If you’ve travelled with Southwest Airlines over the last few weeks then you may have noticed an interesting change to the usual announcements that flight attendants make before departure. In addition to the usual safety instructions, Southwest’s flight attendants now urge passengers to report any “unwelcome behavior” to the onboard crew.
“We are here for your comfort and safety. Please report any unwelcome behavior to your flight attendant. Thank you for your attention.”Southwest’s new pre-departure onboard announcement
A Southwest spokesperson confirmed the new announcement has been rolled out system-wide, explaining that it demonstrates the airline’s “commitment to ensuring a safe and welcoming environment at all times”.
The airline said that flight attendants have received additional training in how to deal with any reports of unwelcome behavior, including reseating passengers, notifying law-enforcement and seeking advice from the Captain.
The change follows what the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) has dubbed the #MeToo movement for airlines. The union has urged carriers to do much more to combat sexual harassment and assault onboard planes following a series of in-flight incidents.
In the last few weeks, two women filed a lawsuit against Frontier Airlines alleging flight attendants refused to help when they reported two separate sexual assaults. The lawsuit claims crew at the airline have received inadequate training in how to deal with such serious incidents.
In 2018, Southwest faced criticism after a female passenger’s Tweets about “unwelcome behavior” on a flight went viral. Elly Shariat claimed a man sat next to her had been watching porn on an iPad set up on his tray table with the sound on, while visibly masturbating.
Shariat Tweeted to Southwest’s social media team in-flight and claimed there was no way flight attendants couldn’t have been aware of what was going on.
In the last week, United Airlines confirmed it was introducing additional training for flight attendants to deal with sexual harassment, including the growing issue of passengers watching porn in full view of their seatmates.
Alaska Airlines introduced a similar pre-departure announcement to Southwest’s in 2017, although other prominent U.S.-based airlines haven’t followed suit.
Southwest also recently updated its internal policy concerning harassment and discrimination. The policy prohibits “any and all types of harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation against Employees by Leaders, fellow Employees, or third parties”.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.