The Slatest

Southwest Airlines Under Fire After Pilot Says “Let’s Go Brandon” Over Intercom

Two Southwest planes at a gate
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Oct. 11. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Southwest Airlines has vowed to investigate after at least one of its pilots uttered the words “Let’s go Brandon” over the plane’s public address system. The phrase has become popular as a way to insult President Joe Biden. And in a weird twist of fate, Associated Press reporter Colleen Long was writing about the increased popularity of the phrase and just happened to be on the flight. “[That feel when] you’re trying to go on vacation and then the pilot says the very thing you’re working on over the loud speaker and you have to try to get him [to] comment but then almost get removed from plane,” Long tweeted. A TikTok video purportedly showing a Southwest pilot saying the phrase also spread like wildfire on social media, although it’s unclear whether it’s from the same flight.

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Long said she heard the phrase on a Southwest flight from Houston to Albuquerque on Friday morning, noting there were “audible gasps from some passengers” when the pilot used it as a signoff to his greeting over the public address system. Long said she recognized she “probably sounded insane” because she was asking airline staff “to open a locked cock pit.” Southwest immediately said that it “takes pride in providing a welcoming, comfortable, and respectful environment” and that “behavior from any individual that is divisive or offensive is not condoned.” The airline later issued a more forceful rejection of the comment. “Southwest does not condone employees sharing their personal political opinions while on the job serving our customers, especially when comments are divisive and offensive,” the airline said.

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The airline vowed to investigate after the report of the pilot uttering the chant that has become popular in right-wing circles led to uproar on social media. Some went as far as to call for a boycott of the airline, which has been suffering lots of flight cancellations. The airline has denied rumors that its cancellations had to do with vaccine mandates.

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The phrase has grown in popularity in recent weeks as the seemingly innocuous words have become code for insulting the president. It all dates back to earlier this month, when a crowd at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway broke out into a “Fuck Joe Biden” chant. A sports reporter for NBC was interviewing NASCAR driver Brandon Brown at the time and said the crowd was actually chanting, “Let’s go Brandon!” The clip quickly went viral on social media as some conservatives claimed it was an example of how journalists distort the truth. Since then, the chant is showing up everywhere and was even uttered on the floor of the House of Representatives by Rep. Bill Posey.

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