Grouchy Southwest Crew Deplane Man For Vodka Joke

Southwest Airlines cabin crew reportedly deplaned a man after he made a joke about vodka. The cabin crew member apparently took offence on the flight from Sacramento to Austin last Wednesday.

Southwest Airlines Vodka Joke
A passenger was reportedly removed from a Southwest Airlines flight after making a joke regarding vodka. Photo: Southwest Airlines

The flight flew from Sacramento to Austin via Los Angeles. However, there was a severe delay after a warning light was spotted in the aircraft. As is usual in situations where there appears to be no evidence, the story on either side seems decisively different. Simple Flying takes a look at the eyewitness statements versus Southwest Airlines’ response to a request for comment.

So what happened?

According to various reports, Southwest flight 478 was delayed on Wednesday 8th of May. The flight was due to depart from Sacramento heading to Los Angeles at 1555 local time. However, according to data from, the flight did not actually take off until 1923.

As such, the flight attendants were handing out water to those onboard the aircraft as is customary during long delays. It appears matters weren’t helped, as the aircraft reached the runway before returning to the gate.

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Southwest Airlines Vodka Joke
The pilots returned to the gate for a second time in order to offload the passenger. Photo: Southwest Airlines

The passenger version of events

Yahoo Lifestyle spoke to a passenger who witnessed the incident. He claims that a passenger joked that the water should be vodka given the lengthy delay. The cabin crew member told the passenger, “yeah, its vodka”. It appears from the eyewitness testimony that the crew member took offence when he said, “Hey, this isn’t vodka.”.

The aircraft then returned to the gate for a second time. The man interviewed, 70-year-old Peter Uzelac, claims that three police officers were dispatched to meet the aircraft, and remove the passenger who joked about the vodka.

The Southwest Airlines version

Simple Flying spoke to a Southwest representative regarding the incident. They were unable to give us details as they, “don’t have reports from our Crew or the Customer involved to confirm this claim”.

However, they did go on to add, “we can share that Southwest Crews are trained to handle various scenarios that might occur onboard our aircraft but would not remove a Customer for simply making a joke”.

Southwest Airlines Cabin Crew
Southwest Airlines claim they would never remove a passenger for simply making a joke. Photo: Southwest Airlines

Who should we believe?

It does seem absurd that a passenger would be removed from a flight for telling a joke. However, stranger things have happened. In this specific case, there is a distinct lack of evidence and material facts. This is a problem for both sides of the argument. As such, it appears to very much hinge on “he said, she said”.

It could be the case that an overzealous flight attendant had the man removed for no reason. However, there could be more to the story then has been communicated. It is possible that the passenger was removed from the aircraft for entirely different reasons. However, it has been reported that the gentleman was not charged with any crime according to the New York Post.

Who do you believe in this vodka joke dispute? Let us know in the comments!

  1. Are you for real? Did you read the part where everyone else defended the man?

    Apparently not, ’cause you interviewed only ONE person.

    Trust me…that passenger’s recount of the events is ACCURATE.

    And this isn’t a courtroom where he-said/she-said comes into play.

    This is a case of a Customer filing a complaint to an Airline about their CSR’s(Stewardess) who used her position of authority to remove the victim(as I call him) unjustly.

    1. Hey Glenn,

      I’m reporting based on available facts. Just for the record, I didn’t interview anybody for this piece, I referred to other publication’s interviews. I was not there, so I have no proof of what happened, and I’m happy to take a look at both sides of the argument rather than just assuming that one side is correct. And yes, I did read the part where “everybody defended the man”. However, again, this was from the interview of the one person whose interview I referred to. I’m curious as to how you know that customer’s recount was accurate. Were you there? If so I’d be happy to add a note to the story.

      1. I was on the plane and the person removed did NOTHING wrong. The flight attendant must have been having a bad day. She was at fault and held us up for hours in my opinion for NO reason, She needs to be retrained!

  2. There is no “she said” in your “he said/she said argument. In all the published accounts I have read on this, the airline does not refute what the man (removed) and several other passengers have said. All the airlines has said is, “we wouldn’t do that” and “we have turned it over to customer relations.” The preponderance of the evidence based on several passengers stories is that the man just made a joke. The airline offers no different version of events… No “she said” or statement from the stewardess. Airlines generally treat their customers poorly. That is why I don’t fly unless I have to and if I do, I go to a customer focused airline like Delta.

    1. I can’t see how a customer would get de-planed for just making a vodka joke. Something
      else must have been said by either the customer and/or his wife. I used to travel by plane
      every week and have seen a few passengers escorted off of planes. Prior to their de-planing,
      raised voices and finger pointing were involved. Afterwards, the captain calmly asks all of us
      passengers if anyone had any issues with the delays. No one spoke up and we eventually went on our way.

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