Southwest Airlines apologized Tuesday to California women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb after she claimed an airline employee stopped her from boarding because the worker didn’t believe her 1-year-old biracial son was hers.
A desk agent questioned Gottlieb ahead of a flight from Denver to Oakland on Sunday, saying she “had to ‘prove’ that he was my son, despite having his passport,” Gottlieb said in a series of tweets.
“She said because we have different last name. My guess is because he has a different skin color,” Gottlieb said Monday in the first of several tweets on the matter. She was traveling with her fiance, Patrick Martin, the boy’s father, who is black.
@SouthwestAir 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 different last name. My guess is because he has a different skin color.— Lindsay Gottlieb (@CalCoachG) May 28, 2018
@SouthwestAir she 1st asked for proof with birth certificate. She then said it’s a “federal law” (not true) but asked me to prove I’m mother with Facebook post.What??Mother next to me said she’s never been asked for proof despite diff last name..not shockingly, not mixed face fam— Lindsay Gottlieb (@CalCoachG) May 28, 2018
We are fine. It was wild, but, I fear, much more common for people that don’t look like me 😢— Lindsay Gottlieb (@CoachLindsayG) May 29, 2018
Airlines aren’t required to match the last name of a child and guardian for domestic flights.
“We have reached out to Ms. Gottlieb directly to address her concerns and will utilize the situation as a coaching opportunity for our Employee,” Southwest said in a statement. “We apologize if our interaction made this family uncomfortable — that is never our intention.”
Gottlieb said Tuesday that the encounter was hurtful, but she appreciates Southwest’s apology.
“I felt that in this situation it was my responsibility to say ‘Hey, this isn’t OK,’ ” Gottlieb said in a statement to the Associated Press. “I hope the coverage this has received can serve as a learning opportunity and that all families — regardless of how ‘traditional’ they may or may not look — are treated with dignity and respect.”
Gottlieb, Martin and their child eventually were allowed to board.