Passenger Removed From Southwest Airlines Flight Over A T-Shirt

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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.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 2.18.10 PM

Photo from Podolsky’s interview with Fox 2 Now St. Louis interview

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?”

Podolsky: ”Nope.”

Southwest Agent: “Can you put the jacket on and leave it on through the flight?”

Podolsky: [unclear]

Southwest Agent: “Can you put the shirt on inside out?”

Podolsky: “Nope.”

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?”

Bottom Line:
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?

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Comments

  1. The kid was trying to stir things up;he did create a stir. And he filmed it, then called a TV station.

    We can assume he got off the plane, put on or uncovered his shirt, and proceeded with this silly prank. Southwest was more than accommodating on this one. I would have told him, “You can walk to Chicago; it’s not that cold, and it’s less than 300 miles.”

    I wouldn’t want my 7 year old granddaughter around this guy or his shirt.

  2. I hate to say this…but I’m with the airline on this one. He was given the opportunity to cover it up but he was combative and gave attitude for no reason.

  3. Really pleased that Southwest did this. Cannot believe how big a jackoff you have to be to wear something that offensive.

  4. People think that freedom of speech allows them to say whatever they want to whoever they want with no repercussions. That is not true. Yes, you have freedom to say what you want without fear of governmental harassment but that’s it. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that you can say whatever you want in a public like at an airport or on a plane when company policy of the airline prohibits offensive statements and clothing. The airline is in the right here. Not only was he breaking their policy, they in a professional and calm manner asked him to not display the offensive language. He had lots of ways to easily comply with the policy that he agreed to when he chose to fly on their airline but chose to be a stupid college kid instead of a responsible adult.

  5. Can´t believe that all commenters are with the airline so far.

    Like the shirt or not, its not really that bad.
    Over here in Europe, nobody would care about such a thing.

    I don´t think that those kind of shirts are giving an airline the right to refuse anyone to fly.
    If you dont like that shirt, just dont look at it.

    And anyways, in times of the internet and the youth these days it´s highly unlikeable that a guy in a shirt will ruin other passengers kinds…

    Although i agree that the guy have could have handled the situation otherwise to stay on the flight, I´m with the bad guy.

  6. The guy had the nerve to lie on TV (about not getting the opportunity to comply) and then provided the evidence that he did, in fact, lie is truly remarkable. Clearly a no-brainer that he is in the wrong (without even going into the whole “free speech” ridiculousness).

  7. The first amendment prevents the government from limiting speech, private companies can do it when you enter into a contract with them. This kid is an idiot.

  8. +1 Southwest. Who cares if its fine in Europe? Europe’s in great shape right – I don’t view Europe as a role model for free speech – see what happens when someone there makes a cartoon?

  9. He can go practice your freedom of speech… Somewhere else! Southwest is a private airline, and he agreed to their terms when he bought the ticket.

  10. I’m with Southwest on their decision. I guess if he wanted to wear the shirt he should have flown home via Europe.

  11. While I don’t know if this kid should have been kicked off the flight unless someone complained, I don’t know if he should wear such a T-shirt on a flight where small children could see it, either.

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