Gay parents say Southwest Airlines discriminated against their family

Same-sex couple with twins says airline denied them family boarding

By Derek Shore, Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Jacob Lapp and David Forstadt took their two 6-year-old daughters on an adventure to New York. They had four tickets on Southwest Airlines to return to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. 

The family had a layover in Orlando Monday. A gate agent refused to allow them to board the plane during family boarding time.

The couple said that to add to their inconvenience, the Southwest Airlines employee was rude. Without a clear explanation, she said, "No! There is categories for a reason. Not you!" and "No! Move!"

Since the airline offers family boarding, Lapp and Forstadt believe the Southwest Airlines employee left them waiting because she discriminated against them. 

"We are a family and we want to be represented as a family just like everyone else," Forstadt said. 

Eventually, the Southwest Airlines employee allowed the family of four to board the flight and take their seats. Their twin girls were upset. The airline issued a statement apologizing for the "less than positive travel experience."

The same-sex couple filed a complaint and they are not the first to do so. 

The company's website has a section for LGBT Outreach and Gay Friendly Travel. Grant Morse and Sam Ballachino, a same-sex couple with three children, filed a discrimination lawsuit against the airline earlier this year when they weren't allowed to board as a family in Fort Lauderdale.  

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