Minneapolis man claims family removed from plane over tweet

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A Twin Cities resident vows to never fly Southwest Airlines again after he claims he and his two children were kicked off a flight for tweeting a complaint about a gate agent, WCCO reports.

Duff Watson, an "A-List" passenger who is eligible for priority seating, says an agent allowed him to board a Sunday Denver-to-Minneapolis plane early because of his status – but not his children, WCCO reports.

Watson told the agent he was going to air his grievance over Twitter, he tells the station. And he did, using the agent's first name and gate number.

Watson and his children eventually boarded the plane, but were reportedly asked to leave it once the agent spotted the tweet. Watson told the station the agent wouldn't let him or his family back on the plane unless he deleted the tweet, so he complied.

Watson has since tweeted about the incident.

The airline in a statement confirms a passenger was removed from the plane for a short time, and noted the incident was under review. Southwest also reportedly apologized to Watson in an email and sent him vouchers, but the man says he's done flying on the airline.

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In some cases, posting negative tweets about airline employees have gotten people into legal trouble.

The Business Insider says Nashville singer Natalie Grant was sued by a Southwest operations agent last year after Grant was accused of posting angry comments about the agent on Twitter.

According to the Nashville Scene, Grant says she tried to board a flight early with her entire family, but was denied access by the agent. The Scene says Grant purchased Business Select tickets for herself and one child – a ticket that allows for early boarding – but not for her other children and her husband.

In the tweet, the singer said she was particularly upset that her 4-year-old daughter could not board the plane early with her, and called out the agent by name.

Following the tweets, the employee – Jennifer Patterson – sued Grant over claims of slander, defamation, libel and false light invasion of privacy.

The Triangle Business Journal says Southwest has six employees devoted to social media – two of them employees in communications, one in marketing and three in customer relations.

In an interview with the publication, a Southwest representative says the airline encourages feedback from customers, but directs them to their website to file complaints instead of airing them on their Twitter page.

"We use these spaces to jettison issues to other platforms, but we do regularly communicate with the masses in the social space," Brooks Thomas tells the Business Journal.

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