Southwest Disciplines Pilot for Accidentally Broadcasting Profane Rant

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John Gress / Reuters

A Southwest Airlines pilot has been suspended after he accidentally broadcast a conversation where he used homophobic slurs to refer to several flight attendants, and went on to describe how “ugly” some women were.

On March 23, an unidentified pilot was speaking to someone else when his microphone became stuck. Unfortunately, what he had to say about the flight attendant crew was not nice, laced with words that we probably can’t republish here, no matter how much we’d like to. The uninterrupted stream of hateful comments was broadcasted to air traffic controllers and other crews, with many listening in. The flight was en route to San Diego from Austin.

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The remarks range from homophobic to derogatory, and the pilot even goes on to complain about two flight attendants who never slept with him. An airport controller tries to warn the pilot to stop talking, but the two-minute dialogue continues. An outside pilot who overhears the conversation goes on to quickly remark, “… and they wonder why airline pilots have a bad reputation.”

Southwest has taken action, suspending the pilot for a period without pay. The pilot also received “diversity education,” for his insulting behavior. He has apologized to the airline and to the Federal Aviation Administration. Meanwhile the pilot has been reinstated and is back on the job, but he’ll probably have to do a bit to earn the trust of his crew – or his passengers, for that matter.

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Southwest Airlines apologized for the incident, saying “We’ve built our company’s reputation on the Golden Rule: treating others as you would like to be treated, with concern, care and respect.” Unfortunately, that’s something he probably should have remembered before he opened his mouth.