesbian symbol she took notice of read on my shirt read, "Lesbians have civil right too" .

To make a long story short, economy was pretty full, but FC and business was not. To make things worse some 4-5 persons were moved from economy into business... but I was not allowed to pay to get there.

I contacted BA about this, explained it as I did above, in response I was offered an apology from a customer relations person. After another 3 email exchange, where I expressed dissatisfaction and a request for at least an upgrade on a future flight ... I was 'awarded 5000 miles' and essentially told to be satisfied as they simply do not discriminated.

With all due respect, 5000 miles, based on my flights requiring thousands of miles for an upgrade was inconsequential.

The truth is, I didn't appreciate this treatment in the least. Gay money spends the same as any other, and if BA has a problem with Gay money this information should be spread around in an international way.

Your thoughts?
Old Nov 11, 2008, 10:22 PM
Leatherboy2006 Leatherboy2006 is offline
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 340

Welcome to the real world. The discrimination we face was displayed in last weeks USA elections were gay marriage was voted against in several states. Right now in the USA illegal aliens have MORE rights then tax paying born in the USA citizens and Obama (nor Mccain) are the road to securing our rights. Major protests are planned on the 15th of november in major usa cities and ACT-UP has been reactived and is ready for MAJOR posts, ones that will make stonewall look like a picnic.
boycotts of several companies are planned and picketing and blockades of major morman, catholic and baptists churches will be done very soon and with out warning.
So my fellow gay citizen hopefully this time the straight world will see that we mean business.
Old Nov 12, 2008, 11:33 AM
YvonneEriksson YvonneEriksson is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 3

To my way of thinking, the way to address this is one company, organization, or person at a time.

If I don't bring this to BA's attention and have them lose something by the attitude of their employees, this will never end.

Its the bully pushing the little guy around.

The worse of it is that this was to my face. This was directed not at some faceless bunch of people, but to one person in particular, me.
Old Nov 12, 2008, 11:45 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197
Default I am afraid I have my doubts about this story

This story requires three different people to all have the same homophobic attitude. The first being the check in person, the second being at the gate and the third being on the plane. I think it is hard to imagine that this was all going on at the same you think they colluded? Is it possible that you are perceiving poor service as being homophobic discrimination rather than just poor service?
Old Nov 12, 2008, 12:30 PM
YvonneEriksson YvonneEriksson is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 3

It might have been poor service, and I may have accepted it, had the stewardess not said "thats the a damn lesbian **** wants first class treatment".

That implies that at least one person mentioned my tshirt to her
Old Nov 13, 2008, 12:02 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197
Default Without a doubt, if the stewardess said that it was homophobic and unacceptable

It would also be illegal in the UK, as discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in providing a service is against the law. I assume BA have offered the 5,000 miles as a courtesy to try to keep your custom, rather than as "compensation". Any investigation would essentially come down to your word against hers, and I am sure she would have denied saying it, even if she had said it, as she would have been dismissed if she admitted it.

However, particularly in the workplace, it is not so easy in this day an age, to be overtly homophobic or racist with colleagues, as you risk them reporting you. This is why I think the chain of poor service you describe is more likely to be poor service than systematic homophobia. Particularly, if I might say so, in BA as I would suggest that there is a higher proportion of cabin staff in BA who are gay than would be represented in the population as a whole.

One last thing.. is it possible you heard correctly? I ask because it may be that because you were wearing a t-shirt which expressed your sexuality quite overtly, and were receiving poor service, that you have put 2 and 2 together and got 5. I am no defender of the airlines, but have to say that, as a gay man myself, I have found BA quite accepting. For example, my bf and I were celebrating an anniversary and were given free champagne..and that was in Economy. Also, if the stewardess was British, **** is used much less in the UK than in the US. A more likely perjorative would be ****** or Lezzer. Just a possibility that you were feeling that your treatment was a result of homophobia and perhaps misheard. Of course, you could just as easily be right, and in a just world that employee would be sacked, but without proof BA would be unable to take action. Therefore, the token gesture was made. I doubt you will get any more from them.

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