Duff Watson, SWA owes you an apology. The Minnesota father of two young girls was booted off his Southwest flight – deplaned as the industry says – after an officious gate agent got her red and blue outfit all twisted up over the dad’s complaining tweet.
Writes ABC News on July 23: Duff Watson “said he and his two children were kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight after the father tweeted about a ‘rude’ gate agent who refused to give his kids priority boarding. The incident happened on Sunday afternoon when Watson was traveling with his two daughters, ages 9 and 6, from Denver to Minneapolis.”
Incredulously, the agent refused to let Watson back on the plane until she watched him delete the tweet. Talk about an infringement on freedom of speech, not to mention a contravention of a thing called common decency, along with a little common sense.
The 41-year-old father says he and his two girls were budged out of their seat and told to leave the jet. The agent actually threatened to call airport security if Watson didn’t get off the plane. The dad said his girls started to cry.
“I’m worried about the fact that I was asked to leave an airliner because of the content of a tweet,” Watson later said in an understatement. He never thought his tweet would cause such social turbulence.
The issue started last weekend when Watson, a preferred “A-List” boarder, attempted to get on the flight early, when called, with his two young girls. Watson says even though his girls are not A-listers like him, previous gate agents have always let them board with him.
ABC News picks up the story:
When the gate agent told Watson she can’t let his children board with him, Watson said he asked the agent: “Is this a new policy?”
Watson said the agent didn’t answer his question directly, but told him: “I am not going to change my mind.”
The gate agent allegedly asked Watson and his two children to step aside and wait until the rest of the A-list members board.
“We waited, which was fine,” Watson said. “I thought she was very rude and wanted to complain to customer service, so I asked her: ‘Can I get your last name?’”
“She told me: ‘You don’t need my last name for anything,’” Watson said. “I told her: ‘Real nice way to treat an A-list member.’”
“I tweeted something like, ‘Wow, rudest agent in Denver. Kimberly S, gate C39, not happy @SWA,’” he said.
“I’m not trying to be entitled or pushy. It’s not about the policy,” Watson said. “It’s that she was super rude and dismissive toward us.”
So like many ticked-off consumers, Watson fired off some frustrations on Twitter, tweeting out the agent’s name and gate number, and calling her the “rudest agent at Southwest Airlines.”
After settling in, flight attendants were told to announce on the flight’s overhead speaker system that Watson and his children were to immediately gather up their belongings and get off the plane.
“We met the gate agent who was very worked up and she says because I’m using her name in social media, that I am a threat. And that’s why I’m being asked to leave,” Watson said. “Then she said, ‘You need to delete that tweet or I’m calling the cops.’”
Watson complied, because he needed to get home and did not want to scare his girls any more than they were, but he certainly was not going to let the incident fly.
“At no point did I use profanity or threats. It wasn’t offensive content, it was me complaining about how I was treated,” Watson said.
Southwest has since reached out to Watson and given him his apology, and is attempting to cover up the PR nightmare with a pair of $50 vouchers. The A-lister says it’s not about the money. He’s done with Southwest.
“I don’t really care to fly Southwest again,” Watson said. “I really care about my integrity and the fact that my kids were put through this.”