Man forced off plane for complaining about ticket agent on social media

MINNEAPOLIS — An A-list Southwest Airlines passenger says he’ll never fly Southwest again after he says he was kicked off a flight for using social media to complain about a boarding agent.

“I was left very upset, very embarrassed, very humiliated,” said Duff Watson.

Watson said he tried to board a Southwest Airlines flight with his kids. As an A-list passenger, he gets priority boarding,  but a gate agent wouldn’t let his six and 9-year-old kids board with him; which meant they would all have to wait to board later.

“In leaving I said, real nice way to treat an A-List, I’ll be sure to tweet about it,” Watson said.

And he did.

“Something to the effect of wow, rudest agent in Denver. Kimberly S, gate C39, not happy, @swa,” Watson said about the tweet that he claims he was told to delete.

Soon after getting to their seats, the family of three was asked to de-plane.

“She said her safety feels threatened because of what I tweeted,” Watson said.

“She said ‘I’m going to call the cops,’” Watson’s daughter Lucy said. “I thought something bad was going to happen, like my dad was going to jail.”

“And that’s when my children started crying,” he said.

Watson says he doesn’t understand why his family was targeted.

“There was no use of profanity, there were no threats made, nothing other than you know a terse exchange between a customer service agent and a customer,” he said.

Watson also said he was forced to delete the tweet. “She said you can’t board the plane unless you delete that tweet.”

Southwest Airlines sent this statement, saying: A customer was removed for a short time and continued on to Minneapolis. And the incident is currently under review. Southwest apologized in an email to Watson and sent three $50 vouchers.

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17 comments

    • Janis

      since he is A-list, he should know the rules. I’ve seen the kind so many times as an A-List Preferred passenger, there’s always someone who thinks they are more important than everyone else and the rules do not apply to them, he SHOULD have boarded with the same group his kids were boarding in and not made a stink. He just didn’t want to give up the opportunity to choose his preferred seat, Glad he won’t be flying with Southwest anymore myself, I’m tired of dealing with his kind.

      • John P

        Exactly! I’m so tired of people feeling they are so entitled and rules don’t apply to them. Pay the extra money for your kids you big A lister. Freaking dope.

    • tim

      SW does’n have assigned seating you can check in 24 hour in advance and get an a b or c pass which he should have done. You are then called up to board in order a b c My guessis he has a business or his business flies him around a lot hence the A-oass and he’s not used to waiting in line like the rest of us .If he’d just checked in and boarded with his kids there would not have been a problem at all.

      • Christopher

        Even if he should’ve waited to board with his kids, the ticket agent shouldn’t have acted the way she did and force him to go against his first amendment rights. He believed she was rude, and tweeted so, and if it shows that he didn’t convey anything that can be construed as a threat, than she deserved a long unpaid suspension, at the very least.

      • Alex

        @Christopher I agree with what you are saying….but ONE clarification…he actually does not have a First Amendment right here. Southwest is a private company, the First Amendment only protects our speech from our government. Southwest can censor his speech as it likes. However, at its peril!!! So now it’s up to us to voice our displeasure with SW.

  • Mack

    I fly SWA almost exclusively and have experienced the same thing. I frequently get in the A1 – A20 boarding group and am an A+ Rewards member. This is earned through lots of flights and spending lots of money. When traveling with nieces or nephews they don’t usually get in the same boarding group; it’s often in the B or C group depending on when or what time they check in for the flight (not always in my control). It used to be that most of the time the gate agent allowed the kids to board with me even though they are in a different group. When not, I have argued (unsuccessfully) that boarding with the kids group penalizes me. I believe their current policy is to allow the parent/guardian to board with the kids at the end of the A group line (after A60) before the B group. Since there is a lot of confusion I think SWA should clarify and be consistent
    .

  • Cindy

    Who in the heck cares if someone’s child(ren) board the plane with them!? No one. I don’t see people complaining about the people who get priority boarding because they have small children. I’ve had my fair share of encounters with rude ticket agents and I’m sorry but just because they work for the airline doesn’t give them authority to be rude and treat passengers like they’re animals or idiots.

  • Brian K Mitchell

    what happened to the American way “free speech”. This totalitarian police state we live in must be defeated. Get in an argument with your girlfriend.. the police come. Complain about shitty service and they call the police on you. EXACTLY what law did this man break?

  • Shirley

    I’ll be sure and NOT FLY SW. That’s just silly. Why should anyone be expected to leave their kids standing alone in an airport for heavens sake, that’s not the way to treat customers.

  • jewelrymkr

    I’m boarding a SW flight here in about 5 hours. It will be my return flight. On the flight here (SeaTac) I was treated with kindness and respect. I was taken via wheelchair to the plane because I have difficulty walking long distances. During the flight we were all treated well. I’m sure this guy was agitated and being an A-list customer dies not give you the right to be rude to the airline employees. Generally people who treat other people with respect get respect in return…