Public relations aren't the strong point of most airlines, but Southwest took it to an entirely new level recently after a tense incident between a passenger and a rude Southwest gate agent -- which led to hostilities, thinly veiled threats, and forcibly deleted tweets.
A Minnesota man and his two children, ages six and 9, were preparing to board a return flight from Denver to Minneapolis when a gate agent stopped him. The man was in A-class priority boarding, which would allow him to get on the plane before other passengers, but his two small children didn't -- so when they attempted to board the plane with their father, a gate attendant stopped them.
According to Duff Watson, the father involved in the incident, the gate agent accosted him and informed him that since his two children didn't have priority boarding, they'd all have to board together later. Details are sparse about how exactly the incident transpired, but Watson says there were "no threats made and no profanity used." Following the incident, Watson took to Twitter to complain about his experience with Southwest.
“In leaving I said, you know, ‘Real nice way to treat an A-list. I’ll be sure to tweet about it,’” Watson said in an interview with a reporter from WCCO Minneapolis. “Something to the effect of, ‘Wow, rudest agent in Denver. Kimberly S, gate C39, not happy @SWA.’” Watson boarded later with his children as per the agent's request, but soon after getting to his seat he was approached and asked to leave the plane. The gate agent reportedly said that her "safety felt threatened" by the tweet and "threatened to call the cops," and that the family would not be allowed to fly on the plane unless Watson deleted the tweet -- which he did.
Soon after, he reached out to Southwest Airlines again via Twitter, and they emailed him an apology and $150 in flight vouchers -- which isn't enough to cover even a single ticket on Southwest from Denver to Minneapolis, let alone three. And while his initial tweet was forcibly deleted, Watson was sure to express his displeasure via further tweets.
There's no word on whether Southwest will take action against the gate attendant who forced him to delete the tweet, but Watson says he will never fly the airline again regardless.
Update: Moments after posting this story, Duff Watson has set his Twitter account to 'protected', meaning that only approved followers can see his tweets and user profile
Source: WCCO Minnesota | Image via Twitter