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Southwest Airlines flight attendants angered by pilot's tirade

June 23, 2011|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
(David Zalubowski / Associated…)

Southwest Airlines flight attendants are considering a federal discrimination claim against a pilot whose cockpit rant about "gays and grannies and grandes" on his flight crew was accidentally broadcast to the control tower and other planes in the airspace over Texas.

The incident happened on a March 25 flight from Austin to San Diego but was only made public Tuesday when KPRC-TV inHouston obtained the cockpit conversation and posted it on its website.

Here is a link to the TV station's audio clip and a caution: Although some of the language has been "bleeped" out, there is other inappropriate and offensive language that is audible.

Southwest said the pilot, whose name has not been released, was disciplined, suspended and underwent "diversity and inclusion" training, but flight attendants say Southwest needs to do more.

In an online response Wednesday, TWU 556, the flight attendants union, said it was considering filing a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if the airline doesn't "remedy this injustice." It wasn't clear exactly what action the union wants Southwest to take.

"Bigotry in the workplace is bad business and unacceptable behavior on the ground and at 30,000 feet," the statement said, in part.

Southwest produced its own online response Wednesday with a video of Capt. Chuck Magill, vice president of flight operations, apologizing for the rant.

"On behalf of the pilot, I want to apologize to our employees, to our customers and to fellow pilots in the industry," Magill says in denouncing the behavior.

On the audio tape, the unnamed pilot is heard speaking with his co-pilot about "11 ... over the top ... homosexuals and a granny.

"Eleven. I mean, think of the odds of that. I thought I was in Chicago, which was party land. After that, it was just a continuous stream of gays and grannies and grandes."

A voice can be heard from the control tower telling the pilot his mike is stuck open.

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