Travel

Southwest Airlines flight delayed over mystery mess in aisle

A Southwest Airlines flight was delayed by more than an hour after attendants refused to allow the plane to leave until a pile of rice in the aisle was cleared up.

Passengers said the mess was made almost immediately after travelers began boarding the plane from Atlanta, Georgia, to Houston, Texas, on Saturday.

Jennifer Schaper, who recorded the incident on Twitter, wrote: ‘The flight attendant screamed “who spilled rice?” and is walking up and down the aisles. They are refusing to leave the gate until someone cleans the rice.’

No one would confess to spilling the food, and attendants had to send out for a broom to clean it up before the flight could finally leave. 

It comes after Southwest suffered a widespread technical glitch earlier this week, and was revealed in exclusive data as the second worst airline for delays last year.  

Passengers said the mess was made almost immediately after people began boarding the plane from Atlanta, Georgia, to Houston, Texas, on Saturday

Dubbing the ordeal ‘#RiceGate’, Schaper tweeted: ‘The people in my row and I have now the giggles and she’s looking at us suspiciously.’  

As the flight crew waited for a broom to clean up the mess, Schaper posted a video where the attendant could be heard apologizing to passengers for the delay. 

‘We’re cleaning this rice so you don’t have to walk through it and it won’t be an eyesore,” she said over the speaker. ‘We apologize, but, again, I don’t think you want to walk through it, so let us just take care of it before we leave.’

Alongside a photograph of the mess being finally cleaned up, Schaper tweeted: ‘Rice is getting cleaned but she is MAD. She has let us all know that we were not raised right and she is disappointed in all of us.’

To make matters worse, Schaper added that the flight was even more delayed because ‘an oblivious passenger took advantage of #RiceGateto use the bathroom and further delay the flight.’

She later joked that she and her row-mates had nicknamed the flight ‘The Voyage of The Damned’.

When the flight finally landed in Houston, Schaper took to social media to provide an ‘update’, quipping: ‘There were a few bumps so they didn’t give us beverage service. I think it was punishment.’   

Schaper later told KHOU she did not blame the attendants for the ordeal. ‘It was the end of a long day and apparently they had had a complete crew change. I’m sure they were tired. There had been a delay and we were tired,’ she said. 

She added that whoever had made the mess should have confessed and taken responsibility for it, but she could not help in seeing the funny side of the incident.

‘The whole thing was really comical and I kind of saw the light side of the situation. We’re all stuck there, we may as well make it funny,’ she said. 

Passenger Jennifer Schaper live tweeted the ordeal

Passenger Jennifer Schaper live tweeted the ordeal 

Southwest also suffered a widespread technical fault this week, causing thousands of delays

Southwest also suffered a widespread technical fault this week, causing thousands of delays

Attendants had to send out for a broom to clean up the mess made by a mystery passenger

Attendants had to send out for a broom to clean up the mess made by a mystery passenger

It is the latest tale of woe in a long line of incidents to plague the beleaguered airline in recent weeks. 

A man had to be escorted off a Southwest flight by cops when it landed in Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday after throwing an epic tantrum over a screaming child. 

The passenger was recorded midair screaming and claiming the baby had been crying nonstop for 45 minutes. 

The ordeal unfolded when the flight was forced into a holding pattern around the area outside Palm Beach due to a bad weather front.

On Tuesday, Southwest were forced to briefly ground all flights nationwide after a technical issue – leading to 2,400 delayed flights. 

The hold on departures backed up traffic at airports from Denver to New York City, and came just months after the airline suffered an epic system meltdown over the holiday travel rush in December. 

Exclusive data for DailyMail.com this week revealed Southwest was among the worst offenders for flight delays in the last year. 

From April 2022 to April 2023, Southwest suffered delays on a quarter of its flights – second only to JetBlue Airways which was late for 31.6% of its journeys, according to flight tracking platform FlightAware. 

A Southwest airlines spokesperson told DailyMail.com: ‘This appears to be a normal departure, and we do not have any flight irregularity reports or specifics surrounding the passenger claims. It’s not unusual for a flight attendant to request a broom from our airport staff to allow Crew to tidy the plane prior to departure, when needed.’  


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