Is A Legal Battle Brewing In Chicago Over This Ad?

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The union representing Southwest Airline’s pilots wanted to place this ad in Chicago’s Midway International Airport this week in advance of the Southwest Airlines Annual Meeting of Shareholders which will be held on May 18, 2016 in Chicago, IL.

Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association ad denied by the Chicago Midway International Airport. (PRNewsFoto/SWAPA)

The pilot union said that Chicago Midway International Airport denied the sale of the ad space, and yesterday SWAPA filed papers in the Eastern Division of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to appeal the decision.

According to the press release published by the pilot union,

“SWAPA believes that the City of Chicago has engaged in viewpoint discrimination, as is demonstrated by the fact that Chicago previously allowed advertisements in Midway and O’Hare airports on other supposedly “controversial” subjects, such as animal testing, agricultural policy, and climate change. SWAPA believes the City of Chicago uniquely singled out SWAPA’s message because it disagreed with it, which is unconstitutional.”


“We are very disappointed by the city and airport’s decision to needlessly silence our voice and deny our welcome message to shareholders,” said SWAPA President, Captain Jon Weaks. “Our ad was described by the City’s Department of Aviation as ‘offensive’ despite simply showing a pilot in uniform and mentioning the undeniable fact that shareholders have received over $3 billion in stock buybacks from Southwest since the last pilot wage increase. We believe that is what is truly offensive.”

All of this comes as Southwest Airlines has been in contract negotiation with its over 8,300 pilots since 2012. The two groups are currently in federal mediation, and SWAPA says hundreds of pilots will descend upon Chicago on May 18 to engage in informational picketing on Michigan Avenue and near Chicago Midway airport.

Bottom Line: 

Southwest Airlines is the dominant carrier at Chicago’s Midway Airport with over 200 departures a day. Is the denial of this ad purely politics?  Or is the ad really somehow harmful or offensive to the traveling public?  What do you think of this situation?


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  1. With all the vast challenges Chicago is facing in terms of crime, education, and economics, it’s heartening to know that bureaucrats have put censoring ads to the top of their to-do list.

  2. The only potential malfeasance I can see is tampering, if union negotiations are either in progress or scheduled to commence, but I’m not a lawyer….

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