As more and more people take to the Twittersphere to air their everyday complaints, the public can become judge and jury of conflicts that arise between companies and customers. The latest scuffle was Tweeted about by a Minnesota man after having a disagreement with the gate agent of a Southwest Airlines flight. But rather than let the conflict go and allow his Tweet to reach the eyes of the general public, officials had the man removed from the plane and ordered him to delete his Tweet.
ABC News reports about the conflict that arose after frequent flyer Duff Watson attempted to board his Southwest Airlines flight with his two children ages 9 and 6. Though Watson, being an “A-list member” with Southwest, is usually allowed to board his flights early the gate agent stopped him and said his sons could not board early with him since they were not members.
After Watson let the agent know that in the past he has always been permitted to board early with his children, she let him know she would not change her mind and asked him to step aside and wait until all the other A-list members boarded first. Watson explains his version of what happened next, “We waited, which was fine. 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,’ I told her: ‘Real nice way to treat an A-list member.’”
He then boarded the plane and sent out a Tweet from his seat that he says went something like this, “Wow, rudest agent in Denver. Kimberly S, gate C39, not happy @SWA.” Soon after sending the Tweet he and his children were asked to step off the plane. Watson says he was then told to delete his Tweet or else police would be called. Watson says, “She [the agent] said I was a safety threat,” Watson said. “I was shocked. There was no use of profanity, there were no threats made. How was I a safety threat?”
In the aftermath of the situation Watson says he will not fly the airline again even though they have given him a $50 voucher as a “good-will gesture.” He also regrets deleting the original Tweet saying, “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.”
What do you think of this man’s experience with Southwest Airlines?
Do you think the airline had a right to demand that he delete his Tweet complaining about the gate agent?
The gate agent should be fired for filing false statements. The man nor his children were safety threats. What about his right to free speech. And, is it okay for the airlines to threaten him and embarrass him by removing them from the plane. The $50 voucher is a joke. He should sue for millions. I am sure he can get a copy of the tweet from the cloud somewhere.
Wow...are we turning into a communist nation where you cannot express your true, honest opinion? They were at fault and he called them out on it.
I personally do not think that his post was a threat to the flight agent at all nor should he had to remove what was posted because what he stated were facts. It seems to me that the agent was rude because anytime a customer asked for a representative last name its obviously a problem and they would like to report the agent on the conduct and rudeness and then to only give him a $50 voucher I don't blame him not to fly with that airline again.
The gate agent should be fired. He did not threaten anyone and they had no authority to make him unpost his tweet. $50 is a slap in the face.
Absolutely, the airline was at fault and it's appalling that it happened. It just goes to show you how closely big companies are following social media as an important outlet for their brand. I only hope the customer sent out a few more 'choice' tweets after he deplaned.
I think that Southwest overreacted. One of the pros and cons of social media is that experiences with companies can be published quickly, and even though a negative tweet isn't fun to get, he was very professional. There were no threats made, so I have no idea why they would threaten to call the police.
Now that much of the general public has a camera at the ready & has access to media that can't be controlled by large corporations - when the behavior of service agents doesn't match the corporate tagline or jingle - companies must be prepared to face the consequences. From the original YouTube "United, You Broke My Guitar You Should Fix It" through to last week's incredible Comcast agent badgering a consumer who wanted to cancel for 15 minutes, social media is providing truthful documentation that will help consumers make choices. The Government can also consider this info to determine if an airline, such as in this case, is mis-using 'safety threat' alarms for its own interests instead of public safety.