There are very few things more tedious and terrible than being stranded in an airport far from home, not knowing when you’re going to be able to tell your loved ones that you’ll be traveling again.
Such is the case for thousands of Americans this week, after Southwest Airlines’ entire operation appeared to implode before our very eyes, on account of an outdated scheduling system from the 1990’s – at least according to union leaders representing employees of the troubled company.
Now, to add insult to injury, these already irritated and stranded travelers are facing the threat of arrest in Nashville.
A viral video posted to social media appears to show a Nashville airport police officer threatening to arrest stranded Southwest Airlines passengers for trespassing if they did not leave the secured section of the airport.
Southwest Airlines personnel asked for an officer to escort passengers from the C concourse to the pre-security ticket counter the night of Dec. 25, according to a statement released by the Nashville International Airport.
The video, which was posted by 20-year-old Nashville resident Amani Robinson, captured part of the interaction between the officer and several people who were lined up at a desk outside a gate.
“If you have no ticket, you don’t need to be on the secured side,” the officer said in the video.
The situation was abjectly ludicrous.
“But we have tickets,” someone in the group said.
“Your tickets just got canceled,” the officer replied.
The video also shows Shelley Morrison, Robinson’s mother, asking the officer to clarify why they would be arrested for trespassing.
“If you don’t have a valid ticket and you’re on the secured side and you refuse to leave, you’ll be arrested,” the officer said. “Right now, Southwest is calling us because you guys are congregating right here, but they’re trying to close that gate.”
Morrison explained to the officer their flight had only been delayed, not canceled, based on text message alerts they received from Southwest Airlines. Before the officers approached, she said they spoke to an agent at a gate who directed them to the service desk, where two workers were trying to help a long line of people.
They waited in line for nearly an hour before one of the workers announced over the intercom that she was leaving and that she was calling security. Nobody told the people gathered they had to leave if they had a canceled ticket, according to Morrison.
Video of the incident was frustrating to watch.
WOW: Nashville airport cop threatens to arrest stranded passengers who are standing in line at a Southwest counter to rebook their cancelled flights (1/2) pic.twitter.com/UARLErYdSZ
— Brad Batt for TN State Sanity ✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾 (@bradbatt) December 28, 2022
Southwest stock was down nearly 9% for the week heading into Friday’s market open.