Pilot at SFO calms passengers after heated political exchange erupts on flight

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (KGO) -- A pilot was forced to calm a plane full of passengers after a heated exchange broke out over this week's presidential election.

An outburst between two passengers happened on a plane flying between SFO and Puerto Vallarta Friday morning.

It was not the kind of announcement passengers usually hear from an airline pilot: "As people, we have the common decency to respect each other's decisions, and to get along on this three hour and 13 minute flight."

The man who shot video of the announcement said in a phone interview the announcement came after an argument between two passengers.

"He said, 'At least I get to keep my guns.' And then she said, 'How can you say that to a brown person' and she's African American," the passenger said.

They were arguing about the election. A United Airlines spokesman said flight attendants separated them before the pilot's announcement. This is the latest in a string of outbursts by people since Tuesday.

In Pittsburg, neighbors snapped a picture of a banner that includes the n-word. Pittsburg police say it violates an ordinance banning large banners on private property and they are ordering the resident to remove it.

Psychologist David Matsumoto studies hate speech. "I think it's natural to see eruptions of these feelings here and there over time, but the real question is the degree to which it's going to be sustained. And there, leaders take a very important role," Matsumoto said.

He praised the United Airlines pilot for handling the incident on the plane.

"If anyone has a problem with this and needs to vent or rant or rave, there's another flight tomorrow. It's not going to be on this one," the pilot said.

The flight continued without incident.
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