Duff Watson claims that he and his two daughters were forced off their Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Minneapolis after he tweeted a complaint about the agent at the gate. Only after all three had exited the plane and the agent watched Watson delete the tweet were they allowed back on the plane. The agent apparently told him that his tweet constituted a security threat.
Watson, an A-List Southwest Member, is allowed to board flights early. But apparently, the gate agent refused to allow his children to board early with him.
"I am not trying to game the system," Watson told ABC News. "I'm not going to leave my kids alone to board. That doesn't make sense."
The agent then allegedly told Watson that he and his children would have to wait until the rest of the A-list members boarded before they could walk onto the plane.
"We waited, which was fine," Watson said. "I thought she was very rude and wanted to complain to customer service, so I asked her: 'Can I get your last name?'"
That's when he tweeted the supposed tweet in question. (Watson's Twitter has since been made private.)
"Something to the effect of, 'Wow, rudest agent in Denver. Kimberly S, gate C39, not happy @SWA,'" Watson told the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis.
After sending the tweet, Watson and his kids finally boarded the plane, where the ordeal apparently escalated: An announcement was made on the plane that Watson exit the aircraft. After leaving the plane with his daughters, he claims to have been approached again by the same gate agent.
"She [the agent] said I was a safety threat," Watson told ABC News. "I was shocked. There was no use of profanity, there were no threats made. How was I a safety threat?"
The gate agent allegedly threatened to call the police unless Watson deleted the tweet, and watched as Watson removed the offending tweet from his timeline and then ordered them back on the plane.
Southwest has apparently apologized to Watson for the incident. From WCCO:
Southwest Airlines sent a statement which confirmed that a customer was removed for a short time and continued on to Minneapolis. They also said the incident is under review.
In an email to Watson, Southwest apologized for the incident. Because of confidentiality concerns, they could not disclose any disciplinary actions taken.
Watson says he's not satisfied with their response. All three received $50 vouchers, but Watson says he won't fly Southwest Airlines again.
"I'm not going to fly them again," Watson told ABC News. "I wish I didn't back down, I wish I didn't delete the tweet. But under that quid pro quo situation, I did it."
Update, 10:45 p.m.: It's been brought to my attention (naturally) on Twitter that Watson's tweets appear to have been saved on website Scoopnest.
His tweet that allegedly got him and his kids booted from the plane:
Ironically, Watson had previously tweeted positively about Southwest:
[Image via ABC News/Twitter]