Southwest Airlines has found a way to turn the tables on its recent bad publicity over tossing off lesbian kissers, loose-trousered rock stars and corpulent movie directors from its jet planes.
The Dallas-based air carrier is allowing cameras into its midst for a reality show. The cable network TLC has ordered 13 episodes of a new reality show focused on the trials and tribulations of a modern American airline company.
The as-yet untitled series — which producer ITV Studios America will put into production starting this weekend at airports in Baltimore and Denver– promises to take viewers "behind the scenes of the modern air travel experience, sharing the large-scale operations and personal customer stories at Southwest Airlines," according to a TLC statement.
Southwest attracted a huge amount of negative publicity when a flight attendant made director Kevin Smith get off a plane for being overweight. Smith tweeted his righteous rage, a campaign against the airline that went viral in 2010. The airline had similar recent snafus in ejecting a pair of women kissing along with rock star Billie Joe Armstrong for wearing "sagging" pants.
"Air travel has become incredibly accessible, and as a result, millions of travelers navigate the challenges of the airport, especially during the upcoming holiday season,” said TLC general manager Amy Winter in the statement. “Southwest is a beloved brand, and their customers and employees will reveal the passion, commitment, and fantastic payoff of 'getting there' that helps keep us all flying.”
Southwest has been showcased on an ITV reality television series before — its operations were the subject of "Airline," which ran on A&E for three cycles from 2004 – 2005.
The series follows a recent trend of airline-focused shows: ABC unveiled the 1960s drama "Pan Am" in September, and CW aired the short-lived "Fly Girls," about Virgin flight attendants, last year.