'Let's Go Brandon': Southwest to investigate pilot over anti-Biden jibe after outcry

A pilot used the slur in his announcement, leading reporter Colleen Long to be 'nearly removed' after she attempted to interview him for a story

                            'Let's Go Brandon': Southwest to investigate pilot over anti-Biden jibe after outcry
A Southwest Airlines plane on the tarmac of San Diego International Airport. (@ mykingdomphotography/Instagram via Southwest Airlines/Instagram)

Associated Press Colleen Long was settling in for a holiday to Albuquerque when she suddenly found herself in the midst of a major controversy. The Southwest pilot on that flight went viral for signing off with the controversial 'Let's Go Brandon' phrase. In an attempt to get the story, Long tried to get a comment from the pilot, but was nearly ejected for doing so.

The pilot's use of the meme is part of a going trend amongst conservatives and the alt-right, in an attempt to subtly insult President Joe Biden. From the fringes of the internet, the meme has now found its way into the mainstream, even inspiring a TikTok challenge of the same name. It's also inspired a massive hit song by rapper Bryson Gray, which quickly climbed to #1 on iTunes, beating out even Adele. 


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The meme has also found its way into the US Capitol, with Rep. Jeff Duncan wearing a 'Let's Go Brandon' facemask and Sen. Ted Cruz posting with a sign at the World Series. It's also now taken over the air, with a Southwest pilot now being investigated for using the words in his message to passengers. The already controversial flight saw an even more dramatic twist when Long attempted to interview the pilot, and things nearly got out of hand.

Associated Press reporter Colleen Long (Muckrack)

Request 'probably sounded insane'

Long was one of the many passengers on the October 29 Southwest flight from Houston to Albuquerque when the incident occurred. Reportedly, the pilot, who hasn't been publicly identified, signed off his announcement with the phrase 'Let's Go Brandon, "to audible gasps from some passengers." Immediately, the AP reporter sprung into action. She asked the cabin crew to unlock the cockpit, so she could interview the pilot but was denied. She claims the request nearly ended with her being booted off the flight. 

Long chronicled her experience in a story for AP about the meme, tweeting, "TFW you’re trying to go on vacation and then the pilot says the very thing you’re working on over the loud speaker and you have to try to get him comment but then almost get removed from plane." She added a second to that thread, saying, "Also in defense of airline I was asking them to open locked cock pit and probably sounded insane!"


That tweet quickly blew up, garnering over 1,500 likes and nearly 500 retweets. There were also plenty of comments, with people debating the pilot's action and its virtue. Long didn't go into details about what exactly happened aboard the flight. However, her story has been published without a comment from the pilot, so it's safe to assume her request was denied. Once the story blew up, Southwest issued its own statement on the matter.

"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.," they said. The statement added, "Southwest is conducting an internal investigation into the recently reported event and will address the situation directly with any Employee involved while continuing to remind all Employees that public expression of personal opinions while on duty is unacceptable." 

Long is AP's Law enforcement reporting team leader, and has been with the company for over 15 years. She's also published articles for Chicago Tribune, USA Today, The Globe and Mail, and The Washington Times amongst others.

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