Southwest Never Meant To Apologize To Doctor They Had Arrested

In our post earlier today about the 65-year-old doctor who tried to use the bathroom on a recent Southwest flight and was subsequently arrested, we noted that the airline sent him an apology letter and a $100 voucher. That seemed kind of inappropriate for the situation, right? It turns out the letter was never meant for Dr. Madduri and was sent to him by mistake. According to our reader RedwoodFlyer (Sockatume also picked up on it), the letter was actually about him and was sent to all the other passengers on the flight; he was never meant to see it.

The problem was that the person who wrote the apology letter mixed up the gender of Dr. Madduri—which led him to believe it was about the female flight attendant in question—when really he was the individual with the “bizarre behavior.” When you read it with this new understanding, it becomes clear that Southwest fully sided with the flight attendant and never meant to communicate with Dr. Madduri about the issue.

“Dear Sivaprasad Madduri: Sometimes an explanation for the reason why things happen isn’t always possible, and the bizarre behavior of the individual during your June 26 flight to Las Vegas supports this point. While I’m unable to explain the circumstances surrounding the disruption, I think it’s important to offer my heartfelt apologies for any concerns you may have had as a result of this event. Naturally, we don’t want this experience to affect your feelings about flying with us in the future, or for it to be your last recollection of traveling with our Company.

“In fact, we would consider it a privilege if you gave us another opportunity to provide you with better memories. I am confident your next trips with Southwest Airlines will be more pleasant and to prove just that, I sent a LUV Voucher to every person (except, of course, the lady who caused the disruption) who was onboard your flight.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Dr. Madduri’s arrest and the apology letter back in July, and they were able to get a slightly different story from Southwest that naturally makes the airline come off in a better light, but still leaves many questions unanswered:

Brandy King, the spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines, said flight attendants were required to explain the cockpit-door and front-galley regulations as part of the preflight announcements.

Yes, but many of us zone out during those announcements.

King said the flight attendant tried to explain the regulation to Madduri during the incident. The criminal complaint, filed by the FBI, makes mention of a second flight attendant who allegedly tried to explain the regulation to Madduri after he returned to his seat after his first effort to get to the lavatory. The complaint says the first flight attendant again tried to explain the regulation to Madduri when he made his second attempt. The complaint states that Madduri said, “I’m not listening to you.”

Did the FBI talk to any of the other passengers? That would settle the argument. Sadly, the FBI office in Las Vegas did not return repeated phone calls.

“Doctor now regrets pleading guilty over incident on airplane” [STLtoday via airliners.net]