Student kicked off Southwest flight for offensive t-shirt


Daniel Podolsky was banned from boarding a Southwest flight for violating the airline’s dress code. (FOX 2 St. Louis)

By now, most travelers know it’s not a good thing to yell, “bomb” on a plane — or for that matter wear anything offensive.

But one college student apparently didn’t get the memo. 

A New York student returning from the South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas was stranded in St. Louis after being kicked off his flight for wearing a shirt Southwest airlines deemed inappropriate.

Daniel Podolsky was on a Dallas to Chicago flight when his plane was diverted to Lambert Airport in St. Louis due to bad weather, reports Fox 2 St. Louis.

Podolsky deplaned to use the restroom, but when he returned to the gate a Southwest agent told him his black t-shirt with the words “Broad F—king City,” wouldn’t fly.  The shirt was a promotional item handed out by Comedy Central to hundreds of festival attendees. 

Podolsky claims that he was wearing a jacket during the first leg of the flight, so apparently no one took notice of his shirt—until he shed a layer in the cabin.

“It’s only when I got back on the plane when it was gonna take off, ya know, you have this much space, you’re gonna take your jacket off because it’s hot,” he explained.  “I took my jacket off, so he sent someone to remove me from the flight.”

So why didn’t the airline give the student time to quickly change clothes before taking off?

Podolsky told Fox 2 that he “would have gladly done so” if given the opportunity, but by the time he realized what was really happened the flight took off.

Yet, Podolsky recorded a short video of the confrontation in which he appears agitated with the Southwest agent—refusing to change clothing, or even put the shirt on backwards.

The transcript of the dialogue follows:

 Gate Agent: ”Can you change the shirt?”

Podolsky: ”Nope.”

Gate Agent: “Can you put the jacket on and leave it on through the flight?”

Podolsky: [unclear]

Gate Agent: “Can you put the shirt on inside out?”

Podolsky: “Nope.”

Gate Agent: “Is there anything you can do not to display the shirt because at this point we can’t allow you to go.”

Podolsky: “I have freedom of speech.”

Gate Agent: “I know you do…”

Podolsky: “Really it’s not bothering anyone.”

Gate Agent:  “I can show you in our contract of carriage that you can’t wear any shirts that says offensive…”

Podolsky: “Can we take a poll?”

Podolsky was not allowed to board the plane and is sticking to his “freedom of speech” defense. He contacted the local FOX station after he claims the airport police were called to escort him from the terminal.

Southwest Airlines has responded to the incident in defense of its crew member.

 “We rely on our Employees and Customers to use common sense and good judgment,” spokesman Dan Landson told the station on Monday.

Podolsky eventually changed his shirt and was permitted to board an early evening Southwest flight back to his final destination in New York.

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