Southwest Airlines

OpenCalais Metadata: Ticker: 

PHOENIX  — No explosives were found on a Southwest Airlines plane that was diverted to Phoenix with 143 passengers on board, authorities said.

The FBI said Monday that an afternoon flight from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas, landed in Phoenix after someone called in a bomb threat.

Laura Eimiller of the FBI's Los Angeles field office said Flight 2675 left Los Angeles International Airport at 2:12 p.m. and was heading to Austin before the threat was received by telephone.

F-16s were scrambled out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson to monitor the flight as a precaution as it flew into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, according to NORAD officials.

Flight 2675 landed safely at about 3 p.m., and authorities in Los Angeles asked Phoenix police to check out the possible threat.

The plane's crew and 143 passengers got off the plane and boarded several buses.

All passengers were interviewed by Monday evening, FBI special agent Manuel Johnson said in a statement. Investigators were making all efforts to identify the caller who made the bomb threat, he said.

The investigation continued Tuesday and no arrest has been made, Johnson said.

Sky Harbor spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez said the plane was isolated on the tarmac away from terminals.

Flights took off and landed only on the airport's two south runways Monday evening due to the investigation, and some arrivals were delayed, Rodriguez said.

The passengers from the diverted plane were flown to Austin on another flight, arriving early Tuesday morning, Southwest spokeswoman Katie MacDonald said.

The plane that was diverted was returned to service Tuesday, she said.

The first UT football game this fall will not only feature a new starting quarterback but will also introduce a new six-figure sponsor to the UT community.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, whose CEO, Gary Kelly, is a UT alumnus, announced July 23 that it will sponsor all 20 official UT sports teams as well as the Texas Exes alumni association for the next five years. The sponsorship will be managed through multimedia marketing company IMG College, which coordinates all sponsorships for UT athletics.

Christine Plonsky, women’s athletics director, said the sponsorship involves a substantial six-figure per-year deal that will give Southwest a great deal of advertising opportunities. Plonsky did not reveal how much Southwest paid in the deal.

“The sponsorship involves cash and some services such as airline vouchers for travel and things like that,” Plonsky said. “The elements within the agreement will give exposure to Southwest through signage, video boards and other things.”

In the athletics department, Plonsky said the money from the sponsorship will support overall operations associated with each sports team.

“The dollars they pay IMG, which then go to the University, inevitably all go to support our operations here, which support our student athlete teams,” Plonsky said.

Tim Taliaferro, a spokesman for Texas Exes, said the sponsorship is smaller for the alumni association than it is for UT athletics, but still important for those who want to stay in touch with what goes on at the University.

“Texas Exes exists to champion the University and to keep people connected,” Taliaferro said.

Scott Willingham, vice president and general manager of Longhorn IMG Sports Marketing, the IMG division in charge of UT athletics marketing, said the sponsorship will be divided between the athletics department and Texas Exes according to the value of each group.

As the official airline sponsor, Southwest takes its place at the top level of sponsorship over any other airline that wishes to sponsor the University, Willingham said. He said other airlines wishing to advertise at UT can buy media time on radio or television.

“No other airline can be official,” he said.

An official sponsorship allows a corporation to use trademarks associated with the University, Willingham said.

“Official sponsors have certain assets,” Willingham said.

“Mainly they have the rights to use marks and logos. They also have the right to say that they’re official.”

Brad Hawkins, Southwest Airlines spokesman, said the decision to partner with the University was business-oriented, as well as positive for employees of the airline.

“There are lots of longhorns at Southwest for whom this was a very special deal,” Hawkins said. “But it was very much a business decision about aligning two brands that have a lot of value.”

As a result of the new partnership between Texas Sports, UT’s alumni association Texas Exes and Southwest Airlines, the gold lines and red heart that make up the Southwest Airlines logo will have a reserved space on the UT campus for the next five years, most notably at UT football games.

The Dallas-based airline released a statement Monday saying it will sponsor all 20 official UT sports teams and the Texas Exes in a five-year contract beginning fall 2012. The airline, whose CEO Gary Kelly is a UT alumnus, will have a presence at home football games and promotional events throughout the year. It will also be the primary sponsor of the first home football game every year.

Texas Exes spokesman Tim Taliaferro said it has not yet been determined how the money from the sponsorship will be spent.

“I don’t know that we’ve determined what it will go to exactly,” Taliaferro said. “The money isn’t earmarked for any specific need. Texas Exes is delighted to be partnering with the UT athletics program’s and Southwest Airlines’ deal, and we feel it is going to be valuable to our members.”

Taliaferro said the partnership between UT Athletics and Texas Exes is due in part to the efforts of Texas Exes CEO and executive director Leslie Cedar.

“One of Leslie’s real priorities is to improve partnerships on campus, and she has worked at building relationships with other parts of campus like athletics,” Taliaferro said. “I think somewhere in that discussion it became clear that we should all be working together to identify possible sponsors.”

It was cursing — not kissing — that got a lesbian actress and her girlfriend escorted off a plane as it sat at a Texas airport, Southwest Airlines said Tuesday.

The airline said the couple became profane after being reprimanded for what actress Leisha Hailey characterized as “one modest kiss.”

Hailey immediately used her Twitter account to accuse the airline of discrimination and call for a boycott.

Hailey is best known for playing Alice Pieszecki in the now defunct Showtime lesbian life drama “The L-Word.”

The incident cast a national media spotlight on the actress, who is now part of the electro-pop duo Uh Huh Her.

Halley’s publicist Libby Coffey said the encounter was real and was “absolutely not” done as a publicity stunt for her band’s upcoming breast cancer awareness tour.

Hailey and partner Camila Grey also denied in a statement Tuesday that the affection they showed toward each other was inappropriate.

“We want to make it clear we were not making out or creating any kind of spectacle of ourselves. It was one modest kiss,” the written statement said. “We are responsible adult women who walk through the world with dignity. We were simply being affectionate like any normal couple.”

The airline responded that Hailey’s display of affection was excessive and drew customer complaints and that the women cursed after being reprimanded.

“Additional reports from our employees and customers onboard Flight 2274 during a stop in El Paso on Sunday now confirm profane language was being used loudly by two passengers,” the airline said. “Although we have reports of what customers characterize as an excessive public display of affection, ultimately their aggressive reaction led to their removal from the aircraft.”

Hailey and Grey acknowledged that they became upset after the flight attendant reprimanded them and told them Southwest is a family airline.

“We take full responsibility for getting verbally upset with the flight attendant,” their statement said. “No matter how quietly homophobia is whispered, it doesn’t make it any less loud.”

Hailey and Gray said they plan to file a formal complaint with the airline.

Details of how the couple was escorted off the flight were not included in the Southwest statement. Initial reports had the flight going from Baltimore to St. Louis, but a tweet by the band says its members were flying from El Paso to Los Angeles, which the airline confirmed.

Hailey said in a tweet that she has an audio and video recording of the encounter between the couple and the flight attendant. It’s not immediately clear who made it. Coffey did not respond to an email requesting access to the recordings.

Hailey also demanded a public apology and a refund from the airline. The airline said it had reached out to all passengers involved to offer refunds.

Southwest’s website says it is the official airline of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Herndon Graddick, GLAAD’s senior director of programs, said companies must train employees to welcome all customers.

“Just like all couples, Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey should be able to express affection in public,” Graddick said. “The widespread outrage around Leisha’s report demonstrates that fair-minded Americans will no longer stand for discrimination of gay and lesbian couples.”

Earlier this month, the Dallas-based airline kicked off Green Day’s lead man Billie Joe Armstrong for wearing his pants too low. The Grammy winner was escorted off a plane after failing to follow a flight attendant’s directive to pull up his pants.

Southwest also removed director Kevin Smith from a flight last year because he didn’t fit properly in a single seat. His first tweet read, “Dear (at)SouthwestAir I know I’m fat, but was (the) captain (...) really justified in throwing me off a flight for which I was already seated?”