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

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:34PM (#47527099)

    Kimberly sure sounds like a cunt.

  • by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:36PM (#47527111) Homepage

    Using publically visible information (nametag & gate sign) to state an opinion constitutes harassment?

    God help the reviewers on Yelp or Angie'sList who give their opinions on different businesses.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:36PM (#47527115)

    LOL, "American Freedom"!

  • What?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SternisheFan ( 2529412 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:37PM (#47527127)
    So any online criticism of any company has to be a "happy" criticism? The "truth" is no longer welcome? What a screwed up world.
  • Customer service? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Calibax ( 151875 ) * on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:38PM (#47527133)

    Pulling a family off a flight and threatening to summon the police seems pretty intense. They must have done something very bad. What? One of them tweeted about poor customer service before entering the aircraft? That's it?

    Did the SWA agent seriously think that threatening the family with not being able to fly and reporting the man to the police (for what?) unless he deleted the tweet would be the end of it? Did the agent think the whole thing would be erased from everyone's memory and it would be as if nobody complained? That's not the way it works. Now everyone in her management chain knows who she is, and not in a good way. Creating a PR incident like this will not go without notice. It's a variant of the Streisand effect.

    It's not important to the story, but at least one airline I've flown has figured out that it's good customer service to allow people who spend a lot of money travelling on their airline have their children treated to the same boarding privilege - especially as it costs the airline nothing to do so.

  • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:40PM (#47527155) Homepage

    How did Southwest find out about this tweet?

    Do they have a team of people sitting around watching a Twitter feed, so that if anyone mentions Southwest they can pounce?

    If so, good job guys! You really saved the day here. SWA stock is going to go up tomorrow for sure! :^)

  • by ruir ( 2709173 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:42PM (#47527165)
    I would fire the agent for starters, and whoever was involved.
  • by rwven ( 663186 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:43PM (#47527171)

    The passenger is to blame because the airline threatened legal action over something that wasn't illegal?

    Passenger is an idiot, SWA was criminal.

  • by hduff ( 570443 ) <<hoytduff> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:45PM (#47527181) Homepage Journal

    AFAIK, he told the agent he made the tweet, so his "I'll show you" attitude figured into the equation. The agents' "You're not the boss of me" attitude was also a part. Result: Two asshats vie for the title of "Biggest Dick". And they both won.

  • by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:48PM (#47527213) Homepage

    Why do you assume her consent would be required?

    The airport is a public place and there is little right to privacy or anonymity when in public... doubly so when you are wearing a name tag.

  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:50PM (#47527233)
    That's all good reason for boarding them last - so they don't slow down those who can board quickly.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:57PM (#47527295)


            aggressive pressure or intimidation.

    What kind of sycophant would label this tweet as harassment?

    Also, what type of asshole employee would separate a man from his two young children?

    Finally, it would be great to see the 180 degree flip in reaction if the airline attendant had been male and the passenger had been female with her two young children.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:00PM (#47527313)

    After all, he committed several unforgivable sins in a police state:
    1. Being critical of authority
    2. Having an opinion about authority, instead of accepting it as god-like
    3. Communicating said opinion

    I see sedition, inciting violence and refusing to let proper authority mishandle him. Of course, if he let them call the police, he would probably have been shot.

  • by Stripe7 ( 571267 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:02PM (#47527331)
    SWA is negligent to their stockholders for not keeping up with the times. They should know all about twitter and the effects 1 annoyed passenger can have. It is a matter of training and putting procedures in place. The Gate attendant was in the right, and could have just made the point that she would be annoying the other priority passengers by giving him priority when he was not due it. SWA management completely mishandled it and blew it out of all proportion by stopping the flight and yanking the passengers thereby making a newsworthy story and giving themselves a very expensive case of bad publicity. It could have been handled by just a tweet explaining the policy and why putting him ahead of others would have been bad for other passengers. Then it would not have been a news story.
  • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:05PM (#47527357) Homepage Journal

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

    I promise the plane won't take off without you. What, are you in a hurry to cram yourself into an airline seat instead of enjoying the comfort of the airport lounge for another 10 minutes or so? Entitled much?


  • by pkinetics ( 549289 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:12PM (#47527385)

    Not disagreeing, but clarifying

    The way I read it, he had a 1st class ticket, but his kids were traveling economy. So he was trying to board them at the same time as first class, even though they were not.

    On his other leg, the boarding agent allowed it. But on this portion the boarding agents disagreed.

    So, rather than recognizing that the other agent had been extra nice granting him a privilege, he disparaged the one who followed the rules.

    I'm sure there is more to the story, but the whole thing won't come out cause SW and the agent won't say anything else.

    I also don't doubt that someone went a little excessive, but I suspect both sides overreacted.

  • by fightinfilipino ( 1449273 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:16PM (#47527413) Homepage

    my guess is that things were not as one sided as this story leads to believe.

    just because a passenger is a customer that should be treated with respect does NOT mean that the passenger doesn't have to follow crewmember instructions. if the passenger was being particularly difficult because he had his two snowflakes in tow and did not want to abide by Southwest's procedures, he should not be allowed on the plane.

    given what's happened recently in aviation, one would think safety is important. safety shouldn't be shrugged off merely because a passenger whines when he doesn't get out of the ordinary preferential treatment.

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:29PM (#47527517)

    to tweet her rudeness after you land.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:29PM (#47527523)
    This. As a father with kids, there is a serious double standard. Particularly with women. When my wife goes places with my daughter, she gets helped out, and treated like a parent. When I do the same, it only seems to be other fathers who give me a hand.

    Men really need to start to stand up for equal rights.
  • Works Fine For Me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:30PM (#47527535)

    ie. their boarding system is utter shit to begin with.

    A matter of opinion. It works very well if you pre-print your boarding passes 24 hours before departure time. I have *NEVER* had anything but A or B.

    Southwest (who still does not charge for 2 checked bags) has always treated my wife and I well. We have traveled with our grand children many times.

    If you know and follow the well established and well know rules for obtaining your boarding pass and boarding the jet, it's a very smooth process.

    But on the other hand, if you're an "entitled power flyer", your asshole attitude will get you nowhere.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:32PM (#47527553)

    The US government is quite evil. Otherwise, the TSA (as well as all the other constitutional and rights violations, like the NSA mass surveillance, stop-and-frisk, DUI checkpoints, protest permits, etc.) simply would not exist.

  • by Zaelath ( 2588189 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:36PM (#47527585)

    TBH, the only reason I want to get on first is to make sure I can put my one bag in the overhead luggage, instead of getting on late and having to explain to a bunch of yahoos that their purse/satchel/gift/other trash belongs under the seat in front of them and not overhead blocking a bag that doesn't fit under the seat.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:48PM (#47527697)

    Spoken like someone who doesn't have kids. He wasn't line cutting - he just wanted his kids with him so they could sit together.

    Then he could have WAITED with his kids.

    You are an idiot, and your own sense of entitlement is obvious.

    The fact that the douche bag "wanted" something doesn't mean he was entitled
    to it. Fuck him, fuck his children, and fuck all you twits who think that you are so
    special that the rules don't apply to you.

  • by Cramer ( 69040 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:54PM (#47527749) Homepage

    Who gives a shit? He was told no, bitched about it, and the asshole gate monkey had a fucking fit over it. a) she has ZERO right to have him remove the comment [acting with government authority, that's a 1st amendment violation], b) she has no authority to remove them from the plane over it, and c) the only police actionable crime was HERS. Any frustration on his part is understandable; hers, on the other hand, is criminally inexcusable -- dealing with irate, unhappy people is 90% of her damned job.

    Sadly, this is exactly the sort of bullshit over-reaching of authority many people have at airports (esp. big busy ones) -- all the way down to the janitors. (the I-work-here-and-have-a-key-card mentality.)

  • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @10:09PM (#47527845)

    Absolutely. Have a bad day, make one wrong judgment call, and see your livelihood vanish. Good luck getting another job.

    Fired? Maybe not, unless this was a pattern of bad behavior. Suspended for a week or two? Yes, absolutely.

    Where do you work, I wonder, that you believe people who have flaws, like we all do, should be treated like used tissues?

    Just my opinion, but this goes beyond a minor "flaw" or a slight error in judgment. The guy had already shown his willingness to publicize his dissatisfaction by tweeting about a minor inconvenience, and this employee provided him with a much worse story to tell. Any person with common sense should have seen this as the potential for some seriously bad publicity.

    There were many ways to handle this and defray the damage from the initial tweet, from a sincere apology and perhaps offer for free future tickets or upgrade (if the employee wanted to use kindness) or a response tweet thanking the customer for his feedback and also thanking all the other customers for following the rules (if the employee wanted to be passive aggressive but still make a point).

    Escalating a minor disagreement with a customer into a public fight is just not a good idea, and employees who can't avoid that do deserve punishment. Customers can be jerks sometimes. Employees have a corporate image to uphold, though, and they need to aspire to a higher standard -- they're getting paid to be there. The customer was not.

  • Re:What?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @10:22PM (#47527911)
    "Truth" You've obviously never seen the UK series Airline. Agents gladly *cause* people to miss flights. Never piss an agent off. They didn't criticize the company, but the company's agent. She got them back. oops, missed your flight.
  • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @10:30PM (#47527961)

    Where do you work, I wonder, that you believe people who have flaws, like we all do, should be treated like used tissues?

    I've worked in retail. I've dealt with real assholes. I have NEVER EVER even come anywhere near the kind of absolutely unacceptable behavior exhibited by this agent, nor did I ever see any my colleagues do anything remotely like it not ever. She absolutely should be fired.

    Complaining to the guy, OK. Calling him off the plane, questionable. Threatening to call the police over a complaint, fired, ASAP.

    Think about it for a minute--why was she so anxious to get rid of the tweet? Because she knew she was going to be in trouble. So instead of trying anything at all to de-escalate, she threatens to call the police, in order to COVER HER OWN ASS.

  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @10:41PM (#47528043)

    Don't lie.

    You'll pick the most convenient time or cheapest price, regardless of the airline company.

  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:15PM (#47528233)

    Kimberly did not volunteer the information for internet signage. Harassment.

    Nor do businesses and people reported to the better business bureau, angie's list, amazon.com, ebay and similar rating services. While the tweet seems harsh based on the given information, the father didn't do anything but report tweet her name that was visible on her publicly displayed name badge. Airlines, just like stores, have employees where such badges so the public knows who has done them wrong or right and can report to management the actions.

    While the tweet seems harsh given the limited information presented and probably foolish, it isn't harassment. Likewise, over-reacting to an airline employee normally will get you removed from a plane and possibly arrested, so he should be happy that he was only delayed in his trip.

  • by fluffy99 ( 870997 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:25PM (#47528289)

    I would fire the agent for starters, and whoever was involved.

    The gate agent was correct in telling him he could move back in the line to join his kids, but they couldn't cut in line and move up to join him. That's the policy and they tell you this when asking you to line up. The guy was in the wrong and then whined on twitter about how they didn't bend over to kiss his ass. His tweet naming the person could be construed as harassment or slander.

    Pulling him off the plane was a poor reaction, even if the intent was just to just to ask him to delete the tweet or at least revise it to delete the persons name. I suspect the agent threatened to call security and have him removed because he continued to be an ass, but that would be a one-sided opinion just like the guy claiming they were rude and threatened him.

  • Twitter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eyezen ( 548114 ) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:40PM (#47528365)
    So someone at swa is monitoring @swa mentions in realtime actively looking for disparaging tweets and also with a passenger list AND their twitter handle and when said tweets come in has the authority to hotline a gate to hold a plane based on said tweet alone? i mean how else did this plane not already take off? I just dont get the whole timing - good to know i can ground some random plane in california from my couch in missouri
  • Re:What?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Megol ( 3135005 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:43AM (#47528611)

    No rights were violated unless Southwest Airlines recently became government owned.

    Also observe that nobody stopped the man in question from tweeting anything, it's just that the airline after reading the tweet decided it didn't want to transport this person. And that is fully legal.

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @01:07AM (#47528709)

    she - like all the rest of the flying waitresses - are power-drunk. they have been grated too much ability to fuck us over, they enjoy it! its our fault for allowing it - and their fault for, well, being power-drunk and out of control.

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @01:12AM (#47528725)

    "that's the policy."

    yeah, we're robots with no brains. we follow orders. don't question stupid rules and never use human judgement. we are humans, but we should be thought of as cattle.

    yup, I fully agree.

    we should do what we are told and stop thinking. yup, I fully agree. that's pure wisdom. we need more people like you and me. world would be a lot better if we all just shut up and do as we're told.


  • Re:What?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:07AM (#47528949) Homepage Journal

    And that is fully legal.


    I seriously doubt their soliciting for getting people to fly with them includes notification of that "if you think we're rude then we will not fly you and just take your money".

    I mean, think about it. He paid for a service to be transported and they cancelled that contract based on that he tweeted the one person being rude. Why do you think that would be a legal way of doing things? taking money and not delivering their end of the contract? you also think it's legal for them to just sell tickets and then not fly at all?

    Now do you think it would be legal for best buy to come to your house and take your tv away because you stated publicly that the salesman was an ass who tried to rudely pressure you into buying extended warranty? fuck no.

    and why do you think they back pedaled? because what they did was "normal"? fuck no it wasn't. the criticized person was just using the powers he had for ANOTHER PURPOSE(purpose of keeping the plane safe) to make him delete the tweet that could negatively affect her career.

    so next up - when you complain that comcast is a bunch of fuckers online you think it's also legal for them to cancel your internet.... with that kind of attitudes no wonder americans are corporate bitches getting bled dry into debt.

  • by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:27AM (#47529015)

    Actually not really. Imaging you are a family of 4. Mum is leading the two kids and dad is carrying all the bags looking a bit like a stressed donkey. Try as dad might I can guarantee you that some of the seats are going to get whacked by those bags as you go down those incredibly narrow aisles. Now your choice. Would you rather the chair get hit with the bag or your face get hit by the bag. It's not on purpose and god knows parents will do everything (including drugging their kids) to not have them impact others but sometimes it will impact other people. You will only understand this when you have kids yourself.

  • Re:What?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by easyTree ( 1042254 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:40AM (#47529067)

    Have the police now become nothing more than an enforcement organization? Will they attend and enforce the will of whoever calls them first? Does it need to be a business? Is there a membership fee?

    Isn't there any remnant of the idea that they are there to enforce....*the law* ? If so, what was the crime which required a their presence?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:58AM (#47529141)

    Doubtful. More plausible is that the guy bragged to the flight attendand that he sent the tweet.

  • Re:What?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DamnOregonian ( 963763 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @03:33AM (#47529265)
    I think you should stop conflating "shit that i think is mean and bad for businesses to do" with "illegal". It makes you look stupid.
    The guy can most definitely file a tort suit against the airline. But are you actually proposing that a carrier of human cargo not be allowed to refuse service?
  • Re:What?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by countach ( 534280 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @03:53AM (#47529329)

    If he'd claimed to be kicked off because he was black/white/gay or whatever, there'd be outrage. But because he was only exercising his free speech rights, people don't care that much.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2014 @05:45AM (#47529583)

    Lol. You realize women get helped out because men want to get into their pants right? Even if it means just a 0.0001% chance, that's still more than 0% so men play the lottery.
    Its just that women are biologically conditioned not to realize that - instead they think guys are being "sweet" and "kind."
    If they did recognize it for what it was, they would be so creeped out that they would never talk to a guy again and that would be the end of the human race in one generation.

    It isn't a privilege, it just looks like one to someone who can't see the big picture.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2014 @06:12AM (#47529637)

    > the men are treated badly, and almost never anyone says a word.

    When you have more money, more power, get served at restaurants faster, and are physically stronger, it's often petty to complain too much. Unless mommy forgets to open up the oreos when she brings you your mid Call of Duty snack before she goes to bed.....

    Hint: most men who "get treated badly" are just looking for an excuse to whinge, and suffer *nothing* like the constant abuse and harassment the other side gets. No, feminism did not "win", they're still having the fight every day. And I speak as one of the privileged white boys who helps the women in the tech field around me get treated with equal respect.

    Besides, the chicks like it when I do that. I love being casually manly, rather than casually rude, and taking them away from boys like you.

  • Re:What?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @08:38AM (#47530095)

    No rights were violated unless Southwest Airlines recently became government owned.

    Also observe that nobody stopped the man in question from tweeting anything, it's just that the airline after reading the tweet decided it didn't want to transport this person. And that is fully legal.

    Actually, you're right...up to the point where the police might get involved. Also, the power that flight attendants and gate agents have (which is backed by the FAA, whereby refusal to comply with their orders is a felony...I kid you not) also crosses the line between private entity/government. Since Kimberly *cough* fucking cunt *cough* had that power backing her up, I would say this does indeed become a First Amendment situation.

  • Re:What?!? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @09:24AM (#47530465) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, way to go Kimberly, you got petty revenge on people paying your employer, costing your company a small fortune in payoffs, and still likely losing them dozens of long-term customers, and almost certainly getting fired.

    Good job, Kimberly!

  • Taxicabs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @10:09AM (#47530901) Journal

    But are you actually proposing that a carrier of human cargo not be allowed to refuse service?

    The idea isn't nearly as absurd as you make it sound. Regulated taxicabs in many cities are not allowed to refuse service - they must pick you up and take you where you want to go.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.