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Airline Apologizes for Linen-change Request Made After Gay Group Flies

April 29, 1993 GMT

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ American Airlines said it was sorry that an employee requested new linens aboard a plane because participants in the Washington gay-rights march flew on it.

A gay-rights group said Thursday it accepted the apology.

Bruce Monroe, former president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, complained to the carrier Wednesday after he found out about an internal airline report requesting the change of pillows and blankets.

The report said: ″inbd crew req complete chg of all pillows blankets due gay rights activits group onbd.″

Airline spokesman Al Becker said the lead flight attendant told airline officials the request was made only because there were too few blankets and some were used to mop up a tomato sauce spill after Monday’s flight from Washington.

The flight attendant said the crew never mentioned gays when requesting the new blankets, Becker said. The message was phrased by a ground operations employee, he said.

The airline called the report ″outrageous, objectionable and unfortunate.″

″This is of grave, grave concern,″ Becker said. ″We do apologize as a corporation.″ The airline said it would investigate before considering disciplinary measures.

David Taffet, vice president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, said his group is satisfied with the airline’s response. ″We were looking for an apology,″ he said.

Airline officials said blankets and pillows are removed at the end of each day, but a request for a change between flights isn’t extraordinary.

Taffet said he thought American also needed to give sensitivity and AIDS- awareness classes to its employees. But Becker said those programs are already in place.

Taffet said many flight attendants had called to voice their indignation. Becker said American also has received ″lots of calls on both sides of the equation.″

A second incident occurred Monday involving American Airlines and gay- rights activists.

During a flight from Washington to John Wayne Airport in California, the Rev. Lou Sheldon of Orange County, Calif., founder of the Traditional Values Coalition, complained he felt threatened by gay activists on the flight, the airline said. The activists said they simply wanted to greet him.

The captain moved Sheldon to the first-class cabin and told passengers to remain in their seats, said airline spokesman Tim Smith. There were no arrests. Neither side blamed the airline.