Southwest Airlines flight attendant kicks off couple from airplane

u/pandabatron/Reddit Phillip B. Espinasse/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘You guys are jeopardizing the safety of this aircraft’: Viewers defend Southwest Airlines flight attendant for kicking couple off of airplane

'Kudos to the flight attendant.'


Braden Bjella


Posted on Jul 2, 2023

A video showing a couple being kicked off of a Southwest Airlines flight for allegedly showing signs of intoxication has gone viral and sparked discussion online.

For context, “Airlines’ contracts of carriage—the legal agreement a passenger accepts when they buy a ticket—say that passengers may not be allowed to fly if they appear ‘intoxicated or under the influence of drugs,’” writes Hannah Sampson for The Washington Post. “That means they could be kept from boarding or removed from a plane once on board.”

“It’s not just airline policy: Federal aviation regulations say that no airline may allow anyone to board a plane if the passenger appears to be intoxicated,” Sampson continues. “That can include intoxication from drugs such as marijuana, even in cities or states where they’re legal or decriminalized.”

The key detail here is appearance. If a passenger appears to be intoxicated, regardless of whether the passenger has consumed enough alcohol to consider themselves under the influence, airline staff have the right and obligation to assess a flyer’s sobriety and make a determination as to whether they should be able to fly.

“If the customer does not appear to be a danger to themselves or to anyone around them, chances are pretty good they’re not going to get stopped,” Morgan Durrant, a spokesman for Delta, told The Washington Post. “If there’s anything that looks like it can have the potential to grow into a contentious situation while the aircraft is at altitude, you always want to solve for that on the ground.”

These rules notwithstanding, the number of such incidents is increasing. 

“Globally, there was one disorderly incident reported for every 568 flights in 2022, up from one per 835 flights in 2021, the International Air Transport Association said in a statement this month,” reads an article in Fortune.

Even though airline staff is required to deal with customers who appear intoxicated, that doesn’t mean those allegedly intoxicated flyers will be quick to comply with their requests. 

Numerous incidents have gone viral in recent years showing customers being kicked off of flights for alleged intoxication. Just last month, another such video went viral, showing a woman being forcibly removed from a Southwest Airlines flight by police after the airline claimed she exhibited “disruptive and unacceptable behavior onboard.”

Now, another one of these incidents has gone viral, only this time, it was recorded from the passenger’s perspective. 

In a post on the subreddit /r/PublicFreakout that currently has over 25,000 upvotes, a video shows a couple confronting a flight attendant after they’ve been denied boarding after one of them allegedly exhibited signs of intoxication.

“You guys are jeopardizing the safety of this aircraft, so I’m threatened by both of you,” the flight attendant says. 

In response, the passenger, who is not shown, insists that they are sober. They say they want a sobriety test, and say that they were doing “cartwheels and backbends” with children while waiting for the flight.

“You need to get out of here,” the flight attendant says in response. As for a justification, the flight attendant says that the passenger was “flipping all over the ground…you’re engaging, you’re loud, you want attention from everybody.”

“All of us, the whole entire crew saw it. All of us are in agreement that you cannot come on here,” the flight attendant says. The flight attendant says they also observed the passenger drinking alcohol prior to boarding, a fact that the passenger confirms, though they claim they only had a single glass of wine.

“Do I seem intoxicated to you right now?” the passenger asks.

“Yeah, you do,” the flight attendant answers. “You aren’t following any sort of instructions that any of us are asking you to do.”

The conversation goes back and forth for a while, with the couple insisting that they should be allowed to board while the flight attendant states that they are simply following the guidelines laid out for them by the airline. The flight attendant also asks to not be recorded and says the couple requires her permission to be filmed.

The legality around this latter point is a little complicated, but Taylor Garland, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, noted that “taking pictures of crew members working is not permitted by most U.S. airlines for safety of passengers and crew as well as security of the cabin,” as quoted by The Washington Post.

The video appears to be a repost from the flyers themselves, who shared the video on YouTube on September 2022.

“The plane was late, then we had to de-board and we [were] 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,” the flyer wrote in the caption. “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 the 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.”

In the comments section of the Reddit post, users defended the actions of the flight attendant and chastised the flyer for attempting to argue their way back onto the flight.

“Never once in these videos have we EVER seen anyone talk their way out of getting kicked off the plane after they are being told to get off…It either ends in you complying or with you getting arrested,” a user wrote. “If that’s me I’m taking my L and bouncing.”

“Once the flight crew have determined that someone is a threat and wants that person off the plane, that person is going to get off the plane. It’s going to happen, whether willingly or by force,” noted another. “After all, the flight crew is not just doing it to inconvenience the belligerent person, they’re doing it to protect themselves, the equipment, and the other passengers from the potential danger that is the belligerent person.”

“Bravo! She saved all the passengers the inconvenience of having to divert the plane to land and unboard an unruly passenger,” a third stated.

“Let me convince you I’m not drunk while I’m slurring my words!” joked another commenter.

Several commenters claimed that they have boarded flights while intoxicated without issue.

“I’ve gotten on a plane drunk coming from Vegas finished my last drink right before going thru tsa,” a user recalled. “Just gotta be a calm drunk that’s all.”

“I’ve gotten on flights drunk before,” added a second. “The trick is to not be an a**, and not be sh*t faced.”

The Daily Dot reached out to the passenger via Twitter and Southwest Airlines via email.

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*First Published: Jul 2, 2023, 10:22 am CDT