Southwest pilot ‘tells passengers Let’s Go Brandon’ at the end of a flight

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A Southwest Airlines pilot reportedly told passengers ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ as he signed off on a flight from Houston, Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The pilot, whose name has not been released, was seen on TikTok video apparently telling the passengers about the weather outside as they landed.

‘We’re heading east at about 107 or 108mph,’ the pilot, whose face is pixelated in the video, says. ‘Clear visibility, mostly clear skies, about 77 degrees.’

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‘Thanks for coming out, flying Southwest Airlines, welcome home and let’s go Brandon.’

Pilots were also reportedly heard repeating the message on their radios throughout the day, even as someone warned ‘Southwest has a hot mic,’ according to audio posted online.

In a statement to DailyMail.com, a spokesperson for the airlines said: ‘The Southwest Team takes pride in providing a welcoming, comfortable, and respectful environment for the millions of customers who fly with the airline each year and behavior from any individual that is divisive or offensive is not condoned.’

They would not speak about the specific incident. 

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The term ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ has exploded in conservative circles in recent weeks, after a reporter at a NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama seemed to mistake chants of ‘F*** Joe Biden,’ for ‘Let’s Go Brandon,’ after Brandon Brown, a 28-year-old driver won his first Xfinity Series.

The moment was immortalized in a song that hit the top of the charts, and the phrase has since been used by protesters and even public officials.

Republican Rep. Bill Posey, of Florida, ended an October 21 House floor speech with the phrase, South Carolina Republican Jeff Duncan wore a Let’s Go Brandon facemask last week, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz posed with a Let’s Go Brandon sign at the World Series, and Sen. Mitch McConnell’s press secretary retweeted a photo of the saying at a Virginia construction site. 

A Southwest pilot reportedly said 'Let's Go Brandon' as he signed off a flight from Houston, Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico

A Southwest pilot reportedly said ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ as he signed off a flight from Houston, Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico

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The term is a euphemism for 'F*** Joe Biden' that has gained popularity in recent weeks

The term is a euphemism for ‘F*** Joe Biden’ that has gained popularity in recent weeks

The pilots’ alleged use of the term comes amid growing tensions over President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate, which requires that all federal contractors – including airline employees – be vaccinated by December 8.

Video captured by right-wing investigative reporter Drew Hernandez earlier this month showed a long line of demonstrators outside Southwest’s headquarters in Texas protesting the vaccine mandate, with some again chanting ‘Let’s Go Brandon.’ 

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association also filed a lawsuit earlier this month asking a federal judge to ‘temporarily block the company from carrying out federally-mandated coronavirus vaccinations until an existing lawsuit over alleged US labor law violations is resolved.

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It said the mandate ‘unlawfully imposes new conditions of employment.’

The SWAPA ultimately lost the bid last week, after a federal judge ruled that the airline was simply following the law, even after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned companies from issuing vaccine mandates. 

He had signed an executive order stating that the vaccine ‘should remain voluntary and never enforced,’ according to Breitbart, but Southwest maintained that the president’s order ‘supersedes any local rule.

‘We will continue to follow all orders and keep our employees updated on any potential changes to existing policies,’ it said. 

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The company also said it would not put staff members on unpaid leave if they are applying for or have received medical or religious exemptions to the vaccine.

Southwest Airlines employees gathered outside the company's headquarters earlier this month to protest the vaccine mandate

Southwest Airlines employees gathered outside the company’s headquarters earlier this month to protest the vaccine mandate

Some reportedly started chanting 'Let's Go Brandon'

Some reportedly started chanting ‘Let’s Go Brandon’

Southwest pilots also lost a bid for an injunction of the mandate

Southwest pilots also lost a bid for an injunction of the mandate

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The airline has also faced backlash earlier this month, after it canceled more than 2,000 flights over Columbus Day weekend.  

Some had suggested that the delays were due to an unauthorized employee walkout to protest the mandate, but Jacksonville Aviation Authority COO Tony Cugno said that the delays were in fact due to staffing issues at the Jacksonville International Airport.

He claimed that many controllers had been getting their first or second COVID-19 vaccinations, which required them to take two days off to recover – leaving JAX air control short staffed.    

In a letter, obtained by ActionNewsJax, he said: ‘A rumor is circulating in traditional and social, media outlets stating JAX Center was closed due to an organized walkout late Friday by controllers in response to the FAA’s mandate that all employees get vaccinated for COVID.

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‘A contact at FFAA confirmed they did have some staffing issues at JAX center last Friday, however, those staffing issued were due to the following: Normal approved leave (and) controllers who received either their first or second dose of the vaccine and by policy are required to stay home for 48 hours to self monitor for side effects … thus creating some staffing issues.’    

The widespread flight cancellations over Columbus Day weekend left thousands of passengers stranded at the airports, including these people at Orlando airport

The widespread flight cancellations over Columbus Day weekend left thousands of passengers stranded at the airports, including these people at Orlando airport 

They also caused long lines at the airports as customers tried to figure out how to get home, with this line forming in Orlando

They also caused long lines at the airports as customers tried to figure out how to get home, with this line forming in Orlando 

Southwest officials blamed the widespread delays on inclement weather, coupled with staff shortages and cuts to its operation

Southwest officials blamed the widespread delays on inclement weather, coupled with staff shortages and cuts to its operation

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Southwest, though, vehemently denied that the delays were caused by a ‘sick-out’ and instead insisted that the problems were caused by a staffing shortfall and cuts to its operations. 

In August, the airline announced that it would be cutting the number of flights in the fall after operational failures hampered its service in the summer. 

It said that it would trim its daily schedule from September 7 to October 6 by 27 flights per day. Between October 7 and November 5, Southwest plans to cut 162 daily flights from its schedule. More flight cuts are planned for November and December, though the company pledged to protect holiday bookings.

Southwest Airlines President Mike Van de Ven issued a statement following the fiasco vehemently denying that the cancelations were the result of employees protesting its vaccine mandate

Southwest Airlines President Mike Van de Ven issued a statement following the fiasco vehemently denying that the cancelations were the result of employees protesting its vaccine mandate

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Despite widespread rumors and speculation, the weekend challenges were not a result of unusual Southwest employee activity, and there simply is nothing in our data that indicates that particular reason,’ President Mike Van de Ven said following the fiasco, which left thousands of passengers stranded at the airports and caused long lines as customers tried to figure out how to get home.

‘Our employees worked heroically in the midst of these adverse conditions and many came in on off days, or flew additional trips, to help the airline recover.’

He also told employees in that the airline was working to develop a plan to address several shortcomings, including tight staffing on weekends as well as chronic delays and cancellations, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

‘We are still not where we want to be with staffing, and in particular with our flight crews,’ he said in a video message to his company. 

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‘We simply need more staffing cushion for the unexpected in this environment and we are bringing new people onboard every day.’     

As a federal contractor, Southwest Airlines is subject to the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate

But the company only has until December 8 to ensure that all of its employees are vaccinated under President Joe Biden’s mandate for federal contractors, which is tougher than that expected for large companies, which would allow for regular COVID testing as an alternative to a vaccination. 

Southwest’s senior VP of operations and hospitality, Steve Goldberg, and Julie Weber, VP and ‘chief people officer’, wrote in a letter to staffers that if employees’ requests for an exemption haven’t been approved by December 8, they could continue to work while following mask and distancing guidelines until the request has been reviewed.

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Employees currently have until November 24 to either get their vaccinations or apply for exemption, with the pilots’ union that represents the vast majority of the airline’s staff filing a lawsuit over the mandate. 

Southwest will keep paying employees while they review the request and will allow those who are rejected to keep working ‘as we coordinate with them on meeting the requirements (vaccine or valid accommodation).’ 

In addition, Southwest will give employees a chance to reapply for rejected exemptions if they have ‘new information or circumstances.’ 

‘This is a change from what was previously communicated,’ the letter said. ‘Initially, we communicated that these Employees would be put on unpaid leave and that is no longer the case.’ 

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All new employees must still be fully vaccinated.

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Meanwhile, across the United States, 66.5 percent of all Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine as of Friday, and 57.8 percent were fully vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control, however, maintains that community transmission remains high, with 73,705 new cases reported on Thursday and 1,091 deaths. 

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