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WestJet sorry after passenger gets Ragged treatment

Ragged Ass Road, in Yellowknife

Patrick Kane/The Globe and Mail

Take off that Ragged Ass Road T-shirt before boarding a WestJet flight. At least, that's what a passenger was told before boarding a plane Sunday.

Adhering to the airline's motto of being family friendly, a flight attendant wouldn't let the passenger board the flight wearing the shirt imprinted with the street sign "Ragged Ass Rd."

The attendant also wouldn't accept the man's explanation that it refers to the historic street in Yellowknife. The T-shirt is a popular souvenir of the city. The passenger, Ken Carson, was boarding the flight Sunday from Vancouver to Edmonton, according to the CBC.

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As a spokesperson for WestJet noted, the incident inevitably found its way to Twitter. But also keen to spread the word was the Northwest Territories tourism office and Yellowknife's mayor's office. They didn't want to complain. They wanted to publicize the event.

"It's 'How do we spin this positively? How do we get value out of it other than complaining?'" said Mayor Gordon Van Tighem by phone. Ragged Ass Road was a street inhabited by labourers who cut the wood for the boilers on barges, back in the day before Yellowknife could be reached by road, Mayor Van Tighem explained. It has since became a popular street sign, with replica signs and souvenir T-shirts sold to tourists.

The trouble is, WestJet may have already beat the tourist offices to the punch. The airline sent out a Twitter response and photo. Under the photo is a caption apologizing for the incident, but with a twist.

WestJet's response reads in part, "Check out what our president and [chief executive officer] Gregg Saretsky has had on his office door."

And the photo? It shows the WestJet president's door, which has had a Ragged Ass Road bumper sticker stuck to it for the last two years.

Editor's note: Ken Carson's first name has been corrected in the online version of this story.

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