Airport police officer threatens to arrest stranded passengers waiting to rebook cancelled Southwest flights

The clash came as travelers across the country faced delays and cancellations

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Thursday 29 December 2022 11:18 GMT
Buttigieg tells Southwest Airlines it will be held 'accountable'

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An airport police officer allegedly threatened to arrest passengers for trespassing when they were stranded at the Nashville International Airport amid widespread holiday flight delays.

In a video, posted on Tuesday by former state house candidate Brad Batt, an officer can be heard saying, “You will be arrested for trespassing.”

All around him, a group of dismayed passengers tries to explain that they no longer have valid tickets for the nearby gate because of problems with their flights.

“Are you kidding me?” one bystander can be heard saying.

“Right now,” the officer continues. “To the unsecured side. The ticket counter will help you with any questions you have. You have no ticket. You don’t need to be in the secured side. Let’s go.”

In the background, passengers can be heard saying, “We’re not even here for this flight,” “We’re stuck here,” and, “Are we just going to be kicked to the curb?”

The Nashville International Airport told The Independent the incident in the video took place on Sunday, as “recent winter weather disruptions have brought operational challenges to airlines and airports across the country.”

“Southwest Airlines personnel contacted the Airport Communications Center asking that a police officer be dispatched to C-concourse, Gate C-7/9, to escort passengers to the pre-security ticketing counters,” the airport said in a statement. “We understand and appreciate the frustrations travelers may have, and we are working to provide the best passenger experience for all.”

The airport did not respond to questions about whether any passengers were arrested.

Southwest told The Independent it doesn’t “have any information to authenticate this report.”

All around the country, airlines struggled to operate as intense winter weather added even more strain to the usual holiday rush.

Southwest was among the hardest hit, canceling roughly 13,000 flights in recent days, according to NPR.

The Department of Transportation and Congress both intend to investigate what went wrong with the airline’s performance this winter.

"After days of trying to operate as much of our full schedule across the busy holiday weekend, we reached a decision point to significantly reduce our flying to catch up," Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said in a video statement.

"Clearly, we need to double down on our already existing plans to upgrade systems for these extreme circumstances so that we never again face what’s happening right now,” he added.

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