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A video is going viral of a group of passengers being threatened with arrest after their flight was canceled by Southwest Airlines. According to reports, the exchange between a handful of passengers and a police officer took place at the international airport in Nashville, Tenn., this week.
In the video, a police officer is attempting to explain to the passengers that they are required to leave the terminal area, which is considered a secure part of the airport, and return to an area outside of the Transportation Security Administration check-in since they no longer have a flight to catch. Failure to do so, he repeatedly said, could result in their arrest.
“I thought that it would be best to start recording ’cause I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” passenger Amani Robinson told WKRN.
“Me and my family were trying to go to Ohio and we were threatened and followed by this police officer, lmk if y’all want a part 2,” the TikTok video caption reads. The incident reportedly took place on Christmas Day, the outlet reported.
A BNA police officer can be seen and heard in the video telling her: “You and her need to leave or you’ll be arrested for trespassing.”
“You said you’re going to arrest people for trespassing, for being at a ticket counter for a flight?” Morrison asked in the video.
“Yes, if you don’t have a valid ticket, and you’re on the secure side and refuse to leave, you will be arrested,” the officer responded.
@a.ndreart Me and my family were trying to go to Ohio and we were threatened and followed by this police officer,, lmk if y’all want a part 2 #southwestairlines #southwest #police #fypシ #foryoupage ♬ original sound – A.ndreart
Later, he can be seen explaining that federal and state regulations prohibit anyone from being in a secure part of the airport without a valid ticket. He also explained that even though those passengers were holding tickets, per se, they were no longer valid after Southwest canceled their flight.
“It was absolutely shocking to experience that,” said Morrison. “I think that the comments were meant to strike a chord of fear, and honestly, for a moment, fear rose up, but then a righteous indignation kind of rose up as well.”
She claimed that in actuality, it wasn’t until a few hours later that Southwest officially canceled their flight, though the officer, at one point in the video, said that Southwest personnel were attempting to close the gate.
“It was bad enough to have the difficulties with travel. We understand we can’t control the weather, but the insult to injury was our treatment by the authorities there at the airport,” she said.
BNA officials responded to the incident in a statement.
“The Department of Public Safety at Nashville International Airport works to ensure the safety of all passengers throughout the airport,” BNA wrote. With the high number of flights impacted at BNA on Sunday evening, travelers were asked to visit the pre-security ticketing counters for help to rebook flights.
“Southwest Airlines personnel contacted the Airport Communications Center asking that a police officer be dispatched to C-concourse, Gate C-7/9, to escort passengers to the pre-security ticketing counters. We understand and appreciate the frustrations travelers may have, and we are working to provide the best passenger experience for all,” the statement continued.
Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is being heavily criticized by members of both parties for the fiasco with Southwest Airlines over the holidays regarding the crush of cancellations; the airline canceled as many as 62 percent of its flights at one point last week.
“Southwest’s flight delays & cancellations are beyond unacceptable,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., tweeted Wednesday. “This is a company that got a $7 billion taxpayer bailout & will be handing out $428 million in dividends to their wealthy shareholders.”
The Department of Transportation “must hold Southwest’s CEO accountable for his greed and incompetence,” Sanders added, according to Fox News.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, said in a statement that federal rules have to be updated to prevent similar disasters. “The Committee will be looking into the causes of these disruptions and its impact to consumers,” Cantwell said.
Buttigieg pledged in an appearance on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” that airline travel “is going to get better by the holidays.”
The outlet added:
For more than a year, Republican leaders have complained Buttigieg does not take his job seriously amid a series of crises for Americans. Buttigieg was on vacation in Europe as railroad unions attempted to negotiate a deal in September to avoid a potentially disastrous strike. The secretary was on paternity leave with his husband and their two newborns for several months last year as the country faced supply chain shortages.