Mini-Skirt Customer Doesn't Accept Southwest's Marketing-Filled Apology

Southwest Airlines’ CEO apologized to Kyla Ebbert after a flight attendant tried to kick her off a flight because of her outfit, but she’s having none of it.

Why? Because she doesn’t like the obvious marketing tie-in. Southwest’s apology to Kyla came in the form of a press release touting their new “mini-skirt” fares.

“They are exploiting me again by using my traumatic experience as a marketing ploy,” Ebbert told ABC News.

Well, yes. That is exactly what they are doing, and they’re not really being shy about it. Southwest’s so-called apology was littered with cute phrases such as “great legs” and “hot flashes.”

Interestingly, ABC news didn’t quote the part of the “apology” that offended Kyla, instead choosing to paraphrase it to make it sound more heartfelt.

ABC News:

Ebbert did get an apology on Thursday from Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest, who issued this statement: “Kyla, you are a valued customer, and you did not get an adequate apology. We could have handled this better, and on behalf of Southwest Airlines, I am truly sorry. Our company is based on freedom even if our actions may not have appeared that way.”

Southwest offered Ebbert two free round-trip tickets. But Ebbert said she felt the apology was “back-handed” and “two months late.”

Here’s the real apology:

“From a Company who really loves PR, touche to you Kyla! Some have said we’ve gone from wearing our famous hot pants to having hot flashes at Southwest, but nothing could be further from the truth. As we both know, this story has great legs, but the true issue here is that you are a valued Customer, and you did not get an adequate apology. Kyla, we could have handled this better, and on behalf of Southwest Airlines, I am truly sorry. We hope you continue to fly Southwest Airlines. Our Company is based on freedom even if our actions may have not appeared that way. It was never our intention to treat you unfairly and again, we apologize.”

The quote was followed by Southwest’s announcement that they were launching radio ads for their new “mini-skirt” fares. ABC also reported that Ms. Ebbert told them she was flying to Tuscon for a post-op check because she’d had breast enlargement surgery. Way work that in there, ABC. We really needed to know why she was going to the doctor.

Southwest ‘Cover’ Girl Is Still Angry [ABC News]


Edit Your Comment

  1. llcooljabe says:

    Let it go and move on.

  2. txinfo says:

    She should just get over herself, Did Southwest screw up? Yes. They have admitted it. What else does she want? Probably to sue Southwest for $10 million or so. You know the lawyers are already lined up at her front door.

    She needs to get over herself and get on with her life and stop torturing us.

  3. blue_duck says:

    IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII don’t care anymore.

  4. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    That really is a lame kind of appology. While it isn’t of the same caliber, I doubt a letter to one of the many Arab American’s who delt with issues worse than this on various flights would accept an appology letter littered with puns on Arabic culture, and associated with new “Muslim Madness Fares”.

  5. cryrevolution says:

    Okay so I didn’t like the apology either but c’mon! Enough already.

  6. CumaeanSibyl says:

    I like how they’re apologizing for treating her like a shameless tramp in front of passengers by treating her like a shameless tramp in front of the whole country. Good game, Southwest!

  7. BK88 says:

    Anyone else notice her total skirt length is less than about 8″?
    Look at her hand, the skirt starts at just below the wrist and goes to
    the finger tips.

    I think she is upset because she got caught advertising her goods,
    because the only reason you wear a skirt that short is to advertise!

    When is the personality transplant and face transplant scheduled?

  8. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    @BK88: Perhaps she had to wear such a short skirt for some sort of medical reason, for ventialtion or something. >_>

  9. skittlbrau says:

    You know, if she were really that humiliated and traumatized, I don’t think she would have gone on TV to tell her story in the SAME outfit, requiring NBC to blur out her visible panties.

    I think she’s looking for a payday, and is pissy that Southwest turned it on her.

  10. RottNDude says:

    I flew Southwest this weekend and had some fun messing with the flight attendants – asking questions like “Is this shirt showing too much cleavage?” “Are these jeans too revealing?”, etc. All of them had a good laugh – even got a free beer out of it!

    No complaints at all about SWA. New planes, good service and I’m not a fattie so I fit in the seats without any problems.

  11. spidercoz says:

    I still think they handled it better than most of the other airlines would have. They realize how silly the whole thing is and it’s kinda funny they’re not shy about it.

  12. skittlbrau says:

    Hey consumerist, my comments have vanished into the ether…

  13. Caroofikus says:

    Sounds kinda like Verizon – PR from a screw-up

  14. Razzler says:

    I heard somewhere that what actually happened is that she wasn’t wearing underwear and was tipsy when she boarded. She spent a good amount of time futzing with the overheard compartment, which resulted in her skirt riding up and an elderly couple sitting across the aisle getting a faceful of bare ass.

    It’s probably not true, but it’s fun to think about while listening to this dink whine about what a victim she is.

  15. shades_of_blue says:

    ‘Like OMG people are totally checking out my boob job on cable!’
    ‘OMG I spend 10grand on these boobs and all people comment on are my legs.’

    BFD, get over it. I still say she looks 40, and now that I know her tits are fake I even think less of her. Ebbert, you choose to look like a party girl by choice, and knew you’d be criticized for it.

    And you can’t say that you honestly did not expect Southwest to put a spin on your apology, did you? If you did not, then you should watch that marketing girl from The Simpsons or better yet read how Verizon treats their FiOS customers. ‘FiOS is smoking hot.’

  16. jrdnjstn78 says:

    I’m going to go try this so I can get some free tickets too!!

    This story is getting old. How traumitized can you get for someone telling you that you need to change clothes? Is she going to have nightmares for the rest of her life? Is she not going to be able to function normally anymore? Is she going to have a fear of flying Southwest now?

  17. Meg Marco says:

    @Razzler: Since she wasn’t traveling with luggage of any kind that probably isn’t true.

  18. NightSteel says:

    At least her boob job appears to have been decent?

    Southwest’s response to this doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, if she was looking for a payday and Southwest knew it, I’d expect them to dismiss it out of hand. Of course, this kerfuffle is generating buzz, but still. There have to be some people out there that wouldn’t want to fly an airline that might openly mock them for whatever reason, among others that might not look too kindly upon corporate behavior of this sort.

  19. kahri says:

    I’m gonna have to agree with AlteredBeast on this one. If you were wronged by a company, however it may be, and the “apology” was as condescending as theirs, you wouldn’t just let it go. Especially if you frequent consumerist. Nowhere does it say that she’s suing for $10mil or that SHE contacted ABC. Both companies (Southwest & ABC) misused this girl’s legitimate complaint for their benefit. If this weren’t a thin young white girl in a mini skirt they wouldn’t be so insulting. So they would never have mentioned “muslim madness fares” or “Cuban Life Raft Fares” or anything of the sort. just my .02 cents

  20. philipbarrett says:

    What else did she expect from the airline that handed out paper bags for customers to hide their faces with, whose CEO arm wrestled for a trademark? You’ve had your 15 minutes now get lost.

  21. Buran says:

    @jrdnjstn78: Well, no, it shouldn’t be a big deal, but the fact is that the airline overstepped by butting into her business.

  22. Trackback says:

    You know, I honestly didn’t think I could think any lower of Southwest Airlines. Then this happened. Southwest has offered a faux apology mocking the women they harassed. Seriously.

  23. SOhp101 says:

    TWO free round trip tickets??

    It’s not like she was denied her flight. She was still able to fly on her original one, albeit with a little delay but no real harm done. Just take the two round trip tickets and move on. You got all the publicity you needed on TV now.

  24. valthun says:

    Please, “traumatic experience”? The stupid girl wore a skirt that a flight attendant felt was too short. If the girl was sitting down and you can see the stuff without trying, it’s too short and borders on indecent exposure. Southwest shouldn’t even have to PR spin an apology or make one for that matter. The girl should start wearing longer skirts while traveling, and save the skimpy ones for the bedroom.

  25. randombob says:

    I’d be upset too, if I’d have been wronged by a company, then instead of an honest, full-fledged apology they openly mocked me. Yeah the tickets are nice, but I mean, they publicly ridiculed her essentially, which sort of makes two free tickets (on SW, mind you) kinda like a deal with the devil.

    Shit, if they were going to mock her in such fashion, they should have given her two free tickets – on another airline.

    At one point, this was a case of one person (the flight attendant) possibly overstepping their boundaries. When the CEO does this, it becomes more showing of the ENTIRE COMPANY’S level of respect for their clientele. It’s the job of the higher-ups to handle these situation with class and diffuse it, not douse the embers with gasoline and ignite a fire. It DOES make me want to think twice about SW. I know i wouldn’t want to deal with a company that openly mocks their customers who have legitimate issues.

  26. nidolke says:

    Who wrote that apology, a high school gossip columnist?

  27. CurbRunner says:

    Southwest has chosen to put the “fun time” marketing spin on this incident.

    It would be useful for both Kyla and the flying public to know if the employee that confronted her has been disciplined or just turned loose on the public again.

    Southwest likes to play loose with their employees to the point where I’ve even seen their gate attendants show up for work in their pajamas at the San Diego Airport.

    Also, I’ve heard nothing from Southwest Airlines stating they will make an effort to see that these incidents do not occur again. It is likely that such incidents will happen again as they have published NO DRESS CODE for either their flight attendants to refer to or the public to follow.

  28. hollerhither says:

    I saw a woman at Newark airport over the weekend in a similar outfit…except her skirt was flared out a little so when she walked, it blew up and “out” so there was no way to avoid her “stuff.” This after all the hubub. I guess I defend her right to wear what she wants…but WTF? How is that comfortable to sit in on a plane? Exhibitionist, idiot, or oblivious?

  29. hollerhither says:

    Mine too. No-fly list?!

  30. amoeba says:

    “…she felt the apology was “back-handed” and “two months late.” What?! This happened 2 months ago…Old News Consumerist or maybe she figured it out just recently. I am confused! O_o!

  31. UpsetPanda says:

    For those who think her skirt was too short…think of how the person flying on that plane must feel if they knew they were sitting where someone’s barely clad bottom was.

  32. bbbici says:

    is that a photo of the girl who was denied boarding? Damn, I’d PAY for that to sit next to me!

  33. mandarin says:

    It is a marketing packed apology. Screw Southwest.

  34. lizzybee says:

    Good for her, rejecting the “apology” that wasn’t!

  35. synergy says:

    @MissJ: I’m not completely worried about her “bottom” so much as the rest of it which, if the rumors are to be believed may not have been clad. I’d rather not think about the possible STDs in my plane seat’s fabric.

  36. StevieD says:

    When I was in high school the girl in the seat behind me on the bus was innocently giving me a good view ….. I could not help but stare……

    The bus driver gave a yell and told her to stop showing me her goods.

    I was ruined for life. I know the girl was. She is my wife…. wanna see the pictures of our kids?

    Duh, it ain’t the first time somebody has been caught showing off the goodies. I know my wife was embarrassed. I personally turned 14 shades of red for being caught looking. But this SWA girl doesn’t seem the bit flustered by the whole event. Must wonder to what degree she was drunk…. or maybe she is a working girl and is used to showing.

  37. curmudgeon5 says:

    You know, I would never fly in an outfit like that (or do anything else in it, for that matter), but being tacky is not illegal. I can understand why she felt violated and shaken up after being pulled off the plane, lectured by a male flight attendant, and then ordered to cover herself with a blanket — that’s really humiliating.

    And the “apology” really did make fun of the whole thing — not a mention of how humiliated she must have felt or that the flight attendant was out of life. A real apology wouldn’t have mocked it, and it would have explained what they were doing to ensure that flight attendants have clearer standards for the future.

  38. curmudgeon5 says:

    Whoops, that should have said “out of line,” not “out of life.”

  39. Johann says:

    If one employee acts inappropriately, you can pass it off as just that one employee. If the top executives and the marketing department get together to issue a mocking, self-serving “apology” then the whole company looks bad. Great work, Southwest.

  40. Is ABC getting money from Southwest or what? Nice “reporting”.

    @randombob: I agree. Why would I want to do business with a company that considers customer complaints a joke? Southwest has proven that they’re run by jerks and I can’t see how that’s good PR.

    Unfortunately, with ABC omitting parts of the apology and replacing them with reports of breast enlargement surgery people like shades_of_blue won’t know or won’t care that Southwest was completely out of line here.

  41. kahri says:

    @shades_of_blue: So what if she wants to dress like a party girl? She knew she was going to be criticized for it? Are you serious? NOBODY deserves to be publicly criticized because you don’t like or understand their choices. Especially by a company whom you are patronizing.

  42. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    I think that everyone loses here. I still suspect that Ebbert’s gates of paradise were thinly veiled on the day in question, if at all, but SW sounds more asinine by trying to convert one employee’s questionable judgment into a marketing scheme.