Southwest Airlines recently suspended a pilot who decided to kick back during a slow moment of his in-flight duties, and get a few things off his chest. What followed was two and a half minutes of the sort of performance one normally has to buy a minimum of two drinks at a comedy club to hear.
The pilot used a great deal of salty language to complain about the lack of social opportunities with other Southwest employees, because he thinks they’re all either old, overweight, or gay. History has not recorded the reaction of his co-pilot to this tirade, but no one else who heard it was amused.
Lots of other people heard it, because the pilot didn’t realize his mike was hot, and the whole rant was blasted out over an air traffic control frequency. A Houston air-traffic controller had to get the pilot’s attention and let him know that his microphone was open.
“The actions of this pilot are, without question, inconsistent with the professional behavior and overall respect that we require from our employees,” declared Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King.
Never fear, because after a round of “diversity training” and heartfelt apologies, Captain Open Mike has been reinstated, and will fly again.
Alas, this might not be good enough for the Southwest flight attendants’ union, which is thinking about filing a bias complaint with the federal government. Union official Thom McDaniel complained that Southwest tried to blow the whole thing off by calling the pilot’s rant “a private conversation,” and feels it is important to remind the company that flight attendants “do important work, and should not be demeaned by pilots, managers, or anyone.”
What’s the point of all those diversity training consultants, if they don’t protect the company from bias complaints when some blockhead accidentally turns what was, indisputably, a “private conversation” into a scandal by accidentally leaving his microphone on? Wouldn’t it be better to fire all the diversity consultants and bank the money wasted on them, to pay off the odd settlement to angry lawyers?
Is this going to be another one of those trials where telepathic lawyers demand the corporation be punished for “creating an atmosphere” of ageism, homophobia, and fat-ism? If so, it probably won’t help Southwest that they once put the image of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model on the side of an airplane.