Fox News is reporting that a college student who was returning to school after the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin was pulled off a Southwest Airlines flight because of an offensive word on a T-shirt that he received at the festival.
The student, Daniel Podolsky, was wearing a T-shirt given out by Comedy Central to promote the show Broad City. It was a dark gray T-shirt with large white letters and said Broad F**kig City.
The Southwest Airlines flight that Podolsky was traveling on from Dallas to Chicago was diverted to St. Louis due to bad weather in Chicago. Podolsky left the aircraft to use the restroom in the terminal, and when he returned, he learned there was an issue with his T-shirt. He was then confronted by a Southwest Airlines employee. Podolsky filmed the confrontation, and briefly uploaded it to YouTube, but has since been removed by the user.
Podolsky contacted Fox 2 Now in St Louis to tell his side of the story. According to Fox 2:
We asked him if he was given an opportunity to remedy the situation.
“Did they give you any opportunity to put your jacket back on, to change the shirt, to put it inside out?” we asked. Podolsky’s response: “It just happened so fast. Within thirty seconds the flight was gone. I mean I would have gladly done so.”
But the video of the confrontation on the plane that Podolsky provided FOX 2 tells a slightly different tale. Saying he “would have gladly done so,” is clearly not the case.
“They talked to you about your shirt?” the airline employee is seen asking him at the door of the aircraft. Podolsky responds, “They did.”
According to Fox 2 Now St. Louis, this the transcript of the video filmed by Podolsky:
Southwest Agent: ”Can you change the shirt?”
Southwest Agent: “Can you put the jacket on and leave it on through the flight?”
Southwest Agent: “Can you put the shirt on inside out?”
Southwest Agent: “Is there anything you can do not to display the shirt because at this point we can’t allow you to go.”
Podolsky: “I have freedom of speech.”
Southwest Agent: “I know you do…”
Podolsky: “Really it’s not bothering anyone.”
Southwest Agent: “I can show you in our contract of carriage that you can’t wear any shirts that says offensive…”
Podolsky: “Can we take a poll?”
Podlosky was accommodated on a later flight after he agreed to change his T-shirt. Southwest Airlines Contract of Carriage states that “Carrier may refuse to transport, or remove from the aircraft at any point, any Passenger in any of the circumstances listed below” which includes “persons whose conduct is or has been known to be disorderly, abusive, offensive, threatening, intimidating, violent, or whose clothing is lewd, obscene, or patently offensive.” Is this much ado about nothing? Or was Southwest Airlines correct in not letting the T-shirt fly? What do you think?