A Southwest Airlines pilot is facing an internal investigation after using a phrase over a flight’s public address system that has become synonymous with a profane insult for President Joe Biden.
The investigation was announced Sunday by the airline. It comes after the pilot signed off his greeting to passengers aboard a flight from Houston to Albuquerque last Friday morning by saying, “Let’s go, Brandon.”
The use of the phrase drew audible gasps from some aboard the flight, according to Colleen Long, an Associated Press reporter who was on the plane and who first reported the incident.
“Let’s go Brandon” originated from an Oct. 2 NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, where Brandon Brown, a 28-year-old driver, was being interviewed by NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast.
Behind Brown and the interviewer, the crowd was chanting something. Stavast suggested they were chanting “Let’s go, Brandon,” only to later have it become obvious that the crowd was saying “F— Joe Biden.”
Since then, the phrase has become increasingly popular among conservative circles to secretly insult the president. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., have used the phrase on social media or on the House floor during a speech criticizing the Biden administration.
In a statement, Southwest Airlines said it “takes pride in providing a welcoming, comfortable, safe, and respectful environment” for its millions of customers, adding that it would be reminding employees that “public expression of personal opinions while on duty is unacceptable.”
“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,” it said.
“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 statement continued.
Southwest’s internal investigation comes as Biden’s approval rating has sunk to 42 percent, according to results from the latest national NBC News poll.
Kurt Chirbas contributed.