Passenger Kicked Off Southwest Flight Due To T-Shirt

Southwest Airlines Rules
image: FOX2NOW from Roadwarrior

Is it worth getting kicked off of a flight due to a t-shirt? I’d probably say no but that’s exactly what happened to a guy flying on Southwest from Dallas to Chicago.

Daniel Podolsky, a college student was flying home after attending the South by Southwest Festival when the plane had to make a stop in St Louis due to poor weather in Chicago.

Podolsky was wearing a shirt that he got at SXSW from Comedy Central. It was a freebie given out to promote the show Broad City. However, the shirt had an extra dirty word included.

The shirt had the words Broad F***ING City written in large white letter on the front.

During the unexpected stop in St Louis, Podolsky got off the plane to use the bathroom. When he tried to get back on board, the gate agent had a problem with his shirt.

He was told to remove the shirt, cover it with a jacket or wear it inside out but refused to do so.

According to USA Today’s Road Warrior Voices, “Podolsky’s next move was to confront the gate agent and he was then escorted from the terminal on the arm of one of St. Louis’ finest police officers.”

Podolsky told news channel FOX2NOW that he would’ve gladly complied with the request but this was proven to be a lie. His own cellphone video was the incriminating evidence of his refusal to comply with the agent’s request.

Podolsky was allowed to board a later flight after changing his shirt. Southwest said that they stuck behind their crew’s decision to kick Podolsky off of the flight.

Was Southwest out of line to tell him what was acceptable or not to wear on  board the flight? Was Podolosky’s freedom of speech silenced by the airline?

While I don’t think airlines should be able to dictate a dress code or tell us what is or isn’t acceptable to wear, this t-shirt may have been just a bit out of line.

Find out more from Road Warrior Voices here.

16 thoughts on “Passenger Kicked Off Southwest Flight Due To T-Shirt

  1. UBtraveler- I personally wouldn’t wear that shirt and the reason I would’ve felt bad was due to the fact that he had already flown with the shirt. Why now was it an issue? Someone mentioned that it was initially covered up which I did not know…

  2. I’m surprised that you would have felt sympathy for the guy if he didn’t lie. Besides the issue of his character and that of 1st amendment rights, it just seems that Americans (which I am) have lost any foundation for made judgments (moral or otherwise).

    For example if the shirt had some kind of racist/bigoted/anti-gay/neo-nazi word or expression, people would gladly bury the “freedom of speech” right in order to get the guy to cover up or change shirts, whether on an airplane or any other public place.

  3. While I agree with the airline, I wish they would focus this energy on denying boarding to people who can’t fit in their seat. While I may not have to look at the shirt, I do have to deal with someone infringing on my personal space.

  4. Sammy Young is absolutely correct – 1st amendment bars the government from preventing free speech. Private companies can do what they want, particularly with speech they find offensive.

  5. There’s a long history that businesses can refuse service for non-protected classes (ie., no discrimination). I think they could easily argue the were protecting their legitimate business interest as it would be reasonable that other fliers could be offended and especially not to want young kids to be exposed to that.

    I see dress codes at lots of restaurants, and other businesses. Why are airlines different?

    Even without the lie I wouldn’t feel sorry for him. I feel certain he knew he was inviting confrontation of some type. Like I said – I don’t think he was stupid (except maybe for having made a video of his lie).

    It is ironic that even in this discussion of free speech that the “extra dirty word” is always masked. Is that self-censoring or adherence to business rules?

  6. The flight is not spring break with no rules……..little kids…..I have no sympathy for people without discretion………

  7. augias- I can see it both ways but since he was already on the flight it seemed a bit odd that the shirt became an issue.

    Sammy Young- I’m not a lawyer so I can’t say that this is true or not.

    Carl P- If he didn’t lie about what happened I think I would’ve almost felt sorry for him. I just wonder to what extent the airline can tell you what is not acceptable to wear on a flight.

    1. The reason it became an issue after he deplaned for a break is because up to that point he was wearing a coat over it so no one saw it. I don’t feel sorry for this idiot a bit…

  8. I am assuming he wasn’t stupid enough not to think the shirt would cause trouble. He was out to cause a stir, did, and then lied about out. He got to make his statement – he just didn’t get to finish his flight.

    1. Exactly. Supposedly a grown man, though I’d argue not mentally grown, who doesn’t give a care what any youth see, much less respectable people. Just an attention getter, who should be happy now, because he got what he wanted, lie about it or not.

  9. the shirt may be silly, but he was already on the flight — not this gate agents’ business. And using dirty language and the F word is also covered by the first amendment. You don’t have to look at his shirt if you don’t like it.

    1. The First Amendment doesn’t apply here. Only the government, not private enterprises, are prohibited from suppressing speech.

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