A family kicked off a plane was the result of a disagreement going to the extreme between a passenger and the gate agent. It began when an A-list passenger of Southwest Airlines was told by a gate agent to step aside with his two children so others could board first. As an A-list passenger, Duff Watson always on the priority boarding list to get on the plane early. This time was different. He and his two daughters — ages 9 and 6 — were going from Denver to Minneapolis, where they live. The agent didn’t want his daughters to board with him.
The incident occurred Sunday afternoon, ABC News reports. Watson says:
“I am not trying to game the system. I’m not going to leave my kids alone to board. That doesn’t make sense.”
Watson asked the gate agent why his children couldn’t board with him, she didn’t answer him directly, he claims. He asked her if there was new policy and her response was:
“I am not going to change my mind.”
The disgusted passenger says he waited, which was fine with him. His issue was with how rude the agent’s customer service was. He asked the woman for her last name. He tells ABC News:
“She told me: ‘You don’t need my last name for anything. I told her: ‘Real nice way to treat an A-list member.'”
Watson took to Twitter and wrote:
“I tweeted something like, ‘Wow, rudest agent in Denver. Kimberly S, gate C39, not happy @SWA.'”
Watson then boarded with his children soon thereafter.
Unreal exp. Awaiting resp. from airline. Asked for name of rude gate agent. We board. I tweet. Kids & I pulled off unless I delete. AYKM? — Duff Watson (@DuffWatson) July 21, 2014
Once Watson and the kids were seated, he heard his name on the intercom, asking him to get off the plane.
“I didn’t know what was going on. I thought we left something or we were on the wrong flight,” he says.
A flight attendant soon approached Watson and the family was kicked off the plane. When Watson encountered the ticket agent after departing the airliner, he says:
“She [the agent] said I was a safety threat. I was shocked. There was no use of profanity, there were no threats made. How was I a safety threat?”
The agent told Watson his tweet made her feel threatened and wanted him to delete the message or she’d call the police. The passenger says he deleted the message as she watched him do it. In the middle of it all, his daughter, Lucy, was scared over what was happening. She tells 10 News:
“She said ‘I’m going to call the cops. I like thought something bad was going to happen, like my dad being in jail.”
“So we walked through the same passengers the third time,” Watson said. He insists it wasn’t the fact he and his children couldn’t board first, it was the unexplained rudeness of the agent. Southwest Airlines confirmed that Duff Watson and his daughters were kicked off the plane momentarily before boarding again. They say the incident is under review.
A Southwest representative contacted Watson, telling him A-list passengers aren’t allowed to have family members board with them in the priority group. The airlines offered the passenger a $50 voucher as a gesture, but he wants to donate it to charity.
“I’m not going to fly them again,” he said.
Watson now wishes he didn’t delete the original tweet.
“I wish I didn’t back down, I wish I didn’t delete the tweet. But under that quid pro quo situation, I did it,” Watson said.
[Image via CS Monitor]