According to a tweet by Soloist and Chamber Musician Liam Byrne, a staff member of a major airline threatened to eject him yesterday for holding hands with the man he was seated next to.
The offensive airline? British Airways
The airline’s next steps (if they haven’t already started it) is to bring out their policies and make a statement about the situation to try to smooth over the situation. The company website specifically dedicated to “Diversity and Inclusion” touts:
As a global airline carrying customers of different nationalities, cultures, religions and sexual orientation, British Airways is committed to actively promoting diversity and understanding. We offer advice, guidance, information and support for managers and colleagues relating to the latest discrimination laws, and we have compliance and behavioural training on diversity and inclusion [emphasis added].
It sounds as though British Airways is out of compliance and need to up the training on diversity and inclusion quite significantly.
The same page makes valid claims about how appropriate behavior and inclusivity could indeed make every customer feel valued.
We fully agree!
But, you have to act inclusively and not single out passengers who have paid for the airline’s services (step one, perhaps?).
Not embarrassing your passengers is another step.
And ending the homophobic ignorance on British Airways‘ payroll is crucial.
Got something to say to British Airways? Say it here.
Yep, the airline’s website further states:
By recognising and embracing the differences in our colleagues and customers, whether that be their sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ethnicity or specific disability needs, we aim to create an inclusive environment that makes every customer feel valued. By seeking to understand our customers more we are able to deliver the personal touch that makes a difference to their experience with the airline.
Mr. Byrne got a “personal touch” alright, but the only kind touch he received came from the man whose hand he was holding when British Airways treated him as a second class citizen. Maybe lower.
Airlines may have seating sections based on class, but those classes shouldn’t apply in the real world – we’re trying to move past class and discrimination. The global marketplace has enough homophobia and violence with British Airways adding to it. We don’t need the British Airways staff treating people as “less than” anyone else.
We suggest the airline try providing first class service to everyone – regardless of who they are – rather than threatening to “eject them” from flights. We also think British Airways owes millions of queer persons and their allies a heartfelt (read: real) apology.
Maybe use its significant resources to call attention to the hateful laws discriminating against the queer community in Russia.