Southwest Apologizes to Mom Asked to 'Prove' Biracial Baby Was Hers Before Boarding Flight
UC Berkeley women's basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb was "appalled" by the airline's line of questioning on a recent flight with her 1-year-old
Southwest Airlines has apologized after an employee asked a mother to prove her biracial son was hers before boarding a flight with the baby.
University of California Berkeley women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb tweeted at the airline after an experience she described as “demeaning and insensitive.”
“I’m appalled that after approx 50 times flying with my 1 year old son, ticket counter personnel told me I had to ‘prove’ that he was my son, despite having his passport. She said because we have a different last name. My guess is because he has different skin color,” Gottlieb wrote, addressing the airline on Twitter.
Gottlieb details that the employee first asked for the baby’s birth certificate, then to see a Facebook post of the mother and child as proof of their relationship before being allowed to board a flight from Denver to Oakland, California, on Sunday. She also points out that another mother on the plane whose baby has a different last name told her that she’d never been asked to prove her baby was hers. “Not shockingly, not a mixed race fam,” Gottleib said. The coach’s fiance, Patrick Martin, who is black, was also traveling with them, according to the Associated Press.
Southwest issued an apology to the family. “We have reached out to Ms. Gottlieb directly to address her concerns and will utilize the situation as a coaching opportunity for our Employee. We apologize if our interaction made this family uncomfortable — that is never our intention,” the airline said in a statement, according to AP.
Twitter users weighed in on both sides of the issue — expressing support for Gottlieb and the Southwest agent. Model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen, who shares two children with husband John Legend, commented that she has had similar experiences.
“Airlines have asked this of me, too, with my daughter,” Teigen writes. “Once I learned it’s a precaution for the very real threat of child trafficking, I stopped being exasperated with it. Now I’m kind of worried when they don’t ask.” She also notes that she now carries a “file folder of papers” when she travels with her kids, daughter Luna, 2, and son Miles, 2 weeks.