Southwest pilot climbs through window at San Diego International Airport

SAN DIEGO — A Southwest Airlines pilot had to take an unexpected precaution Wednesday to board a plane bound for Sacramento at San Diego International Airport: He climbed through the cockpit window.

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

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

The pilot was locked out of the cockpit after a customer accidentally closed the door while boarding, according to a statement from a Southwest spokesperson.

“…while other customers and flight attendants were on board, a customer opened the forward lavatory door and accidentally pushed the cockpit door closed (which locked) while the pilots scheduled to operate the flight were preparing to board to get off the plane,” the statement said.

Rexroad, on his way to Sacramento after helping his daughter out of the University of San Diego, was waiting at the gate when a gate agent announced over the loudspeaker that someone had locked the plane’s door and that a small would be a delay while trying to get in.

“As they said that, (I) was looking out the window,” Rexroad told “There was the pilot on the apron, crawling at the end of the plane.”

A worker had slammed into the window with what Rexroad said looked like the airplane equivalent of a car door Slim Jim.

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

According to Rexroad, it took him about eight minutes to board with the rest of the passengers. They arrived in Sacramento about seven minutes after their scheduled arrival time, he said.

Rexroad, a loyal Southwest flyer, eventually posted the image to praise the pilot and airline for their efficiency and dedication to service sending a pilot through the cockpit side window.

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

“That pilot did everything he could to get that plane open so we can get airborne,” Rexroad continued. “I thought that was really cool.”

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