Southwest to probe pilot's use of anti-Biden insult during flight

A Southwest Airlines jet sits at a gate at Orlando International Airport in Orlando
A Southwest Airlines jet sits at a gate at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida, U.S., October 11, 2021 . REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Oct 31 (Reuters) - Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) on Sunday said it is investigating an incident in which a pilot allegedly said "Let's Go Brandon" - a phrase meant to insult U.S. President Joe Biden - over the intercom during a flight.

In a statement posted to the company's official Twitter account, Southwest said it is "conducting an internal investigation" into the event, and "will address the situation directly with any employee involved."

The incident, initially reported by the Associated Press, took place Friday on a Southwest flight from Houston to Albuquerque. The pilot allegedly said "Let's Go Brandon" during his remarks to passengers, drawing audible gasps, the AP reported.

The phrase has become an anti-Biden meme in the wake of a NASCAR race earlier this month, won by NASCAR driver Brandon Brown. As Brown was interviewed on camera after the race, the largely conservative crowd chanted "F--k Joe Biden!" The interviewer mistook the chant for "Let's Go Brandon," and the phrase has been a euphemism ever since.

"Southwest does not condone employees sharing their personal political opinions while on the job," the company said in Sunday's statement, adding that the pilot's views should not be interpreted as representative of the company's.

Some Republican congressmen have unapologetically embraced the phrase as a rallying cry. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz tweeted a photo of himself at baseball's World Series, posing with a fan holding a "Let's Go Brandon" sign. U.S. Representative Jeff Duncan from South Carolina wore a facemask sporting the phrase at the U.S. Capitol.

"Southwest does not tolerate any behavior that encourages divisiveness," the company said.

Reporting by Nicholas P. Brown; editing by Diane Craft

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