Billy Canu, tech firm CEO, claims United rep in Denver called him and partner "faggots"

Categories: News

billy canu and michael.jpg
Michael and Billy.
Note to homophobes: If you aim a gay slur at an Internet expert, the whole world is going to hear about it.

That's one of many lessons in the story of Billy Canu, a tech-firm CEO who used social media to accuse a United Airlines employee in Denver of calling him and his partner "faggots."

Canu certainly knows his way around the Internet. He's the man in charge of SEOHaus, a San Diego-based firm that specializes in search engine optimization. He also familiar with social media -- which explains why his Facebook post about an incident that allegedly took place at Denver International Airport on Saturday has circulated so quickly.

The entire account is below -- but to synopsize, Canu says he and his partner, Michael, visited the United lounge at DIA in advance of a planned 7:07 p.m. flight to San Diego and received ultra-rude service from the employees there. Then, rather than chastising the staffers, the manager asked the pair to leave. An argument ensued, and when the men finally began walking away, they claim the manager called them "idiots," followed by the mocking remark, "What faggots."

In short order, Canu's story began circulating on blog sites like Back2Stonewall, with news organizations such as the Hollywood Reporter picking it up, too. Also taking on the tale was 7News, which got an official comment from United Airlines in response to the claims: "United does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We have received this complaint and are reviewing, and we will reach out to the customer directly."

Not exactly the type of PR United needs in advance of the Christmas travel season. Look below to read Canu's Facebook post.

Story of our United Airlines incident where we were called faggot: My partner and I were catching the 7:07pm flight from Denver to San Diego on Saturday, November 26th 2011.

We arrived at Denver airport and proceeded to the United lounge. We are both Gold members with United/Star Alliance and have had no problem entering the lounges when traveling in Gold status.

We went to customer service and the line was empty. My partner and walked to the front of the rope and stood there waiting, there were four staff behind the desk (1 male, 3 female) and one male stood beside them. We were initially ignored as all five were chatting to each other. One was reading a magazine on hair and nails. The gentleman at the side of the desk beckoned us over, yet still we were ignored. The four staff started laughing with each other as to who was going to help, pointing to each other. One woman said 'I can't help as I'm pregnant' and laughed at us. A lady (whose name we did not take) then proceeded to 'help' We asked what the difference was with the Gold access to the lounges, but she could not help. She simply told us that Gold access was for international only as 'those tickets cost more' in a very condescending tone.

Eventually the gentleman to the side of the desk explained the difference, that there are open wide access Gold lounges and United members clubs. What we had tried to enter was a members club. The lady who served us went back to reading her magazine and I apologized for interrupting her magazine reading and explained she was rude. She looked up, again with a condescending attitude and said 'Im soooo sorry'

My partner then backed up my cause explaining how rude she was, again we were met with 'Im so sorry' This wasn't an apology, but a mere attempt at belittling us. The conversation got heated and then Rodney Hill, the 'manager' appeared. The conversation went like this:

RH: 'It's time for you men to leave'
My partner: 'You haven't assessed the situation, you've just turned up half way through and are demanding we leave'
RH: 'I don't care, you need to leave now or I will have you removed from the airport and you won't fly'
MP: 'And who are you and what is your role'
RH: 'I am the manager' (delivered with a patronizing tone)

This conversation went back and forth for approximately a minute and I then ushered my partner away. Rodney was continuing to threaten us by removing us from the airport. We posed no 'threat' to be removed from the airport, the only aggravation we showed was upset from a rude service desk clerk.

After walking away Rodney followed us and continued to fuel the fire. We did challenge him to act better. He then followed us threatening again to remove us, as to which point we walked away.

Rodney Hill then shouted 'idiots' at us. Angered at this my partner attempted to walk back to challenge him, my partner shouted 'what was that?' and Rodney replied. 'What faggots?' before walking back to the customer service desk.

At this point I pulled my partner back. There was simply no point going back to the desk area as we would have been removed with force from the airport. We were not winning and could not communicate with any of the staff at this area.

We couldn't get pictures or couldn't talk to a manager for fear of getting removed from our flight. We sat in the waiting area, both of us visibly upset and shaken by what had happened. I then returned to the desk and asked for Rodney's full name. He responded by saying 'dont you dare patronize me'

Click here to follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

More from our Business archive: "Dear United Airlines: It's Over!"

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Funinsnow
Funinsnow

What I have to ask is whether the 2 homos were rude to the CSR who replied by calling them faggots.  If this is true, then it puts understanding into why it happened.  I don't know where Michael Roberts is going but I think being 'homphobic' is good, just as it's good to be against drug junkyism.  I used to be neutral on homosexuality but in 2005, I changed my view to thinking that homosexuality &lesbianism needs to be cured no matter why it happens.  Politics beats science on this incl. on topics like 'gay violence.'  Most violence against gays & lesbians are domestic violence cases which usu. don't get reported in the press unless it's a strange assault&battery, famous person or murder case.  The natioal media usu. writes about the cases where straight man bashes or kills gay because those cases are unusual, strange & odd. News is about odd things.  Also most cases of 'gay bashings' by straight men are men reacting or overreacting to criminal abuse the gay did.  I'm against starting fights, but if a gay is going to be anti-social such as grab a man's butt or groin against will (assault&battery), then a man has a right to use just force to end the abuse.  Ok, killing a gay in that case maybe excessive force, but the man overreacted to crime the gay did.  Also proposing to some1 repeatedly after no has been said (gay or straight) is harassment. There's no need for a man to have to take anti-social conduct by a gay.  

circeherbivora
circeherbivora

I worked in retail, hence, "customer service" for years.  I don't care what you say- there is NO excuse for a customer to be treated like this.  If they walked in calling people names and swearing, then I could understand them being asked to leave promptly....But some people have NO people skills and shouldn't be allowed to work with anyone, much less represent a business to the public.

Funinsnow
Funinsnow

If a woman smokes pot while pregnant, then it's more likely the kids will turn out homo&lesbian-take part in gay & lesbian activities in adulthood.  The word fag is used for pot & tobacco.  American Indian women (squaws) often smoke pot while pregnant, thus more homos & Lesbians among American Indians.  Drugs are gay & fetal alcohol syndrome + drug junkyism during pregnancy cause homosexuality as homosexuality a birth defect. People take part in gay & lesbian activities often as result of sex abuse esp. homosexual rape in youth or biological defect incl. birth defect if it's inborn.  Cure homosexuality & abolish sex changes.

Jake_V
Jake_V

man there's some fucked up folks out there right....and then there is you.

I'm pretty turned off by an article like this for multiple reasons including the sexuality of the couple, however I recognize that is my issue and deal with it as such.

If you actually believe what you just wrote I would have one suggestion for you, in the words of Maynard James Keenan:

"This sort of behavior is left to the psychotic, dogmatic, fundamentalist believers you see on your TV everyday letting off bombs and killing people in the name of God. Beliefs are dangerous. Beliefs allow the mind to stop functioning. A non-functioning mind is clinically dead. Believe in nothing."

Funinsnow
Funinsnow

JakeV, thanks for your thoughts, but I'm non-religious.  My parents came from Hindu India & though raised as Hindu, I'm a non-religious person who sees something wrong with homo&lesbian activities no matter why it happens.  Hinduism is officially neutral on the homo topic so you can see my reasons are unrelated to faith.  American Indians have violent homosexual cultures such as human sacrifices,  etc.  Now yes, I know that Whites have done some bad things in history, but I'd rather deal with White trash (dealth with more than that in my life) than Injun trash.  American Indians smoke alot of drugs incl. marijuana & peyote both American indian drugs.  American Indians commit more violent crimes.   But to this topic, homosexual rape has been reported among 33% of homosexual men.  Were either of these 2 men homosexually raped in their youth that they did homo activities in adulthood?  If it's true, then their homosexuality is a result of sex abuse.  Otherwise it maybe result of biological defect such as hormones or birth defect-the scientists don't know.  I don't expect homosexuality to disappear anytime soon but if a cure for homosexuality is found, be it shot, pill or surgery, you can be sure that many gays & lesbians would take the cure.  The world's a better place without homo&lesbian activities.  Sex is supposed to be between a man & a woman & it's mainly supposed to be about a woman pleasuring a man with little viceversa.  I'm against anal whether straight or homo-women often fart & shit during sodomy.  With oral, I don't recommend but if it happens then it's woman giving a man head only.  Man's mouth is not meant to perform oral.  Sex is mainly supposed to be man's penis entering woman's vagina.  Again, my reasons are non-religious as i'm not Judeo-christian & I'm not Moslem.  

Whatever
Whatever

This guy's posting gives him away as egocentric, defensive and condescending.  Every single time I've walked up to the customer service desk of an airline lounge, there's an awkward hesitation of the two or three employees there to figure out who will wait on you (interpreted here as "ignoring").  I just walk up and hand out my boarding pass for one to see, if no one takes it, I start to walk by them.  In addition, if you were so close to them to observe that one is reading a magazine "on hair and nails" (really?!? and the point of the "hair and nails" comment isn't meant to be condescending?) why not just start handing your documents over?  One "beckoned you over" but you still felt ignored?  Oh, are all four supposed to hop to your needs?  And the woman who said she couldn't help because she was pregnant was laughing AT YOU?, not her lame joke about herself?  Then you interpret a tone as condescending and finally attack by calling them rude. Final conclusion;  Airline services suck (big surprise) and if you pick a fight over it, don't be surprised if they fight back, like those big meanies calling you names.  If it even happened.

Violetmoonfrog
Violetmoonfrog

What an awful way to be treated by people in "customer service" positions-I hope they have all been fired!

Concerned Citizens
Concerned Citizens

To be honest, I can't believe this made a whole news article. While calling someone a bad name, well is bad, write a review on google reviews. Seems like you just want to stir the pot and make some big deal out of nothing. If I wrote on twitter or facebook anytime someone called me ni**er, then the internet would be full of unjustices

Aguilera
Aguilera

 You are really justice with these words, fair and reasonable, but it is not right to disturb the entertainment interest of the public.

Jake_V
Jake_V

don't you know, anything related to homosexuality is a huge liberal political deal now....its very obvious why this shit is posted, we see it all the time with these damn rainbow parades and this shitty reporting over a couple of feminine men who act like bitches and bitch more when treated as such...

My sister is gay, both of them are actually, and the shit still irritates me.  I don't understand why gay people have this extremely annoying desire, more like need, to show the world how fucking gay they are.

Shut the fuck up already.  Noe one gives a fuck what you eat or suck at 2 am you fucking morons.

Walk up to the counter, act normal, expect shitty service, you're dealing with an airline...if you act like a bitch, you might just get called one.  You act like a faggot, well...

Chikachikahonkhonk
Chikachikahonkhonk

Usually people go to the asshole's manager and complain... however the entire staff seemed to be against them, even though they were addressing how upsetting that name was... THAT deserves an article... that manager should have taken their side like MOST businesses...

Chikachikahonkhonk
Chikachikahonkhonk

If it were the "N" word this wouldn't have happened... no one gets away with that... and nobody would be questioning why this article was written... that is the way it should be for gays as well... unacceptable to be derogatory...

Jake_V
Jake_V

I agree it is unacceptable.  It is also unacceptable to think everyone hates you because of your sexual orientation.  Or to run around acting like a prissy bitch and making sure everyone knows you like to suck dick.

These guys probably shouldn't have been called faggots in public, but I would venture to say they probably should act a little more discreet as well.

And good lord, like I said....the liberal machine has the desire to protect and defend the gays to buy their votes, same as the blacks.  The only difference is they have been trying to get the black vote for 40+ years now, and have only started in on the gays in the last 10.

Stan
Stan

It's refreshing, this story that doesn't involve Bieber, Kardashain, OWS, Cain, Obama, Herpes, and Penn State.  If you'd like, I can send you a "Where's Waldo" book, or perhaps, a copy of "Bernstein Bears get their MMJ licenses."

Str8Vanilla
Str8Vanilla

Dude....seriously? You get called out in a derogatory way in public frequently? Not cool. Wish it were news everytime a biggot opens their mouth so the rest of society can put these haters in their place. I'm guessing hate comments from someone on the job representing a company makes this a bigger deal but any hate like this should not be tolerated.

ConcernedCitizens2
ConcernedCitizens2

Context matters. 

These guys picked a fight by being snotty little shits.  They didn't get called any names without provoking it.  If it even happened the way they claim, and there are serious doubts about whether the word was uttered because there aren't any third-party witnesses, in a fight you get called names.

I wouldn't be surprised if they made it up, just to try to get someone fired because no one kissed their asses.

They wanted attention?  They got it now, and it aint pretty.

Katherine Sumiko
Katherine Sumiko

It's called customer service... as an employee it is NEVER acceptable to throw slurs at customers. If they felt threatened by the customers the manager could of called security instead of yelling "faggot". That's just horrible work ethics, not to mention degrading and completely immoral. No descent person with any bit of self control calls people those type of names. Unacceptable.

ConcernedCitizens2
ConcernedCitizens2

You're assuming it happened the way he says.  I say he made the last part up.  To hell with "they threatened keeping me from my flight"....let the fists fly and have United try to justify keeping you from your flight and defending the bigot and the incident gets formally documented.  Then you'd have a formal incident report with everyone's names and everyone involved.  Sweet documentation for a lawsuit.  Instead, they whined to the internet with no corroboration or documentation.

Both sides suck.  But United didn't go to the internet with it.  And no, the customer isn't always right.  If I'm a lounge member and they aren't, I get access (that I paid for) and they don't.  When they were told they didn't have access, they should've just walked away.  Instead, they picked a fight based on a sense of entitlement then claimed "waaaah, they were mean to me!"

Str8Vanilla
Str8Vanilla

So it's ok to call someone a faggot or nigger if they have attitude? WTF dude? I don't think so.

Sharpshooter
Sharpshooter

A "faggot" is a bundle of sticks. I would've advised the gate agent of this, then regaled him with tales of his father's sexual prowess with German Shepards.

Allamny
Allamny

a faggot that you burn? 

Josh
Josh

Burn as in dry hump combustion?

Barry
Barry

United is consistently one of the worst airlines to fly.  They always have long lines at the check-in counter, they've lost my luggage at least 3 times in as many years, their flights are almost always late and oversold, and their staff is usually very unfriendly.  I definitely believe Canu's account of what happened.

Dexter
Dexter

I failed to see United responding pathetically .. the question remains - was there a real end result or just letting this one go?

Barry
Barry

They will probably offer up two $5 vouchers for drinks on a flight.  Funny, because they've done that to me for losing my luggage, and drinks are typically $8.  

Dexter
Dexter

Are these employees still working there? What did United do? Have they responded? Can't really leave this article unfinished ..

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