Southwest Kicks Off Woman For Being Intoxicated… But Was She?

Southwest Kicks Off Woman For Being Intoxicated… But Was She?

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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.

Bottom line

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)

Conversations (24)
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  1. Jerry Guest

    First off, she is slurring her words. Second, this couple is incapable of realizing the seriousness of the situation. They could have complied, sobered up, and taken the next flight. The flight crew recognized behavior that would have only escalated when flight crew would have denied beverage service in air. Let's look at the behavior of the couple while plane is on the ground. Then think about when they cause a disturbance in the air,...

    First off, she is slurring her words. Second, this couple is incapable of realizing the seriousness of the situation. They could have complied, sobered up, and taken the next flight. The flight crew recognized behavior that would have only escalated when flight crew would have denied beverage service in air. Let's look at the behavior of the couple while plane is on the ground. Then think about when they cause a disturbance in the air, jeopardizing 150 other passengers travel when they have to turn the plane around. We are all tired of self centered narcissistic people that have to be the center of attention. The flight crew did the right thing by allowing everyone else continue on with their travel plans uninterrupted. Thank you.

  2. Jerry Guest

    It does sound like she is slurring her words. Maybe she just has a speech impediment.

  3. Shay Guest

    The passenger is definitely slurring her words - the standard answer is always "I only had one drink". Think about that for a moment... how many times have we all heard that same story only to find out it was 3?
    The Flight Attendant actually does have the right to request not to be filmed (that's a privacy thing isn't it?) the passenger doesn't have to listen.
    Fact: Bottom line is if the...

    The passenger is definitely slurring her words - the standard answer is always "I only had one drink". Think about that for a moment... how many times have we all heard that same story only to find out it was 3?
    The Flight Attendant actually does have the right to request not to be filmed (that's a privacy thing isn't it?) the passenger doesn't have to listen.
    Fact: Bottom line is if the crew has determined it's going to be an inflight risk they have already discussed it with the Captain and he/she has authorized to not allow that passenger on the plane.

  4. ResponsibleForMyActions Guest

    Airline travel is generally a negative experience in my year, so my expectations are low, my demeanor is less than jovial, and my mouth is shut. It's too bad that my personality degrades but that's how I've been trained by the airlines and their staff over the years.

  5. Anthony Joseph Guest

    I am a Million+ mile flier on two airlines and I have experienced the issue of flight attendants wanting to deplane me and wrongly accusing me of being intoxicated. On both occassions I had 1 drink at the airport lounge but my personal rule is to NOT consume alcohol at least 1 hour before flight depature.
    In both cases, the ground services manager on duty investigated the issue and discussed with pilot and talked...

    I am a Million+ mile flier on two airlines and I have experienced the issue of flight attendants wanting to deplane me and wrongly accusing me of being intoxicated. On both occassions I had 1 drink at the airport lounge but my personal rule is to NOT consume alcohol at least 1 hour before flight depature.
    In both cases, the ground services manager on duty investigated the issue and discussed with pilot and talked to me and they overrode the flight attendant only after I agreed to downgrade to economy because the flight attendant were working first class.
    In one case, the captain waited at the door of the plane and profusely apologized to me about the incident making it very clear that the flight attendant was in the wrong.
    The abuse of authority by flight attendants is ridiculous. THere seems to be a culture that they will NOT change their erroneous decisions even if the captain disagrees with them. So much for flight attendant unions.

  6. Mary Summers Guest

    That flight attendant sounds like a Karen.

  7. mauipeter Guest

    Flight attendants can be such morons. A few years back I flew Business Maui to LAX. I had had an extremely physically hard week, and last day at work.. So I rush to the airport and finally sit down in 2A, finally heading for that annual 1 month vacation with friends in Europe, and when asked, I order a gin tonic, my usual in flight drink. And that old way beyond retirement FA lady tells...

    Flight attendants can be such morons. A few years back I flew Business Maui to LAX. I had had an extremely physically hard week, and last day at work.. So I rush to the airport and finally sit down in 2A, finally heading for that annual 1 month vacation with friends in Europe, and when asked, I order a gin tonic, my usual in flight drink. And that old way beyond retirement FA lady tells me:'This is the only one you get on this flight.' I observed you the way you walked in here.' Sorry, for busting my ass for 11 month to have that one reward, and being exhausted, and not being wasted at all, which is merely your projection. Maybe try some real work instead of doing cross word puzzles, after serving me one drink.

  8. Lisa Guest

    I'd fire the flight attendant

  9. Wilo Guest

    Only in the USA…
    But I loved how the FA kept smiling while telling the passenger off!

    1. Mh Diamond

      Cause she knew she had the power. And had no accountability.

  10. Isabeldear New Member

    A little surprised at the ready use of a bigoted term for women in a couple of these comments--pretty offputting. But back to the story--maybe gate agents should use a breathalyzer--it could rein in what might have happened here--an arbitrary and capricious use of power accompanied by made-up rules to deny a paying and reasonably sober customer passage. If she were actually drunk, then the breathalyzer would tell.

  11. David Guest

    Outstanding example of flight attendants abusing the (ridiculous amount of) power that they have somehow been granted.
    Hopefully, this one will be terminated for her refusal to approach the situation in an equitable and judicious manner.

  12. BAB Guest

    I agree. The tone of the flight attendant was too condescending and in fact could be considered smug. She came across as enjoying the process of denying entry to this passenger. If the passenger was "drunk" she would be less coherent, more belligerent and possibly more offensive in her responses. The passenger was not and in fact was very calm and provided rational responses. It was the flight attendant that responded with inconsistencies. She enjoyed...

    I agree. The tone of the flight attendant was too condescending and in fact could be considered smug. She came across as enjoying the process of denying entry to this passenger. If the passenger was "drunk" she would be less coherent, more belligerent and possibly more offensive in her responses. The passenger was not and in fact was very calm and provided rational responses. It was the flight attendant that responded with inconsistencies. She enjoyed her few seconds of power grab.

    1. Robert D Guest

      Who drinks wine in the gate area? Is that even allowed? The passenger actually does sound like she’s slurring to me.

    2. Mh Diamond

      Some US terminals have bars right beside the gates. It's usually no big deal.

      As for the slurring, the flight attendant also sounds like that. Just their accent.

  13. Endre Guest

    The Tale of Two Karens

  14. Ryan Guest

    If she sticks the landing she's sober enough to fly. That's already more than necessary for a sobriety test.

    In fact, I say it should be required for all passengers to do a cartwheel preflight to prove their sobriety. Pending a note from the doctor for those physically incapable. Without cartwheels how will we really know who is sober and who is not?!

  15. TravelinWilly Diamond

    If the woman filming this confrontation had been any color other than white, I hate to think how she would have been further (mis)treated.

    1. Klaus Guest

      Even if this is a very unobjective comment, I wanted to write the same thing. With her half-closed eyes, the flight attendant doesn't exactly look sober either.

  16. Sel, D. Guest

    Take another listen, sure sounds like the drunk lady is slurring her words. Dumb gate agent and FA for sure too, this shouldn't have happened. FA should have sent them back right away.

    1. Maryland Guest

      Ugh. I had video playing whilst reading the post. Without the visual it sounds like there is something equally wrong with both. Maybe security should have alcohol breath checks with acceptable limits. Settled at gate. Agree with drama of two karens.

  17. Alonzo Diamond

    Lmao, who cares. Just another Karen bitching about someone violating their rights. Stfu lady

    1. Jerry Guest

      Totally! White women are the worst! Who cares about rights? Why should we have any in the first place ?! What a Karen!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

BAB Guest

I agree. The tone of the flight attendant was too condescending and in fact could be considered smug. She came across as enjoying the process of denying entry to this passenger. If the passenger was "drunk" she would be less coherent, more belligerent and possibly more offensive in her responses. The passenger was not and in fact was very calm and provided rational responses. It was the flight attendant that responded with inconsistencies. She enjoyed her few seconds of power grab.

3
David Guest

Outstanding example of flight attendants abusing the (ridiculous amount of) power that they have somehow been granted. Hopefully, this one will be terminated for her refusal to approach the situation in an equitable and judicious manner.

2
TravelinWilly Diamond

If the woman filming this confrontation had been any color other than white, I hate to think how she would have been further (mis)treated.

2
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