Southwest CEO on lesbian actress’ removal from flight: ‘We’re not trying to dictate social norms’

Posted on 29 Sep 2011 at 11:59am

Gary Kelly, CEO of Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, is standing behind an SWA flight crew’s decision to remove lesbian actress Leisha Hailey and her partner from a plane on Monday after they were observed kissing.

After Hailey, who starred in The L-Word and is a member of the band Uh Huh Her, called for a boycott of the airline on Twitter, SWA released a statement describing the kissing as “excessive.”

Hailey responded with a statement saying it was “one, modest kiss,” before the airline issued a follow-up saying the couple was removed from the flight during a stop in El Paso due to their “aggressive reaction,” including loud use of “profane language.”

Hailey’s publicist tells Instant Tea that the actress isn’t doing interviews about the incident, but Kelly (pictured) discussed it with The Houston Chronicle on Wednesday.

“We’re not trying to dictate social norms,” Kelly told the Chronicle. “Any of us have boundaries that we think people should behave within. …

“I think our people try very hard to accommodate the needs and the wishes of our customers, and they make judgments of what is appropriate and what is not appropriate,” Kelly said. “In all cases, we do the best we can to take care of our customers and if we can’t get them where they need to go, obviously we’re apologetic for that. … 

“It’s very difficult to script out exactly how one should deal with any particular circumstance.”

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