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Racial profiling

Explorer C



I am writing to complain about rude behavior from a flight attendant named Michael that occurred on flight 2459 (AUS-DEN) on Jan 19, 2020.


I was using the lavatory when Michael slammed on the door and said I needed to “get out now.” I was in the middle of a bowel movement but got up as quickly as possible thinking the pilot wasn’t feeling well and needed to use the restroom. Instead, I was told that I “couldn’t be up here” and needed to go back to my seat.


He made a reference to 9/11 and that it was a security risk to be there. I explained that I was trying to use the lavatory for bodily reasons and he talked over me and said he didn’t care. He said the pilot is aware and something else in an inappropriate tone of voice. A colleague of his apologized for his behavior and said she would be by later to explain, which never happened.


My life partner was in the lavatory before me and heard the woman who used the bathroom before her in the front galley for about five minutes while the flight attendants complimented her dress and chatted about the recent wedding she attended.


This is a stark contrast to my experience. I was only in the galley with my partner after she got out of the lavatory for about 30 seconds to explain that I got pretzels for her before entering the lavatory. In no way could this be interpreted as “congregating” in the galley.


Two points of feedback:


  1. Michael was extremely rude. I fly twice weekly for work and booked over 150k miles last year. I’ve never experienced such a negative interaction with a flight attendant before.
  2. I have thick, dark hair, and a beard. The 9/11 reference Michael made, his tone of voice, and the non-verbal way he approached me gave me the impression that I was being racially profiled, and prevented from using the bathroom due to this.


I hope this feedback is taken seriously.


I suggest (1) that during training, flight attendants are encouraged to treat all passengers with an equal magnitude of respect and (2) SWA’s mission statement with reference to warmth and friendliness is cascaded down to its Customer Service commitment (I couldn’t find anything about being polite or friendly in it).


Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Best regards,

A frequent flier based in Denver, CO


Re: Racial profiling

Aviator A

As this is a customer to customer forum I suggest that you contact Southwest's Customer Relations Department to provide your feedback. 




Re: Racial profiling

Aviator A

@TheMiddleSeat wrote:

As this is a customer to customer forum I suggest that you contact Southwest's Customer Relations Department to provide your feedback. 




I'll add to the above.


The reference to 9/11 was likely due to the fact that the rules about passengers changed dramatically as a result of 9/11. For example, no more than one passenger is allowed to be near the door to the cockpit (ie near the front lav).


Also, I don't know at what point in the flight this occurred. If the seatbelt sign was on (due to turbulence, or approaching landing or shortly after takeoff), federal rules

prohibit passenger from being anywhere except their seats.


As the middeleseat said, if you feel your treatment was inappropriate, you should file a complaint with the airline.

Re: Racial profiling


We're sincerely sorry to hear the details of your experience, @DenFreqFlyerDemonstrating a biased, hurtful attitude is not condoned at Southwest Airlines.  Indeed, discrimination for any reason is wrong.  As a peer-to-peer support forum, we are not equipped to assist you here, but we encourage you to reach out via the options in the link below. Thank you.


Submitting a Suggestion and/or Complaint

Community Manager