A Southwestern pilot climbs out of the window at San Diego International Airport

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

Matt Rexroad, a passenger on Wednesday’s 5 p.m. flight, took a photo of the pilot sneaking through the window of the front of the plane before the flight departed, which he later posted on Twitter.

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

The pilot had been locked out of the cockpit after a customer accidentally closed the door during the boarding process, 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 inadvertently closed the cockpit door (which locked) while the pilots who were to operate the flight were preparing to board the aircraft,” the statement said.

Rexroad, who headed to Sacramento after helping his daughter out of the University of San Diego, was waiting at the door when a gate agent announced over the speaker that someone had locked the door plane and there would be a slight delay while they try to get in.

“While they were saying that, (I was looking) out the window,” Rexroad told FOX5SanDiego.com. “There was the pilot on the platform, crawling to the end of the plane.”

A worker had jumped out of the window with what Rexroad said looked like an airplane’s equivalent of a Slim Jim car door.

“(It was) a matter of seconds before that window opened,” he said. “Everything was done with incredible efficiency.”

According to Rexroad, it was about eight minutes late before they could board with the rest of the passengers. They arrived in Sacramento about seven minutes after their scheduled arrival time, he said.

A loyal Southwest flyer, Rexroad ended up posting the image to commend the pilot and the airline for their efficiency and dedication to service that sent a pilot through the cockpit side window.

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

“This pilot kind of went out of his way to go open this plane, so we could fly away,” Rexroad continued. “I thought that was really cool.”

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