A Southwest pilot who thought he was chatting with his co-pilot was actually talking over the ATC frequency when he made disparaging remarks about flight attendants, lacing his comments with hateful slurs and swearing. A Houston TV station acquired a recording of the March 25 remarks and posted it online this week. On the recording, the pilot said he found 11 out of 12 flight attendants to be unworthy of his dating interest because they were overweight, too old, or gay. At one point, he told his co-pilot, "I don't give a f---. I hate 100 percent of their asses." The conversation, which contained "something to offend almost everyone," according to the KPRC-TV reporter, went on for about two and a half minutes. Southwest has not identified the Houston-based pilot, but said he was suspended without pay and sent to "diversity education," apologized to controllers and co-workers, and has been re-instated.
In a statement issued to the Houston TV station, the FAA said that when the incident occurred, an air-traffic controller in the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center alerted all pilots on the frequency to check for a stuck microphone and said the conversation being broadcast was inappropriate. The FAA sent an audio recording of the conversation to Southwest for further action. The FAA added that it "expects a higher level of professionalism from flight crews." On the full audio excerpt, the controller breaks in to say, "We don't need to hear that." Another pilot pipes in to say, "That was not us!" and added, "And they wonder why airline pilots have a bad reputation."