Southwest Airlines announced on Oct. 31 that it has launched an internal investigation after one of its pilots allegedly used a phrase that has gained popularity as a signal of opposition against President Joe Biden.
The pilot allegedly said “Let’s Go Brandon” to passengers over an intercom during a flight from Houston to Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Oct. 29, The Associated Press first reported.
Southwest wrote in a statement on Twitter that it’s “conducting an internal investigation” into the incident and “will address the situation directly with any employee involved.”
“Southwest does not condone Employees sharing their personal political opinions while on the job serving our Customers, and one Employee’s individual perspective should not be interpreted as the viewpoint of Southwest and its collective 54,000 Employees,” the statement reads.
The phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” emerged following a NASCAR race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on Oct. 2, which was won by NASCAR driver Brandon Brown. As NBC reporter Kelli Stavast interviewed Brown on camera after the race, the crowd could be heard in the background chanting “[expletive] Joe Biden.”
The interviewer seemed to mistake the chant for “Let’s go Brandon.”
“As you can hear the chants from the crowd, ‘Let’s go Brandon,’” Stavast said at the time.
The phrase has been a euphemism ever since and has been used widely in real-world situations and on social media.
Neither Stavast nor NBC Sports have appeared to correct the false information she gave to viewers. Neither Stavast nor representatives for NBC Sports responded to requests for comment by press time.
Southwest said in the statement that the pilot’s political views don’t represent that of the company’s.
“Southwest does not tolerate any behavior that encourages divisiveness, as it does not reflect the Southwest Hospitality and inclusiveness for which we are known and strive to provide each day on every flight” the company added.
The incident comes just weeks after hundreds of Southwest Airlines employees protested outside of the carrier’s headquarters in Dallas against the impending COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The carrier has mandated that its workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8 under federal rules, barring religious or medical exemptions.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly has said that the company won’t fire employees who fail to get vaccinated by the December deadline.
“It is a work in progress, and we’re going to continue working in good faith to meet the requirements of the executive order. But I’ve already said, and I’m sure you’ve heard, we’re not going to fire anybody who doesn’t get vaccinated,” he said on Oct. 29 in a statement to media outlets.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.