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Unsafe Experience

New Arrival

I typically love to fly Southwest, but I will likely be having second thoughts after the unprofessional and personally invasive behavior of a southwest employee on my most recent flight. 


I left a personal item on the plane after exiting and after briefly leaving the gate turned around to retrieve it. No employee was present at the gate but I was soon encountered by one on the boarding ramp as made my way back down to ask for help. Before I could speak the employee sharply rebuked me trying to reboard the plane and told me I needed to turn around immediately. I responded I left an item on the plane. She said, “I will take care of it. You need to leave now and go back up.” She was harsh in tone, adamant, and not willing to listen. I did not feel heard especially as she did not ask what I had lost and where I was sitting. Not arguing, I proceed to remain where I was standing and tell her what I had lost and where I was sitting before turning around to wait. The whole time of this first interaction she walked aggressively toward me and got in my face for not immediately obeying her barked orders and threatened me that security would be coming. I immediately turned around and waited by the gate door just outside of my fellow exiting passengers path.


Apparently I had not exited enough because when the employee returned with my item she again beraided me for not leaving the ramp fully and refused to hand over my property. At this point it was nearly 11:30pm at night and no other flight was leavin from the gate. The terminal was empty except for exiting passengers. I asked twice for my property and she withheld it almost as a punishment for not leaving. At this point I reached for my belonging to take it and be on my way. 


The employee then physically engaged my person in an attempt to prevent me from taking it. I had grabbed it quickly and she then pushed me. She was irrate and yelling in my face. I said I was leaving and turned to walk away. She threatened me saying she was calling the police. I felt very unsafe after the way she physically engaged me and left the scene. She attempted to follow me for a while. 


For the typically amazing customer service I am used to on southwest, I was shocked. Southwest please screen your employees better. 


Re: Unsafe Experience

Rising Star

@Angrycustomer88 wow!!! What an experience. I understand the agent taking the stance that you had to wait in the terminal, but the aggressive behavior sounds extreme. If the agent physically touched your “person” you should have let her call Security and the Police. This behavior does not sound like SWA though. 


Glad to hear that you got your item back, but if I was you I would reach out to Customer Relations through a DM via Twitter. 


SWA Passenger, Community Champion

Re: Unsafe Experience

Top Contributor

Sounds like a perfectly awful experience. Sorry you had to endure it.


Hope you got the name of the Southwest employee. If you did, please share it with customer relations so the employee can receive appropriate recognition for her behavior. Be sure to tell them the gate number and date/time this happened. The airport probably has a video of the interaction.

Re: Unsafe Experience

Active Member


not reboarding the plane is an FAA policy, not a Southwest policy.  Though I do not agree with the flight attendant’s methods, she was attempting to enforce policies that the federal government set up for everyone’s flying safety.  Just like locks on the cockpit door, the federal government concluded that if people could get back on, they might leave something aboard that could be dangerous (even though I would argue that they were screened in the first place so how?). But I do not know how secure the outer doors on the jetway are.  


The airline has to enforce FAA safety standards, so even though she was overly aggressive, she is required to assume you had been trying to do something bad to the plane and that you did not care about anyone getting in your way.


I remember when the FAA required a pat down of any passengers flying on a one way ticket after 2001 because a suicidal terrorist would not pay for a round trip ticket.  I was relieved when they changed that policy, but I grudgingly complied knowing that someone deemed that it was for everyone’s safety, and I knew complaints to the agent doing the patdown were not the proper channel to voice disagreement.


I know the experience was bad, but remembering that the people who did the bombings did not even care about their own lives is the reason for the aggression. Terrorists are not reasonable people so the attendants are trained for that potential situation to enforce the rules assuming that the offender is unreasonable.  


It is similar to joking about guns in the TSA line.  They can haul off a person and lock them up for a time just for what seems like an exercise of free speech, but jokes are not appropriate in every situation, and those folks are working toward our safety.  I hate that the 99.5% have to toe the line because 0.5% want to do harm, but unfortunately the 0.5% operate completely different from the average Joe or Jane and people charged with law enforcement have to be prepared mentally.  


Someone will argue that the airlines at times have to empty a plane and then reboard it, but in those situations, the gate agent handles the boarding process and everyone has to have a boarding pass.  That process falls under a different process that a random person walking down a jetway toward the plane.  I even have seen gate agents start then stop the boarding process announcing that the flight attendants were not ready so they may be deemed the decision makers as to who gets on board when.


again, I am sorry this happened to you in this manner,