Updated: Nov 1, 7:32am PT.
For the record, I really do like Southwest Airlines (SWA). I’ve flown them dozens of times but not hundreds, like I’ve flown the other major carriers because I cherish assigned seating, confirmed seats with extra legroom and first class upgrades. Flying SWA is just too much of a risk for getting a bad seat (if you don’t check-in or show up to the airport in time). But I’ve always loved the carrier’s fun attitude (the flight attendants are often hilarious), the two free checked bags and no change fees.
However, it seems the airline has lost its way recently. It began two weeks ago and I wrote a post, Why You Shouldn’t Book Southwest or American Airlines This Holiday Season, addressing it. The post was about how Southwest canceled over a thousand flights and blamed the weather while no other airline nor the FAA said weather was a factor. Weather only played a small part in the problem when Jacksonville airport shut down for a short period. And yes, Southwest is a point-to-point airline so even a little hiccup could cause serious problems. Combine that with the fact that the airline aggressively tries to serve too many flights and cities, which also set them back. But no doubt, the main reason were staffing issues including some pilots calling in sick in retaliation for the federal vaccine mandate.
Even though the airline and their pilots union vehemently denied that was the cause, I know for a fact this definitely played a small part as I have pilot friends who are in a closed Facebook Group with other pilots who said that was the case. FYI: There’s also a push for unvaccinated pilots to stick together and call in sick November 8-11 but that’s a whole other story.
Now, the latest hiccup for Southwest is that one of their pilots on a Houston to Albuquerque flight Friday morning signed off his greeting over the public address system with the phrase, “Let’s go, Brandon.” There was an AP reporter on the flight and she said there were audible gasps from some passengers.
After reading multiple stories about this, I had to do some research since I didn’t know the meaning behind “Let’s go, Brandon.” Well it turns out, “Let’s go, Brandon” stands for “F—- Joe Biden.” According to the Associated Press: “It started at an Oct. 2 NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Brandon Brown, a 28-year-old driver, had won his first Xfinity Series and was being interviewed by an NBC Sports reporter. The crowd behind him was chanting something at first difficult to make out. The reporter suggested they were chanting “Let’s go, Brandon” to cheer the driver. But it became increasingly clear they were saying: “F—- Joe Biden.” NASCAR and NBC have since taken steps to limit “ambient crowd noise” during interviews, but it was too late — the phrase already had taken off.”
“Let’s go, Brandon” is definitely way better than actually saying “F—- Joe Biden” which I’ve seen on t-shirts and flags flying from houses (including one of my eccentric relatives) but I don’t care who is named. I would be offended if it read “F—- Donald Trump” and I really dislike the man.
But when pilots start pulling this nonsense and there are no repercussions, it’s not going to end well. Until Southwest (and American Airlines) deal with their pilots and the vaccine mandate, travel over the holidays isn’t going to be very merry. UPDATED: Southwest Investigating Pilot’s Anti-Biden Insult During Flight
Oh, and did I mention that, according to FlightAware.com, so far today (9:11am ET), Southwest has canceled 185 flights and American has canceled 670? To put that in perspective, United has canceled 10 flights and delayed 39 Delta 3. See screenshot below.
Yesterday (Oct 30): Southwest canceled 87 flights and delayed 745. American canceled 543 and delayed 432? To put that in perspective, United has canceled 18 flights and Delta Air Lines canceled 2, See screenshot below.
FYI: I will also probably still book LAX-JFK flights on AA since I have top tier elite status with them so getting free upgrades and knowing these flights are least likely to cancel outweigh the risks.