It’s not that unusual to see people kicked off a plane or denied boarding for being intoxicated. However, this situation is a bit different.
Southwest flight attendant denies boarding to passenger
A woman named Carrie was recently kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight. She claims she wanted to make a crying child in the gate area feel better, so she did gymnastics… while also having a glass of wine. The crew found her behavior unusual, assumed she was intoxicated, and denied her boarding.
Here’s how the traveler described the situation:
The plane was late, then we had to de-board and we told it could be hours for our next plane. The group of friends my husband and I met grabbed a drink at the bar, and then continued to wait and talk to new people. Cutest little girl that just moved 10 minutes away from us in Castle Rock, CO was doing gymnastics so I tried my hand at a back bend. We laughed, it was cute, that was it. Then flight attendant wouldn’t allow me on the plane trying to say that I was ‘wasted’ – but didn’t have a good explanation. Absolutely unacceptable.
The passenger posted a 3min27sec clip on YouTube, showing her interaction with the flight attendant. It seems that she was informed in the gate area that she wouldn’t be allowed to board, but she still wanted to talk to the crew, so she was escorted to the door of the plane.
That’s where the video starts:
- The flight attendant claims “you guys are jeopardizing the safety of this aircraft right now, so I am threatened by both of you”
- The passenger says “I want a sobriety test, I am sober, I work with children, I was doing cartwheels and back bends”
- The flight attendant says “if you step any closer to me we will have problems”
- When the flight attendant is asked what behavior she saw, she says “you are flipping all over the ground, you are engaging, you are loud, you want attention from everybody”
- The flight attendant says “all of us, the whole entire crew, saw it, and all of us are in agreement that you can’t come on the plane”
- The passenger responds “you mean the cartwheels I was doing with children that I met on the flight?” and the flight attendant responds “as I was watching you drink your alcohol”
- The passenger says “like I said, I did have one glass of wine,” to which the flight attendant responds “right, and so because you’ve admitted it, I’m not going to allow you to come on this aircraft today”
- When the passenger asks the flight attendant if she appears intoxicated, the flight attendant responds “yeah you do, because you aren’t following any sort of instructions that any of us are asking you to do”
- The flight attendant says “I have guidelines that we follow in our manual, and you can actually look it up at faa.gov”
- The flight attendant then has issues with being filmed, and claims that “Federal Aviation Regulations say that you have to have my permission to film me, so I want law enforcement to deal with both of them and I want that to be deleted immediately”
You can see the video for yourself below.
My take on this Southwest incident
This isn’t your typical “totally plastered person gets kicked off flight” incident. I see both sides here.
In fairness to the flight attendant:
- At the end of the day there’s no sobriety test to get on a plane; if a passenger acts in a way that makes a flight attendant think they’re intoxicated, that’s enough to have them removed
- I can appreciate how a flight attendant might think that someone doing gymnastics in the gate area while drinking wine is probably intoxicated
- I don’t understand why the gate agent brought the passengers down to essentially “confront” the flight attendant, since nothing good was going to come of that; it’s not like the flight attendant was going to change her mind after being confronted about it
- The passenger posted the video to YouTube with the caption “SOUTHWEST Flight Attendant kicks couple off flight b/c it was overbooked – saying she’s ‘threatened'” — I highly doubt that the gate agents and flight attendants were in cahoots to kick someone off because the flight was oversold, and targeted her
In fairness to the passenger:
- It’s possible that she just had one glass of wine and wasn’t “intoxicated” (whatever that even means in the context of being an airline passenger)
- In general the issue with drunk passengers is that they can become belligerent inflight, and I don’t get the sense that this passenger or her husband were aggressive
- In my opinion the flight attendant has a condescending tone and isn’t doing a good job of deescalating the situation; she should just stop talking to the passengers, rather than engaging, but I guess she was put in the uncomfortable situation of having to confront these passengers
- It’s so frustrating when flight attendants make up laws; there’s absolutely nothing illegal about filming a flight attendant, it just violates airline policy, and that’s a very different thing (Southwest can deny you boarding for violating the carrier’s rules, but law enforcement can’t force a passenger to delete the video)
- The flight attendant’s argument isn’t consistent — for example, she claims that she’s going to deny the woman from boarding because she “admitted” she had a drink, even though she had already made that decision before
In the end this is just a reminder that the crew always has the final say, and there’s not actually a test that determines whether one is intoxicated or not — it just comes down to the crew’s perception. I see no reason to believe thew crew didn’t genuinely believe she was intoxicated, so that’s the end of the story.
A traveler was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight because the crew thought she was intoxicated. The passenger claims she was doing some gymnastics in the gate area to soothe a crying child, while the crew thought this was a sign of intoxication, since she also had a glass of wine.
This is one of the few “person kicked off flight for being intoxicated” stories that isn’t so straightforward. Ultimately I think the crew was exercising their best judgment, even if the flight attendant’s attitude and tone isn’t ideal (though she shouldn’t have even had to deal directly with these passengers).
I’m curious to hear from OMAAT readers — what’s your take on this situation?
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)