A Minneapolis man and his two children were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight because of a complaint tweeted during the boarding process.
Duff Watson of New Hope, Minneapolis, is an “A-List” member of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards frequent-flier program, a status which entitles flyers to early boarding privileges. On this occasion Watson was travelling with his two children, aged nine and six, and he had assumed they would be granted the same rights.
A gate agent informed Watson that this was not the case, and that they would have to wait after priority boarding had finished to enter the aircraft. Watson says that he had been able to board early with his children in the past, but on this occasion the gate agent had “rudely and dismissively” made them wait.
“Real nice way to treat an A-List,” Watson told the agent. “I’ll be sure to tweet about it.”
And so he did.
“RUDEST AGENT IN DENVER. KIMBERLY S. GATE C39. NOT HAPPY @SWA,” Watson wrote on his Twitter profile.
Then, after he and his children were finally seated, they were paged on the plane’s PA system and told to gather their belongings and leave. Outside, Watson encountered the same agent who told him that she felt threatened that he had used her name and location in his tweeted complaint.
A supervisor was called and Watson was eventually allowed back on the plane, but only after he deleted the tweet.
“I frankly was so shaken and so upset, I just want[ed] to kind of get home,” said Watson.
In a statement, Southwest acknowledged the incident:
On Sunday, July 20, a Southwest Airlines Employee and Customer were having a conversation that escalated about the airline’s family boarding procedures. The Customer was briefly removed from flight #2347 from Denver to Minneapolis/St. Paul to resolve the conversation outside of the aircraft and away from the other Passengers. Our decision was not based solely on a Customer’s tweet. Following a successful resolution, the Customer and his family were able to continue on the flight to Minneapolis. We are thoroughly investigating the situation. We have reached out to the Customer and offered vouchers as a gesture of goodwill.
(Source: KARE 11.)