Mpls man removed from flight after he disses gate agent by name on Twitter

Watson (left), a formerly loyal Southwest customer, says he's done with the airline as a result of how he was treated.

Watson (left), a formerly loyal Southwest customer, says he's done with the airline as a result of how he was treated.

Just after 5 p.m. Sunday, Southwest Airlines "A-Lister" Duff Watson tried to use his status to priority board his flight back home to Minneapolis with his two young children. He says he's done this in the past and it hasn't been an issue.

But in the case, the gate agent, a woman named "Kimberly S," told him he'd have to wait. Watson tells us he was "literally taken aback, because I travel a lot with my kids and have done that before," but his next thought was, "Oh well."

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But Kimberly's response escalated the situation, at least according to Watson's version of events.

When he informed her he'd been allowed to board early with his kids on previous Southwest flights, "Her response was, 'Well, we can stand here and argue all day, but I gotta board A passengers,'" Watson says.

An email Watson subsequently sent to Southwest explains what he says happened next:
She called for the B group, and we approached the podium and she collected our boarding cards, and as I am about to walk down the jet way ramp, I ask what her name is. (I could read her first name on her badge already. Could not make out the spelling of her last name.) She told me that she didn't have to give out her last name, and I said in effect, "No problem, I'll be sure to tweet about your rude attitude anyway," and something along the lines of, "nice way to treat A-list."
Though he threatened to put Kimberly on blast on Twitter, Watson tells us at no time did he swear at her or act inappropriately.

In any event, with those unpleasantries in the past, Watson and his kids boarded the plane, where, as promised, he tweeted about Kimberly. Though he later deleted it -- we'll get to why in a second -- somebody later got in touch with him and sent a screengrab showing another tweet that quoted him:

Before the plane moved anywhere, Watson was summoned off of it. Another excerpt from his email explains what happened next:
I gather my two kids and our three carry-ons from under the seat and the small suitcase we had as a carry-on in the overhead bin and make our way to just outside the aircraft door. Kimberly S. was there, and in a terse voice told me that "her safety was threatened since I asked for her last name."

She then stated something to the effect that she was "going to call the police" and that I had no right to use her name in social media.

Call the police? Are you kidding? At this point my kids both started to cry. My daughter asked if we were going to jail.
Adding to the absurdity, in a separate tweet published an hour earlier, Watson praised Southwest.

(For more, click to page two.)

"Minutes earlier I was complimentary about Southwest, so it's not like I have an ax to grind," Watson says. "And it's not like I'm doing something illicit to get her name. I'm sorry, when you're wearing a name tag in a public facility, that's not privacy. I'm not digging around in her trash can at home."

Nonetheless, Watson did as he was told and deleted the tweet. He was then allowed to re-board the plane with his kids.

After Watson sent his email to Southwest complaining about the incident, the company compensated him with a $50 travel voucher, he says. But he wants more.

"Here's what I want but I'm not gonna get: I want an apology in some form, just an 'I'm sorry' for the benefit of my two kids who were made to cry by an agent's threat to call the cops," Watson says. "Southwest's response was not appropriate given the level of discomfort we experienced as a result of having to leave the plane."

We contacted Southwest for comment. They sent us the following statement.

"On Sunday, July 20, a Customer was removed for a short time from flight #2347 from Denver to Minneapolis," it says. "He later continued on flight #2347 to Minneapolis. The incident is currently under review."

To read the entirety of Watson's email for yourself, click to page three.


Watson SWA Email

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.