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Man Booted From Southwest Flight and Threatened With Arrest After Critical Tweet 928

Posted by samzenpus
from the that's-some-good-costumer-service-work-there-lou dept.
CanHasDIY writes The old saying goes, "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." A man learned the consequences Sunday, after Tweeting about his experience with a rude Southwest gate attendant: "A Minnesota man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent. Duff Watson said he was flying from Denver to Minneapolis on Sunday and tried to board in a spot for frequent flyer privileges he held and take his sons, ages 6 and 9, with him, even though they had a later spot to board the plane. The agent told him that he would have to wait if he wanted to board with his children. Watson replied that he had boarded early with them before and then sent out a tweet that read 'RUDEST AGENT IN DENVER. KIMBERLY S. GATE C39. NOT HAPPY @SWA.' Watson told TV broadcaster KARE in Minneapolis on Wednesday that after he boarded, an announcement came over the plane asking his family to exit the aircraft. Once at the gate, the agent said that unless the tweet was deleted, police would be called and the family would not be allowed back onboard." He gave into the threat, deleted the Tweet, and was allowed to board a later flight. Southwest, as one could have predicted, offered a boilerplate "apology" and vouchers.
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Man Booted From Southwest Flight and Threatened With Arrest After Critical Tweet

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  • Re:Customer service? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaHat (247651) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:46PM (#47527189) Homepage

    Did the agent think the whole thing would be erased from everyone's memory and it would be as if nobody complained?

    To play devils advocate... maybe.

    While from time to time we hear stories like this of some employee who acts in a rather bad way PR wise... how often do you think similar events happen and that we never hear about them? Probably a lot more.

    The morning after a canceled connection flight I had a gate agent threaten to call security on me for using the word 'safety' with regards to my knees being impacted against the seat in front of me on the upcoming flight.

    Granted... it was an excuse for her as she didn't like my attitude (I didn't like having to employ it), I didn't call the media or tweet about the incident, I just pledged to avoid that airline in future... and later upgraded it to a blanket ban after the next time I used the airline (4 years later) a similar event happened where my connecting flight was cancelled and trapping me in the same airport.

  • 2nd tweet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ogive17 (691899) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:06PM (#47527361)
    I would have made a 2nd tweet that Southwest threatened police intervention due to the 1st tweet then asked for the city police (not the airport police)
  • Re:Customer service? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by msauve (701917) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:08PM (#47527369)
    " everyone's worried about boarding early enough so that they don't have to have their bag stuffed 10 seats behind them"

    I blame the assholes who have seats in the rear, but stuff their carryons in the front because they're too lazy to carry them up and down the aisle.
  • by njhunter (613589) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:15PM (#47527403)
    Every time I fly Southwest, their people are energetic and happy. They are probably the best in the business, probably a class unto themselves. This guy however, with what information has been let out, had to be extreme. I'd "luv" to hear what other passengers thought of his behavior!
  • Re:Customer service? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:20PM (#47527435)

    That's all good reason for boarding them last - so they don't slow down those who can board quickly.

    Huh? How does that produce greater efficiency? Let's see, we could:

    (1) Let families board with the first half-dozen groups of random people with various privileges ("Now let's have our first class..." [2 people board, a minute later] "Now let's have business class..." [5 people board, two minutes later] "Now let's have our elite Silver whoop-di-do members..." [no one boards, three minutes later] "Now let's have our Bronze not-so-much-whoop members" [2 guys from the back take 30 seconds to realize they were called and slowly make their way up, chatting on their phones the whole way]... etc., etc.).

    In that case, the families could get settled with almost no one else on the plane, and almost no one else in economy trying to find their seats.

    OR...

    (2) We wait until last, and the families join the end of the long line stopped almost at the gate itself of people waiting to get on. The families with more bags per person and more people to strap in and get settled in their seats per person then spend 10 minutes wandering up and down the aisles trying to find places for their bags and get their kids settled... while the attendants get increasingly testy as they have to go up and down reopening luggage bins and find a pillow for Jr. since he's asleep on Dad's shoulder and no one on the plane wants him to wake up when he's strapped in the seat. And the plane is now going to take off late because we needed 15 minutes to board 10 whoop-di-do members who didn't have to do anything, but now it's crunch-time for the parents who could have already been settled in.

    I completely understand why airlines do NOT let families on early, because they now charge people extra for those privileges. But if they were trying to maximize efficiency instead of profits, it would definitely make sense to move the families on when fewer people are obstacles on the plane.

  • Re:Customer service? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aralin (107264) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:23PM (#47527453)

    More, she needs to be charged with extortion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:44PM (#47527665)

    +3
    I see this and experience this often. So much so that when out with my wife and kids I'll get her to ask for things or handle certain things because she will get much better treatment than I despite the fact that I'm usually a lot more polite than my wife.

    This really does need fixing but these days I think most men feel like they can't even mention it because they have lost before they start. Women's rights have done a lot for them but eventually they will pass the goal and go too far. I even read recently I can't remember her name but she is supposedly the founder of the woman's rights movement and she wrote that she made a mistake and regrets it and that men should be men and that we each have unique roles to play.

    Anyway, this was off topic but it's one of those things that needs attention.

  • LOL, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:56PM (#47527759)

    I (an American) just went on a vacation where I entered Russia, then France, then Russia, then the US on my way home. It went like this:

    Russia: "What plane did you get off of?" "OK, [stamp]"
    France: "Welcome! [stamp]"
    Russia: "Welcome back, Tovarish! [stamp]"
    US: "Spread 'em, Cocksucker. What's this in your bag? Get in this line - no, the other line! Papers, please! Is this your family? Who packed your suitcase? Look into the camera. Make your wife look into the camera. Submit to bacterial scanning. Put your bags in the X-Ray machine and leave them there until they start to smoke. OK, Meatwad, we'll let you in, but consider this a warning!"

    This place has gotten so xenophobic it's silly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:57PM (#47527767)

    Its actually written in the rules: if you, the person with the medallion status, are the one booking the flight and are also traveling then everyone in your booking gets the same privileges as you would traveling alone. Early boarding, upgrade eligibility, etc. Its a normal rule with all airlines.

  • Re:Customer service? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by epiccollision (1373095) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @10:01PM (#47527787)

    flight attendants are great at finding a place for oversized luggage clogging up the overhead bins. if the overhead bin is full sit your carryon on your lap and when they ask why it isn't stowed they will fix it or stow your bag nearby...

  • Re:Customer service? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sribe (304414) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @10:24PM (#47527921)

    You mean SWA should be charged with extortion? She was acting on behalf of the company.

    I'm pretty sure she was far outside the scope of the authority the company granted her to act.

  • Re:LOL, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @10:31PM (#47527977)

    I (an American) just went on a vacation where I entered Russia, then France, then Russia, then the US on my way home. It went like this:

    Russia: "What plane did you get off of?" "OK, [stamp]" France: "Welcome! [stamp]" Russia: "Welcome back, Tovarish! [stamp]" US: "Spread 'em, Cocksucker. What's this in your bag? Get in this line - no, the other line! Papers, please! Is this your family? Who packed your suitcase? Look into the camera. Make your wife look into the camera. Submit to bacterial scanning. Put your bags in the X-Ray machine and leave them there until they start to smoke. OK, Meatwad, we'll let you in, but consider this a warning!"

    This place has gotten so xenophobic it's silly.

    It's not xenophobia. It's eleutherophobia. I'd almost say fear of fellow citizens, but that's just paranoia, and not entirely accurate.

  • Re:Customer service? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GigaplexNZ (1233886) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @10:40PM (#47528037)
    I avoid checked luggage because I'm tired of the airline losing my checked luggage, the extra delays at the other end for collecting the checked luggage etc. It's not like I can actually fit my legs under the chair in front of me anyway on the economy seats I've flown with.
  • Re:Customer service? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@jwsmyt h e . com> on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:57PM (#47528433) Homepage Journal

    No, you really want them to board first.

    For the last year, up until last month, I was barely able to walk. I still had to fly for work. I boarded flights with the kids and anyone else that needed help.

    The parent doesn't just stow their stuff and sit down. They stow the kids bags, get the kids to sit down, shut up, buckles on, no you can't go to the bathroom, blah, blah, blah.

    For me, it took me about 4x as long just to get down the airway. A guy barely walking down the ramp with passengers walking normal speed definitely held up the flow, no matter how much room I tried to leave. I still got held up by the parents with kids, and I didn't care. I'd just sit on the nearest armrest until they were done.

    You don't want me, or the parents with kids slowing you down. People are assholes enough boarding planes.

    If you wait for them to board last, now you'll have parents trying to stow bags in the last few spots (if there are any), trying to get the kids in their seats at the same time, and having the kid(s) climbing over other passengers.

    For me, barely able to walk, if I had to take the window seat, that would mean everyone in the other seat(s) would have to move. Walking on a cane, I wasn't able to just squeeze by anyone, especially if there were no good seats available. It was still hard just to get *to* the window seat.

    And before any of you complain, since surgery I can walk fine. The cane is retired at least for another 30 years.

  • by Firethorn (177587) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:16AM (#47528509) Homepage Journal

    I'm wondering a little differently. I wonder how plugged in that gate representative must of been to find and successfully identify the source of the tweet and call the family off the plane before it left.

    I say this because I don't see some SWA social media monitoring department demanding the tweet be removed in that fashion. I figure it was the 'dissed' gate rep herself that did it.

  • by iksbob (947407) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:21AM (#47528525)

    That was my knee-jerk reaction as well. Thinking it though, SouthWest must have a group dedicated to monitoring social media postings in order to respond that quickly. Surely this group is familiar with the Streisand Effect, and would not take such action against the passenger. Rather, I suspect the punitive action came from the same gate attendant that the passenger complained about.
    Gate attendant gets pissy with passenger -> passenger posts complaint -> SW social media group reads complaint -> SW calls gate attendant and tells her to fix it (i.e. apologize) or it will come up at her performance review -> pissy gate attendant calls passenger back to the gate and threatens him.

  • Re:What?!? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday July 25, 2014 @01:02AM (#47528699)

    and threatened to have him arrested? you think that's fully legal? but they (air waitresses) have so much power, they likely COULD cook up something that would cause the guy to go to jail. its absurd that attendants have this much power, but lately in the last 10 or so years, they do. its bullshit but they do have power over you.

    if I was the guy being abused like this, I'd ask them 'have you ever heard of the streisand effect. I'll wait, you go look it up and then come back and see if you want the PR fallout that you're gonna get. go google it. here, use my phone.'

    no shit, I'd put them on the worry, or at least give them some insight as to the huge mistake THEY are about to make.

    they could still cause me trouble, but I would NOT delete a post (I don't tweet or fb) on some company's request unless what I said was truly illegal or against some contract (like an employment contract). but being a CUSTOMER and being threatened with jail unless you remove your freedom-of-speech right, that's just beyond what I would put up with.

    at least the story made the news, so the end effect of his post is now the same and the airline did NOT win this time out.

  • by BenJeremy (181303) on Friday July 25, 2014 @01:35AM (#47528831)

    It must be nice to take a stranger's word and believe entirely in their side of a story.

    This passenger intended to intimidate the gate agent for following the rules - that becomes obvious when you know he had to inform them of the tweet. It seems more likely that he was overbearing and pitching a bit of a fit, and the agent might have felt threatened.

    There is a lot more to this story we will never know, but if you try and see it from the agent's perspective, you become aware of other possibilities - some of which are more likely. At this point, we only have the passenger's word that they threatened to call the police, and for that matter, the same can be said about removing the tweet.

    Who's to say another agent suggested they call security over the guy ranting and throwing a tantrum over not being granted special privileges, and he realized what that meant, and suddenly decided to back down - until he could go to the press with his horror story after the fact (thus completing his threats and gaining his "revenge"); removing the tweet was just a temporary gesture to placate the agents that he had "calmed down" while he plotted to "expose the rude bitch" later. (Just a theory here)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2014 @01:44AM (#47528869)

    Yeah had this out once. My wife took one or two of the kids into a store. I have the other two or three. Some lady started ranting at me about lazy etc not going in.

    I said so should I wake up the younger two or leave them in the van by themselves. Shut her the hell up very quickly. Its amazing the BS dad's get in public.

  • Re:Customer service? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Harlequin80 (1671040) on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:44AM (#47529083)

    Also I would add. I have done a large number of long haul flights with my two girls and I learnt something from a pilot I met once. His advice was carry the kids car seat and put them in that. So now you will see me wheeling a compact fold up pram with two car seats precariously balanced on top of them as I make my way through the airport. When I get on the plane the car seat gets strapped into the chair and the kid into the car seat.

    Two big reasons - 1 the can't get out of those. 5 point harness and a kid proof clip. 2 the first time my eldest had a seat of her own was the worst flight of my life. She would fall asleep in her chair and slump against the airplane seat belt. It would slowly loosen off till she fell out of the seat. Can you imaging the horror of a 2 year old who keeps being woken up every 15 minutes on a 24 hour flight... Oh dear god.... I spent 5 hours on the last leg walking back and forth in the crew area carrying her as it was the only way to stop the screaming.......

  • Re:LOL, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hieronymus Howard (215725) on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:45AM (#47529089)

    That's why the US is called "The Land of the Free".

    Tell that to people often enough and they'll start to believe it. Even if the reality is completely the opposite.

  • Re:Customer service? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by retchdog (1319261) on Friday July 25, 2014 @11:09AM (#47531433) Journal

    And before any of you complain, since surgery I can walk fine.

    Did you just apologize to a bunch of whiny pricks for being crippled?! What the fuck, man?

    I'm glad you got surgery. Thanks for the account of your experiences.

  • by hondo77 (324058) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:54PM (#47532443) Homepage
    Wait, you're actually complaining that Southwest didn't let your family cut ahead of others? Really? Here's a tip: next time you have an A ticket and your family has B tickets and you all want to sit together, why don't you slip back into the B group.

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