Southwest Airlines confirmed on Sunday afternoon that it had opened an internal investigation into allegations that a pilot used the phrase ‘Let’s go Brandon’ during a passenger announcement that was made over the public address system on a flight between Houston and Albuquerque on Friday morning.
The Dallas-based carrier has faced a fierce backlash on social media since the allegations came to light with customers demanding Southwest discipline or even sack the pilot for using the politically charged and highly emotive phrase in such a public setting.
More than 24-hours after the allegations first surfaced, Southwest acknowledged the incident for the first time on Sunday with a spokesperson saying the carrier would “address the situation directly with an Employee involved”.
The airline stopped short, however, of promising to take disciplinary action against those involved if the allegations are proved.
“The Southwest Team takes pride in providing a welcoming, comfortable, safe, and respectful environment for the millions of Customers who fly with us each year,” the airline said in the first public statement addressing the furore.
“Southwest does not condone Employees sharing their personal political opinions while on the job serving our Customers, and one Employee’s individual perspective should not be interpreted as the viewpoint of Southwest and its collective 54,000 Employees,” the statement continued.
“Southwest is conducting an internal investigation into the recently reported event and will address the situation directly with any Employee involved while continuing to remind all Employees that public expression of personal opinions while on duty is unacceptable.”
The phrase has become popular with certain sections of the Republican party as a derogatory term for President Joe Biden. ‘Let’s go Brandon’ first entered the public lexicon at the start of October and is code for ‘F**k Joe Biden’.
“Southwest does not tolerate any behavior that encourages divisiveness, as it does not reflect the Southwest Hospitality and inclusiveness for which we are known and strive to provide each day on every flight,” the statement from the airline concluded.
Southwest has been in a very public spat with its pilot’s union over the airline’s decision to back Biden’s vaccine mandate. As a federal government contractor, Southwest believes it is covered by the administration’s vaccine mandate and has demanded employees get fully vaccinated by December 8.
The Southwest Pilots Association mounted a legal bid to fight the mandate but a Texas judge there out the union’s case and ruled Southwest’s demands were lawful.
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.