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Southwest Seems to LUV Kicking Off Passengers (3rd Celeb in less than 2years)

Kevin Smith's favorite airline

Image by gr1fter via Flickr

What’s the deal with all the misunderstandings between Southwest Airlines and their passengers? Do they understand that the more often they because known as the airline that kicks people off flights left and right, the more of a bad reputation they get??

Within the past two years there’s been a ridiculously public amount of people getting the boot before take off into the friendly skies. Celebrity wise, Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong was escorted off for wearing baggy pants, Kevin Smith was asked to de-board because was taking up too much seat room, and now actress Leisha Haliey was told in more than a few words that her same-sex kiss with her girlfriend, was not going to fly….

Leisha Hailey took to Twitter to say that the company escorted her and her girlfriend off a plane after the two were seen kissing on board.

Hailey, who’s also a member of the band Uh Huh Her, posted on the group’s Twitter feed about the incident: “So we’ve joined the ranks alongside @BJAofficial and @ThatKevinSmith for being kicked off an @SouthwestAir flight, this time for being gay.”

She goes on to say that she and her girlfriend were kissing when a flight attendant told them it was a family airline, and asked them to stop.

Southwest issued a statement on their website:

Initial reports indicate that we received several passenger complaints characterizing the behavior as excessive. Our crew, responsible for the comfort of all Customers on board, approached the passengers based solely on behavior and not gender. The conversation escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground, as opposed to in flight. We regret any circumstance where a passenger does not have a positive experience on Southwest and we are ready to work directly with the passengers involved to offer our heartfelt apologies for falling short of their expectation.

So next time you don’t like something you see in the real world—like baggy pants, overweight people, and homosexuals, instead of accepting the fact that everyone in the world doesn’t cater to your visual preferences; just board a Southwest flight and get a little piece of vindication and ask removal of anything you don’t want to see. Their flight attendants are all too happy to fulfill your requests!

Let’s review some of their more notorious flight removal instances.

*In 2007 the airline asked a 23-year-old college student to leave a flight because she was wearing a short skirt and fitted top that violated their (later admitted non-existent) dress code.

*In 2009, two sisters flying to visit their heart attack stricken father were allegedly kicked off their flight after one began to cry. Ricci Wheatley and Robin Opperman were on a Dallas-bound flight from Oakland, when Wheatley became anxious because she is afraid of flying.

“I broke down and started to cry and I’m a little bit afraid to fly, so I said to the stewardess as she was passing, ‘When you’re going to be serving, I’ll have a glass of wine,’ Wheatley told ABC 7 San Francisco.

The flight attendant told Wheatley she’d had enough, even though Wheatley hadn’t had any wine on the plane. After the “misunderstanding” with the flight attendant, the sisters say they were removed from the flight.

*Later that same year Southwest Airlines issued an apology to a mother they kicked off whom they claimed had a very unruly 2-year-old. The crew bounced the mother and son off the San Jose-bound flight because passengers could not hear preflight safety announcements over the child’s screams of “Go! Plane! Go!” and “I want Daddy!”

*Not to be outdone (by themselves), in 2010 there was an incident involving a skinny woman being bumped from her flight to allow two seats for an overweight teen flyer.

 “The passenger in question was a minor who was traveling alone,” said Southwest Airlines spokesman Paul Flannigan of the 14-year-old teen. “Normally if the passenger were an adult, he or she would be required to purchase an extra ticket, but we did not want to leave the 14-year-old stranded.”

*Back to 2011, 31-year-old graduate student Irum Abbasi was flagged by a flight attendant as “suspicious”. Abbasi, a US citizen who was born in Pakistan, was on the phone with Verizon shortly after boarding the Southwest flight. As is regulation, she had to get off the phone before the airplane could take off. So she told the Verizon agent, “I’ve got to go.”

A Southwest Airline crew member thought the headscarf-clad Abbasi had said, “It’s a go” and suspected there might be a terrorist plot afoot. Why she thought a terrorist who wanted to keep her plans secret would give the “go” signal in English for everyone to hear is a mystery. And I don’t know if the phrase “It’s a go” would have been seen as terrorist lingo if it came from someone who didn’t have an accent or wasn’t obviously Muslim. But regardless, the flight attendant was sufficiently freaked out that the captains of the plane heeded her judgment call and ordered Abbasi taken off the flight. After talking with TSA agents and having her headscarf patted down, Abbasi was cleared to board the next flight. She was later given two apology from the airline and a travel voucher.

But she has still not been able to remove her name from terrorist watchlists.

Southwest spokesperson Chris Mainz said, “We treat all our customers the same and we think all of our employees do a very good job of that.”

You can it “treating all your customers the same”, everyone else with call it discrimination, uncalled for, silly, and wait—what, did that really just happen?  Thanks Southwest, we LUV you too.

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About maggie.

Maggie Barnes is a nonprofit and for profit business content specialist / social media consultant; and social sciences web writer interested in everything from psychology and sexuality, to technology, race, and economics. She is passionate about good communication and information accessibility.

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