Southwest Airlines passengers get stuck in the Nashville airport on Christmas — then threatened with arrest for 'trespassing'

Screenshots from viral TikTok videos of a police officer threatening to arrest stranded Southwest Airlines passengers.
Screenshots from viral videos of police threatening to arrest stranded passengers at the Nashville International Airport.Amani Robinson/TikTok
  • A police officer at the Nashville International Airport threatened to arrest stranded Southwest Airlines passengers.

  • The incident was captured in viral videos shared to TikTok that have been viewed nearly 1.5 million times.

  • In a statement, the airport said Southwest Airlines contacted them "asking that a police officer be dispatched to ... escort passengers to the pre-security ticketing counters."

Just when yet another stranded group of Southwest Airlines passengers thought things couldn't get worse, a police officer threatened to arrest them.

In two viral TikTok videos shared Wednesday by Amani Robinson, a police officer is seen on ordering travelers at the Nashville International Airport to "leave nearly 1.5 million times.

Robinson and fellow passengers in the posts were among thousands stranded at airports across the US over the holidays, with several unable to rebook tickets.  Southwest was hit especially hard by the cancellations, which stemmed from winter storms and outdated scheduling technology that heavily impacted the airline's staffing.

In the first video, a police officer is seen demanding "everybody to the unsecured side." When questioned by members of Robinson's family and other confused travelers, he replies sternly, "You have no ticket, you don't need to be on the secured side."

"But we have tickets," an unseen person says in the video.

"Your ticket just got canceled," the officer replies.

"Ok, so are we just going to be kicked to the curb?" Robinson asks.

"If you don't have a valid ticket, and you're on the secured side and refuse to leave then you're going to be arrested," the officer says.

A woman later identified by The Tennessean as Shelley Morrison, Amani's mother, then questions the officer for more information. She explains she's an attorney, and is seeking more details about the legal jurisdiction for the arrest threat.

"Right now Southwest is calling us because you guys are congregated right here, and they're trying to close that gate, and we're telling you your information is at the ticket counter," the officer responds. "Please go to the ticket counter, outside of the secured zone."

Southwest Airlines did not immediately respond to Insider's request to comment about the officer's claims.

@a.ndreart Me and my family were trying to go to Ohio and we were threatened and followed by this police officer,, lmk if y’all want a part 2 #southwestairlines #southwest #police #fypシ #foryoupage ♬ original sound - A.ndreart

 

In a followup video posted by Amani Robinson, the police officer approaches her family at a different gate after they have relocated. He again tells them to leave, but Morrison tries to explain that Southwest sent them updated information about their flight.

"Just for clarity, is it customary for the police to stop everybody to check their tickets? Why was I singled out to check my tickets and what was the reason?" Morrison asks the officer.

"Because of our encounter from earlier, I have reasonable suspicion to believe your tickets have been canceled and you were advised to leave the secure side," he responds.

"I am not the only one, you said it to everybody in that line, and there are other witnesses and it's videotaped," Morrison responds. "But I will no longer argue with you about it, I will go to the next place, the ticket counter, but I do have information concerning your badge, your name, your conduct, and your misconduct."

@a.ndreart Replying to @thequintavious1 Mind you we left and went to another line after we left the first line. He then FOLLOWED US to this line and picked us out specifically out of a line full of people. We were not the only ones in the second line that came from the first line either. He picked US OUT. Also we didn’t know much information concerning our ticket and we wanted to get clarity (like every other customer) on what’s going on, which he was trying to prevent us from doing up until this point. I do have a part 3, when we were leaving and he literally follows us and when we ask he LIES and goes a different direction. #southwestairlines #southwest #fyp #foryou ♬ original sound - A.ndreart

The plight of Robinson's family and her fellow passengers drew the attention of many on social media, including 2020 congressional candidate Lindsey Simmons.

Simmons reposted the video and tagged Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a call to action.

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Nashville International Airport did not immediately respond to Insider's request to comment on the status of the police officer, or if any potential disciplinary action was taken. He reportedly works for Nashville International Airport's Department of Public Safety.

In a statement released Wednesday after the videos were posted, the Nashville International Airport said Southwest Airlines "contacted the Airport Communications Center asking that a police officer be dispatched to C-concourse, Gate C-7/9, to escort passengers to the pre-security ticketing counters."

"We understand and appreciate the frustrations travelers may have, and we are working to provide the best passenger experience for all," the airport said.

The statement was seemingly removed from Twitter as of Friday afternoon.

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