Southwest pilot gets locked out of plane, needs to climb through cockpit window

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SAN DIEGO (KSWB) – A Southwest Airlines pilot had to take an unexpected measure to get onto a Sacramento-bound plane at San Diego International Airport Wednesday: He climbed through the cockpit window.

Matt Rexroad, a passenger on Wednesday’s 5 p.m. flight, snapped a picture of the pilot squeezing through the window of the front of the plane ahead of the flight’s departure, which he then posted to Twitter.

The pilot of a Sacramento-bound plane at a gate in San Diego International Airport climbs through a window after getting locked out on May 24, 2023. (Courtesy of Matt Rexroad)

The pilot had been locked out of the cockpit after a customer accidentally closed the door during the boarding process, according to a statement from a Southwest spokesperson.

” … while other customers and flight attendants were onboard, a customer opened the forward lavatory door and inadvertently pushed the flight deck door closed (which locked) while the pilots scheduled to operate the flight were preparing to board the aircraft,” the statement read.

Rexroad, who headed to Sacramento after helping his daughter move out of the University of San Diego, was waiting at the gate at the time. He said a gate agent informed passengers that someone had locked the door to the plane, and that there would be a slight delay while the crew tried to get in.

“As they were saying that, (I was) looking out the window,” Rexroad recounted to Nexstar’s KSWB. “There was the pilot up on the platform, crawling into the end of the plane.”

A worker had jimmied the window open with what Rexroad said looked like the aircraft equivalent of a car door Slim Jim.

“(It was a) matter of seconds before that window was open,” he said. “It was all done incredibly efficiently.”

According to Rexroad, there was about an eight-minute delay before he was able to board with the rest of the passengers. The plane arrived in Sacramento about seven minutes after its scheduled arrival time, he said.

A loyal Southwest flyer, Rexroad ended up posting the image to commend the pilot and the airline for their efficiency and dedication to service.

“Southwest … they move thousands of people every day, with millions over the course of the year, things are gonna happen,” he said. “There’s going to be bumps in the road.”

“That pilot kind of went above and beyond to go and get that plane open, so we can get up in the air,” Rexroad continued. “I thought that was really cool.”

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