A Southwest Airlines passenger was told she couldn’t display her “Arizonenses Con Biden” sign if she wanted to fly because, the Biden supporter said an agent told her, “many customers are offended by your sign.” She either had to cover the sign “with white paper and tape or to fold it to put underneath her seat.”
On Friday, Jenny Grondahl flew from Phoenix to San Diego, carrying a souvenir: a cardboard sign she wanted to frame when she got home to Southern California. It read with a cactus and was made by an artist named Javier Torres.
It marked an accomplishment for the labor organizer — outreach to Latinos in Arizona to vote for Joe Biden for president in 2020. Grondahl serves on the executive board of Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), representing workers in California and Arizona. She also volunteered for the Biden campaign, and a friend had given her the sign for the hours she worked.
“I worked very hard to register Latino voters. … And Latinos showed up, Arizona went blue,” she said, explaining why it meant so much to her.
She folded the sign and placed it under her seat. She challenged the agent though, with, ‘what would happen if this were on my shirt? And, she says, the agent told her she’d have to wear the shirt inside out.
Last Friday I was told by Southwest Air staff “many” passengers complained and were offended by the @joebiden sign I was carrying under my arm. I was told to cover it up or not bring it aboard. I asked what if I was wearing a @potus tee told I’d be asked to turn it inside out. pic.twitter.com/Mvm0mdz7u1
— Jenny Grøndahl (@JennyGrondahl) August 2, 2021
According to Southwest Airlines,
We pride ourselves on providing a welcoming, comfortable, and safe environment for all Customers and Employees regardless of political beliefs. We’re in conversations with the Customer to address her concerns and we hope to welcome her back on a future Southwest flight.
Shortly after the 2016 Presidential election, a Unied Airlines pilot announced passengers had to keep politics off of the plane. We’ve seen what happens when a flight turns into an election fight.
And so it begins.
On a plane from TX —> DC flight attendants are struggling to control a plane full of Trump supporters as they display a pro-Trump projection and harass others passengers bound for DC.
— Maranie R. Staab (@MaranieRae) January 6, 2021
Once you’re on the aircraft with doors closed, there’s nowhere to run. Fellow passengers can’t opt out of politics, so we all have an obligation to keep tempers down and be polite for the duration of the flight.
Since nearly all U.S. airports are government-owned, I’m not sure they can totally ban political speech like that. But airlines leasing the space can probably enforce this sort of rule.