A Southwest Airlines pilot allegedly ended his greeting to passengers over the public address system on a flight from Houston to Albuquerque on Friday morning with the phrase: “Let’s go Brandon”.
The seemingly innocent-sounding phrase is actually code for “f**k Joe Biden” and in recent days has been chanted outside Southwest Air’s corporate headquarters in Dallas by anti-vaccine mandate protestors.
Even more controversially, the phrase has also been uttered by pilots on an air traffic control channel. An air traffic controller calls out a Southwest Air flight before several pilots used the phrase on the open frequency.
The phrase has become popular amongst some Republicans to criticize President Joe Biden’s administration and is taking on a new life to protest Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Its history can be traced back to an October 2 NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama when an NBC reporter was interviewing 28-year-old racer Brandon Brown. The crowd behind Brandon were chanting something that the reporter at first thought was “Let’s go Brandon” in support of the racer.
In fact, it soon became clear that the crowd were chanting: “F**k Joe Biden”.
Southwest Air’s pilots have been especially critical of Biden’s vaccine mandate which will require all employees of federal government contractors to be fully vaccinated by December 8.
Last week, the Southwest Airlines Pilot Association (SWAPA) lost a legal bid to block the vaccine mandate after a federal judge in Texas ruled the airline was simply following the law by requiring pilots to get vaccinated.
Employees can request a medical or religious exemption and Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly has appeared open to granting an exemption to anyone who applies for one.
Nonetheless, pilots remain outraged that the airline imposed the mandate without negotiating with their union. SWAPA continues to pursue legal action against the airline over a number of pandemic-related disputes.
Passengers, though, are less than impressed with a pilot sharing his political opinions over the public address system. On Twitter, some customers have called for a boycott of the airline, while many others are calling on Southwest to investigate the incident and discipline the pilot.
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.