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Southwest Employee Asked a Passenger to Show Proof Her Son Was Really Hers

Lindsay Gottlieb’s day started perfectly well as she finished coaching the women’s basketball team at University of California at Berkeley and then prepared to fly together with her son when they encountered a disturbing and unexpected situation at the Airport.

A Hurtful and Uncomfortable Interaction

Last Monday, Lindsay Gottlieb was checking in at Denver International Airport ticket counter when a Southwest Airline employee asked her to prove she’s the mother of her 1-year-old son. This happened even after she presented his passport. When Gottlieb insisted that her son’s information was already in the passport, the employee then asked for the son’s birth certificate. The personnel also cited that they had to follow protocol due to prevailing “federal laws.”

Gottlieb wrote on her Facebook post how she felt disrespected by the said interrogation. She emphasized that the employee could verify her son’s age and identity-based on his passport. Furthermore, both of his parents were present, so she couldn’t understand why she’s being interrogated to provide proofs to the employee

According to Gottlieb, the employee claimed her son had a different last name, and he was just concerned about her son’s well-being which prompted him to ask for further documentation. But Gottlieb didn’t believe his claim. If anything, she guessed that her son’s identity was questioned due to his different skin color.

She also claimed that a mother next to her said the same employee didn’t ask her for “proof” when she travels with her child, who also happens to have a different last name. However, the only difference was that the mother and her child were of the same race.

The Apology

Prior to the incident, Gottlieb revealed how her son flew frequently with her as she coaches the basketball team this season. She was appalled that after 50 times of flying together, this unfortunate incident had to happen with her son.

After Gottlieb reported her complaints on Twitter, the public immediately took notice of the incident and lamented the Airlines for their seemingly “demeaning and insensitive” behavior. The officials quickly apologized on behalf of their employees’ mistakes. They also told Gottlieb that the incident would serve as a “coaching lesson’ for their employees.

She and her fiance Patrick Martin welcomed their first child named Jordan Peter Martin last May

The Southwest Airlines also released a statement to address Gottlieb’s concerns and they also promised to conduct training in etiquette to their employees to ensure such a thing won’t happen again. It was never their intention to humiliate Gottlieb and her son in any way. The officials also explained Southwest’s policy of verifying children’s identities.

They said that lap children with ages below 2 years old are required to have their birth certificate reviewed, or any government-issued ID. However, they reiterated their employees weren’t required to match the last names of the child, as well as their parents or guardians when boarding on domestic flights.

A Learning Opportunity

Meanwhile, the Ambassadors International defended Southwest Airlines’ policy, stated they trained most crew members and flight attendants to help them fight against human and child trafficking, including document verification and inspecting physical appearance. While Nancy Rivard, the non-profit organization group’s founder, also extended her empathy to the family’s upsetting experience, she clarified that the Southwest Employee probably wasn’t trained that well.

Gottlieb said the recent incident made her realize what other interracial families might be suffering this kind of unfortunate questioning on a day-to-day basis

The female basketball coach also shared how the interrogation was an emotional and upsetting experience for her family. She emphasized that no one should be treated “less than others” on a daily basis. All families and its members should be treated with equal dignity and respect regardless of their age, gender, skin, and ethnic origin. She also hopes that her courage will serve as a learning opportunity for all Americans to break this type of unfair treatment and instead, have them all focus on promoting equality.

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