SFGate, San Francisco
After a confusing few weeks in which Southwest Airlines struggled to adequately explain significant flight disruptions, the airline is again facing questions about the political leanings of its pilots and flight crew.
The airline announced Sunday it is now investigating the most recent incident.
” Southwest does not condone Employees sharing their personal political opinions while on the job serving our Customers, and one Employee’s individual perspective should not be interpreted as the viewpoint of Southwest and its collective 54,000 Employees,” the statement said.
On Friday morning, a Southwest pilot on a flight from Houston to Albuquerque reportedly signed off over the intercom using a coded insult against President Biden. The phrase, which was amplified through the cabin, is a well-established chant among supporters of former president Donald Trump: “Let’s Go Brandon!” It’s used as a G-rated stand-in for “f— Joe Biden.” The insult has become so widespread that it has even been used on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The incident comes on the heels of a wave of cancelations and delays earlier in the month that were widely rumored to stem from pilot discontent over the airline’s COVID vaccine mandate. At the same time, an unverified image of a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag hanging from the cockpit of a Southwest airplane went viral on Twitter.
While the rumors of a pilot “sick out” were ultimately disproved, the ongoing news of Southwest pilots’ organized objections to COVID vaccination mandates has lead some on social media to tag the carrier #MagaAirlines. Others are calling for the airline to fire the pilot who took his political passions to his plane’s public safety address system in Friday’s incident.
And some prominent Twitter users, like the Bay Area based novel Ayelet Waldman, have said they’ll no longer fly the airline.
Among the largest carriers in the country, Southwest has long been among the highest-rated airlines in the country. But these recent controversies have drawn the company into the culture wars around the COVID pandemic and the political tensions that have divided the country.
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