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‘If my Aunt had a penis she’d be my Uncle’: United Airlines captain who posted insults about gay people and women in pilots’ forum forced to resign as union leader

  • Captain Neil Swindells, the newly elected chairman of the United Airlines chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), has resigned from his position
  • Resignation comes after derogatory comments he made on a ‘private pilot forum’ were revealed
  • Comments were directed towards various ethnic and minority groups and brought to light by other pilots before Swindells’ election which he narrowly won
  • Despite issuing an apology, Swindells faced significant backlash and ultimately decided that his position had become ‘untenable and a negative distraction’ 
  • In an email to United’s more than 14,000 pilots, Swindells stated that the controversy over his comments ‘does not represent who I am as a person’

The head of the United Airlines pilots’ union has resigned after he was accused of antisemitism, racism, and homophobia in the wake of remarks he made on a private forum for pilots.

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Captain Neil Swindells, a Chicago-based Boeing 787 captain who has been at United for almost three decades, was recently elected master chair of the United Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association which represents more than 14,000 pilots at United Airlines.

On Tuesday he issued an apology after his remarks were make public. Several other pilots called then for his resignation but Swindells vowed to stay on.

On Wednesday he made an about-turn and released a statement announcing his resignation.

Captain Neil Swindells, the newly elected chairman of the United Airlines chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), has resigned from his position after derogatory comments he made on a 'private pilot forum' were revealed

Captain Neil Swindells, the newly elected chairman of the United Airlines chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), has resigned from his position after derogatory comments he made on a ‘private pilot forum’ were revealed

 

‘There has been a significant negative response to things I posted on a pilot forum,’ Swindells said in an email to the members of the 14,000 strong union on Wednesday. 

‘While many of these things have been taken completely out of context and publicly weaponized against me, I cannot ignore their existence and the damaging effect it has had on many of my fellow pilots. For that, I am truly sorry and apologize unreservedly.

 ‘It became clear my position was untenable and a negative distraction’ to ongoing contract negotiations, he wrote. 

In the message to pilots, Swindells said that the controversy over his posts ‘does not represent who I am as a person. … I have had a spotless record of service to the Association and the Company for over 27 years, but errors in judgment on a pilot forum may have damaged that reputation. I hope it has not.’ 

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One aviation blog, Live and Let’s Fly reported how one post made by Swindells in September 2022 read: ‘Continuing to get your gay man on today, I see. Brava! And if my Aunt had a penis she’d by my Uncle!’

Various offensive comments directed towards various ethnic minority groups were brought to light by other pilots before Swindells' election which he narrowly won

Various offensive comments directed towards various ethnic minority groups were brought to light by other pilots before Swindells’ election which he narrowly won

Swindells, a Chicago-based Boeing 787 captain who has been at United for almost three decades, was recently elected master chair of the United Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association which represents more than 14,000 pilots at United Airlines

Swindells, a Chicago-based Boeing 787 captain who has been at United for almost three decades, was recently elected master chair of the United Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association which represents more than 14,000 pilots at United Airlines

The previous year he appears to have responded to a post regarding United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby with ‘Continuing to get your gay man on today I see.’ 

Another posting read: ‘And I’m sure Emirates had Nothing To Do with the Emirates Male Captain being flanked by a United Female First Officer, either, right??? Every Single Optic was Designed with a nod to Emirates’ Dominance Of The Codeshare, while giving United their desired DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] money shot!!!’

Other comments in the forum made by Swindells saw him insulting different ethnic groups including gay people, Jewish people, and women, according to CBS News.  

Swindells, a longtime pilot for United pilot was only elected to his position as the Master Chair of the United Master Executive Council of the ALPA union on December 19.

His predecessor, Mike Hamilton, had also held the position for less than a year before being forced to step down due to a family issue. 

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Swindells was elected by a pilots’ union executive council that consists of 19 pilots.

His comments had been found by other pilots before the election, which Swindells narrowly won.

Regarding United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, pictured, Swindells wrote 'continuing to get your gay man on today'

Regarding United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, pictured, Swindells wrote ‘continuing to get your gay man on today’ 

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