Southwest Airlines confirmed Sunday that it had opened an internal investigation after reports that one of its pilots used a phrase during an in-flight announcement that's used by conservatives as a stand-in for a swear at President Joe Biden.
The incident reportedly happened Saturday, when a Southwest Airlines pilot allegedly used the phrase "Let's go Brandon" during an in-flight announcement.
Among the passengers aboard that flight was Associated Press reporter Colleen Long, who had just published a story about the origin of the phrase. She added that she asked the pilot for comment but that the cockpit was locked, and that she was "almost" removed from the plane while seeking comment.
Also in defense of airline I was asking them to open locked cock pit and probably sounded insane!— Colleen Long (@ctlong1) October 30, 2021
Videos showing a Southwest pilot making such an announcement have also circulated on social media platforms like TikTok.
On Sunday, Southwest addressed the reports, saying that it is conducting an internal investigation into the incident. The airline added that it will "address the situation directly with any employee involved while continuing to remind all employees that public expression of personal opinions while on duty is unacceptable."
"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," the airline's statement read.
We know many of you have heard about recent statements that may have been made on a Southwest flight, and we wanted you to hear directly from us. pic.twitter.com/CYh0MugYxd— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) October 31, 2021
"Let's go Brandon" has become a rallying cry for Biden critics since an Oct. 2 NASCAR race. After winning his first race in the circuit's Xfinity Series, Brandon Brown spoke with a reporter from NBC Sports. During the interview, fans in the crowd began a chant of "F--- Joe Biden," but the reporter mistakenly suggested during the interview that the fans were chanting "Let's go Brandon" to congratulate the driver.
Since that interview, the phrase has taken off. Google searches for the phrase have skyrocketed, and the AP reports that the phrase has been chanted at political rallies ahead of the Virginia gubernatorial election.