Southwest wouldn't let mixed-race family fly until mom "proved" parenthood

Last Monday, UC Berkeley woman's basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb and her fiance Patrick Martin tried to board a Southwest flight with their one year old, biracial son; they presented the check-in clerk with their son's passport, but the clerk refused to let them fly until she showed the clerk Facebook posts or a birth certificate to prove that she was her son's mother.

The employee manufactured a nonexistent "federal law" to justify their demand. Southwest later apologized to the family "if our interaction made this family uncomfortable." They say that they'll use this as a "coaching" moment to train staff on racial sensitivity.

Officials added that Southwest's policy is to verify that lap children are younger than 2 by reviewing a birth certificate or government-issued ID, and that employees aren't required to match the last names of a child and guardian on domestic flights.

Gottlieb said the incident made her aware that the sort of questioning she experienced was probably common among nonwhite families.

"While it was upsetting and emotional, I realize that this was just one day of my life where I was uncomfortable and our family was made to feel 'less than' whereas others face similar situations on a daily basis," she said. "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."

A white woman was flying with her biracial son. Southwest asked for 'proof' she was his mother. [Marwa Eltagouri/Washington Post]

(via Naked Capitalism)