A man named Duff Watson nearly got himself and his two young sons (ages 6 and 9) thrown off of a Southwest Airlines
flight out of Denver over an angry Tweet. He was upset that the gate agent wouldn’t let his kids board early with him even though he had priority status and posted on Twitter
, “RUDEST AGENT IN DENVER. KIMBERLY S. GATE C39. NOT HAPPY @SWA” according to Reuters
The crew then pulled him off of the plane and made him delete the post before letting him back on, even threatening to call the police unless he complied. He relented, deleted the Tweet, and flew on to Minneapolis.
Obviously, there are pieces of the story missing here. For example, how would Kimberly S. have known about the Tweet? Watson probably told her he was going to do it, and probably not in a kind way--and of course, she or one of her coworkers must have taken time to look up his Twitter account and see it, which strikes me as a breach of protocol. One wonders what other words were exchanged during the incident.
Still, forcing a passenger to take down a mean Tweet “or else” is completely unacceptable. If he’s belligerent enough to be removed from the flight, fine, put him in airport jail (or whatever happens to you when you get in trouble at an airport), but forcing him to remove a comment he made on social media is not within the bounds of anyone’s authority.
Watson, though, probably should have known better. If there’s one place you can’t do much to demand better service or throw a fit to get what you want, it’s the airport. For one thing, airports are touchy about volatile people and air travel, and for another, they just really don’t care much that you missed your connection, had to wait too long to board, had to spend the night sleeping on the floor in the terminal, or whatever other injustice you’ve suffered.
It’s not that they’re heartless people, it’s just that the above is the kind of stuff that happens all the time, and there’s little anyone within shouting distance can do about it.
Ironically, barely a few people would have seen the angry Tweet (even now, he only has 412 followers
) had the gate attendant not demanded that he delete his post, but now millions have read that Kimberly S. of Denver is (allegedly) a total jerk, she’s presumably had an uncomfortable meeting with her manager, and Southwest Airlines’ name has been dragged through the mud.