A California college basketball coach says a Southwest Airlines staffer crossed the line in questioning her relationship to her 1-year-old biracial son.
Lindsay Gottlieb, the head coach of UC Berkeley’s women’s basketball team, says she was trying to board a flight in Denver on Sunday when a Southwest agent challenged her maternity.
“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,” Gottlieb, 40, said in a Twitter post Monday.
“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 (race) fam,” Gottlieb tweeted.
Gottlieb is white while her fiancé Patrick Martin, the father of her son, is black.
She called the incident “demeaning and insensitive” in another tweet and said she would have missed her flight back home to Oakland, Calif., if not for a delay.
There is no federal law requiring parents to travel with their baby’s birth certificate.
On its website, Southwest says a birth certificate is required to validate the age of all children under two.
It does not state that a birth certificate is needed to prove maternity and makes no mention of social media being an acceptable form of proof.
After Gottlieb tagged Southwest in her twitter posts, a rep for the airline tweeted back.
“Hi, Lindsay. We’re disheartened to learn of your experience as this doesn’t sound typical. Do you mind following up with your confirmation number in a DM, so we can address accordingly?” the representative wrote.
The airline also issued a statement.
“We’re looking into this specific interaction, and we have engaged with the customer directly to address her concerns,” the statement said. “Our employees are well regarded for their hospitality and we always strive for the best experience for anyone who entrusts us with their travel.”
Speaking to KPIX 5 in San Francisco, Gottlieb said she decided to speak up to raise awareness and hopefully prevent similar encounters in the future.
“I’m emotionally sort of drained from it, and this is one day in my life,” she said.