Calls for training after alleged incident involving gay couple

by L&D16 Jun 2016
A couple has called for cultural training after an alleged incident involving Emirates Airline and Dubai Airport.

Lee Charlton, his partner Jason and his son Kieran were travelling from Dubai to Durban, after originally leaving Manchester.

Charlton described on his Facebook page that he approached the service desk at Dubai Airport and handed over their documents. 

He said the woman working behind the check-in counter gave him a “quizzical look” and asked whether his partner or son were his brothers.

“She asked me if Kieran was my brother to which I replied ‘no, my son’. She then looked at Jason my partner and asked the same question with a look of surprise on her face,” Charlton wrote on Facebook.

“She then said she could not issue our tickets and shouted her manager over.

"He looked at the documents and then at us and said we may not be allowed to travel we asked when and he said its South Africa not us. He asked us to wait in a room and did not give us any indication to what the problem was."

After an hour Charlton went to find the gentleman, but could not find him.

"After two hours I went to the desk to ask what was going on and the lady said that we had to get clearance for us to travel to South Africa,” he added.

Charlton said he asked why and explained he had already checked all this out prior to departure.

“I was getting stressed as our connecting flight was now boarding,” he said.

“I asked if it was because we are gay and I was laughed at. I have never felt so embarrassed." 

"I then asked what was funny and the lady then realised what she had done and then went to fetch the manager who had my pass port and documents. They both approached and said we were free to travel."

Charlton said he didn't make a fuss as they had 30 minutes to get to their flight and Dubai is a big airport,

“You really need to give culture training to your teams, as Dubai is one of the biggest airports in the world and gay people who have adopted will become more frequent.

Charlton ended his Facebook post by saying he “would be happy to help” as he would never want anyone else to go through the same experience.

Emirates has released a statement saying they were actually adhering to South African visa policies and correcting an error in the passenger’s paperwork.

An Emirates spokesperson said in a statement:‘’At Emirates we do our best to provide our passengers with the very best customer service and travel advice and we’re sorry to hear about Mr. Charlton’s complaint.
"Since 1st June 2015, according to South African regulations, anyone travelling to the country with a minor under 18 needs to prove parenthood or guardianship – while adults travelling alone with their children need to show that they have the consent of their non-travelling partner.

"Like all airlines, we must comply with the laws of every country in which we operate and this is a shared responsibility with passengers, who are required to hold valid travel documents for all countries on their itinerary.
"We note that the Charlton family continued on Emirates flight EK 775 to Durban, as booked. We regret any inconvenience caused, however, compliance with international laws concerning child protection will not be compromised.”

Related stories:

Mother pumping breast milk on Jetstar flight calls for further training