Pilot Apologizes for Anti-Gay Rant; Union Drops Complaint

Associated Press

Thursday June 30, 2011

The Southwest Airlines Co. pilot who insulted gays and older workers in an open-mike rant has apologized.

The 12-year veteran of the Dallas-based airline, James Taylor of Argyle, Texas, was caught on an open cockpit mike using slurs and profanity to complain that attendants were mostly gay or too old or too heavy for him to date. The comments went out over an air-traffic control frequency.

Taylor said in an email that Southwest distributed this week to employees that the comments were "truly insensitive of me and I would like all of you to know that from now on, I will show nothing but the utmost respect during my interactions with all employees."

Taylor said the incident had "forever changed me and I hope that others can learn from my mistake."

The Southwest flight attendants' union said it dropped plans to file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after Taylor apologized. But union president Thom McDaniel also said the incident wasn't isolated and shouldn't be swept under the rug.

"We hope we never have to deal with this type of incident again," McDaniel said.

Southwest, which hasn't formally identified the pilot but confirmed that the email was legitimate, said the pilot was suspended and ordered to go through diversity training after the March incident. He has been reinstated but for health reasons hasn't worked since his comments surfaced last week.

Taylor previously apologized to air-traffic controllers and to Southwest employees in Houston - he had singled out flight attendants there for particular derision, calling them ugly except for "maybe a handful of cute chicks" - but had not apologized more broadly until the email this week.

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