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Southwest Airlines Denies Drunk Passenger Allegations!

Today, I received a letter from Southwest Airlines regarding the incident in which a drunk passenger assaulted a minor. Their response:



I am deeply disheartened to learn of the frustration and disappointment you experienced while waiting with your cousins to board their flight on July 1. I know that sending young children on a flight unaccompanied is a very stressful situation, and I am certain that encountering the Customers you mentioned did little to ease your mind.

I only encountered (1) customer.

Upon receiving your letter, I requested a report from our Burbank Service Supervisor, Neil, to gather additional information on this situation. Neil mentioned that while waiting in the preboard line, you approached and informed him of your concerns about the Customer in line.

I did not approach the Customer Service Supervisor while waiting in the preboard line. I had to take the kids out of line and speak to him at the customer service desk.

At that point, he recalled telling you that he would observe the customer as she was waiting to board.

The Customer Service Supervisor stood with his back to the gate area the whole time I spoke with him. While he may have said he would observe the passenger, he didn’t even ask for a description! So I went ahead and gave him a description anyway. When he actually did turn around, the customer was no longer in the boarding area. She was on the tarmac, waiting to board the plane.

Neil also stated that you did not mention to him that the Customer had called your cousins names or spoken inappropriately to them.

False. I verbatim told the Customer Service Supervisor that the passenger spoke inappropriately to my cousin.

He noted that he continued to watch the Customer, and while he agreed that she was a “loud” person having a good time with her friends, he did not observe her doing anything that would indicate she was intoxicated, and no other Customers shared your concerns about her.

The Customer Service Supervisor did not watch the customer, for reasons stated above. Had he observed the passenger, he would surely have noticed that 1) She was not traveling with “friends”, not even one friend. And 2) She was not loud.

While Neil did not have any reason to deny the Customer boarding, I am glad that he gave you the option to reaccommodate your cousins on an alternate flight.

Reaccommodate meant taking a flight the following day and the kids arriving at their final destination with no way of getting home, and in fact missing their parents who had additional flights the following day. Besides, I did not ASK the Customer Service Supervisor to deny the passenger boarding. I asked him to inform the flight crew of the situation so that the passenger would not try to sit next to JT and continue to criminally assault him.

We understand that these situations can be difficult and uncomfortable for the unfortunate customers who must remain in the immediate vicinity of the unruly behavior. However, our Employees, through extensive training exercises and repeated customer contact, are taught to be tactful in the process of recognizing and handling customers who they feel are intoxicated. However, please know that we must be extremely cautious (in fact, we walk a find legal line) when it comes to diagnosing intoxication.

Again, I wasn’t asking that the passenger be denied boarding. If Southwest’s training consists of anything other than doing nothing, the Customer Service Supervisor failed to utilize such training.

As you may know, this diagnosis is highly subjective and it is clear that you and our employee had different perceptions of this customer.

I perceived, saw, heard and smelled this passenger using empirical methods. The Customer Service Supervisor did none of these things.

Nevertheless, I assure you that we have policies in place to prevent situations of this nature, and I will forward a copy of your letter to the appropriate leaders for internal review and follow up.

I empirically observed no evidence of such procedures.

Thank you again for putting pen to paper and sharing your experience. Contrary to what you experienced, we make every effort to provide safe, courteous, friendly, and professional service in every phase of our operation.

The issue at hand is that no iota of effort was provided.

We certainly welcome your and your family’s business and hope you will afford us the opportunity to serve you again in the near future – under more favorable circumstances.



Jessica J. Parente

Copy to: Greg Wells, Senior Vice President of Operations; Chris Wahlenmaier, Vice President of Ground Operations; Rhonda Ramirez, Station Leader Burbank


2 Responses

  1. Have you seen today’s news on yahoo? Looks like you’re not the only one who got screwed over by southwest…

  2. […] Destruction of the Corporate Beast. After 4+ months of convincing letter-writing the Naughty Airline FINALLY admitted, in their corporate way, that they “could have done things […]

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