If It Matters To [Us], It Matters To [You]: Twin Cities Man Claims He Was Forced Off Plane With His Two Children And Told To Delete Critical Tweet Of Southwest Airline

Southwest_Air_LogoIt appears that passengers now tweet at their own peril on airlines. We have previously seen how tweets have gotten passengers pulled from planes, including tweets that simply joked or criticized an airline. Now in Minneapolis, Duff Watson says that he was pulled from a Southwest Airlines flight because he tweeted his dissatisfaction with a gate agent. He says that the agent told him that his tweet calling her rude left her feeling threatened and that he could only fly with his children if he deleted the tweet. It appears a new twist on the company’s slogan, If it matters to you, it matters to us.

Watson says that the conflict arose when the agent refused to let him board early with his two children. He is on the priority boarding list but the agent said that his 6-year-old and 9-year-old kids were not. He objected to the notion of leaving his kids to board separately. He then said “Real nice way to treat an A-list. I’ll be sure to tweet about it.” And he did. When he boarded the flight, he tweeted “Wow, rudest agent in Denver. Kimberly S, gate C39, not happy @SWA.”

That is when he says that the three were approached on plane in their seats and told, according to the family, that the tweet was “threatening” and that they would have to leave the plane. His daughter said that the agent said that she was going to call the police. Watson said that he was forced to delete the tweet as his kids began to cry.

Southwest later apologized and offered the family $50 vouchers. The airline says that it is investigating the incident. Here is my question. Such actions usually require notice to the pilots or a supervisor. Why didn’t anyone stop the agent and say “Wow, you cannot force people to delete criticisms of us Kimberly.” The tweet itself contained no profanity or threat or even Kimberly’s last name. For those critical of the changes in air travel, it is another chilling glimpse into the increased sense of power of flight crew over passengers, particularly in removing passengers from flights.

Source: CBS

31 thoughts on “If It Matters To [Us], It Matters To [You]: Twin Cities Man Claims He Was Forced Off Plane With His Two Children And Told To Delete Critical Tweet Of Southwest Airline”

  1. Arthur, whether he was right or wrong or she was in the course of the conversation really doesn’t matter. The issue is the abuse of authority to force him to delete a public comment under threat of being excluded from the flight. Either the gate attendant lied about being frightened, or she should not be in a job which allows her irrational fears to instigate action by security personnel.

  2. I am gonig to back off of my earlier bark against SW Air. I have flown with them in the past with my half blind guy pal and was given a seat next to him despite being a dog. The seat belt thing was an itchBay though.

  3. Glad this one got caught and some justice done. I like Dredd’s comment: There are openings for people like this agent with Homeland Security!… Heck, I feel a little threatened myself every time I fly these days, but its the likes of Homeland Security and airlines who suck up to the new status quo and do extra security checks, that bother me.

    1. syrbal – airline passengers have not had free speech since 9/11. However, no one has been convicted yet for stripping naked for TSA. And I applaud those who have done it. 🙂

      1. I quit flying in 2005. That was when I flew to my military son’s side before surgery. And the TSA made me take off diamond earrings as if a movie had been their training film. If I had continued flying? I was considering henna tattoos of a disparaging nature..

  4. This gate agent certainly is not typical of Southwest at all. The gate agent is in BIG trouble for this. Southwest almost always backs up their employees since their slogan is the employee is right, most of the time and it makes for a great airline. That they immediately said the employee was wrong and paid out for this flub is not good news for the gate agent. My guess is that the gate agent is gone, or is in for some remedial training.

    1. randyjet – part of Southwest’s appeal is that it is partially owned by its employees, that gives them a buy in to make it a great airline. I am very surprised by this action, it is very out of character for Southwest.

  5. Greg
    Strange, customer satisfaction surveys rank Southwest Airlines as #2.

    changed my nephews diaper last weekend, #2 there too.

  6. Fifty dollar voucher? I received vouchers five times that in exchange to be voluntarily bumped to a later flight. Sounds insincere

    Threatened by a criticism? I don’t believe her.

  7. How would she have time? This isn’t the first time an air line has done this kind of thing. Corporations seem to monitor ever thing possibly with NSA help. I used to think people who thought they were being spied on were mentally ill, not any more.

  8. I have to say, this sounds like a one-off for Southwest. I’ve never seen anyone, gate agent or plane crew, that wasn’t great.

    That said, the gate agent that kicked them off the plane is toast. Fired, done. Beside the embarrassment Southwest suffered, why was this employee monitoring twitter while working? If I was the passenger, I would have been tempted to have the police called. And then find out if criticizing customer service has become a crime.

    This is the natural result of complete capitulation to the security industry. All you have to say is some variation of post 9/11 world and most people surrender. I think it’s about time to start calling some of these morons out, and that includes the Homeland Security agents that don’t seem to be doing much homeland security anymore, but sure are becoming a well armed interior police force.

  9. Many gate agents do not actually work for the airline, but rather for a management company that subs out the work. They are also the ones who are the super-cops on baggage size. It cost me an extra $50 for a carryon that should have been (and already had been) an approved bag. Since we were loading and they tend to arrest irate passengers, I paid the money. However, I still feel extorted by the airlines subcontractor.

  10. How is a gate agent threatened by a passenger who is already on board the plane? If anything the gate agent should feel more threatened if the passenger is taken off the plane and brought back to the area where the agent is working. The excuse for removing the passenger (and his children) does not even pass the smell test.

    What’s more I always thought that passengers flying with children were allowed to board first. In the case of Southwest airlines this is especially important since seats are not pre-assigned and parents want to be sure they are seated in the same row as their children.

  11. Wikipedia says that the President of Southwest Airlines is: Gary C. Kelly. That twit needs a tweet. Southwest Airlines is now on my itShay List. It is not as low on the totem pole as Malaysia Airlines but it is close.

  12. All the lingo here is confusing. The long and short of it is that Kimberly is a twit. Now how do I communicate that to Kimberly at Southwest Airlines? I do not subscribe to Twitter or Tweeter or whatever ya call it. The President of Southwest Airlines needs to see this blog.

  13. Strange, customer satisfaction surveys rank Southwest Airlines as #2.

    Southwest launched a new survey program last year that sends questionnaires to customers the day after they fly. Scores are sent to each airport station manager weekly.
    But Southwest tries not to blitz customers—they can’t get more than one survey every six months.

    Tweet: Father with 2 sons are terrorizing the gate agent.

  14. … the agent told him that his tweet calling her rude left her feeling threatened …” -JT

    There is an opening at Homeland Security for people like that.

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