While boarding a Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Oakland, University of California women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb, her fiancé Patrick Martin and their one-year-old son Jordan Peter Martin were stopped by a desk agent who demanded that they prove the child was theirs. In viral tweets, Gottlieb wrote, “She said because we have a different last name. My guess is because he has a different skin color.”
According to an interview with The Washington Post, Gottlieb claims she provided her son’s passport, but the desk agent stated it was “federal law” to ask for more documentation when the baby’s last name does not match the mother’s. Gottlieb claims that the agent suggested she could prove she was the child’s mother with a Facebook post.
Gottlieb told The Post, “We had a passport that verified our son’s age and identity, and both parents were present. But still being pushed further to ‘prove’ that he was my son felt disrespectful and motivated by more than just concern for his well-being.” The family was eventually allowed to board.
Gottlieb complained to Southwest on Twitter, calling the experience “demeaning and insensitive.” See some of the tweets below:
@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
The Associated Press confirmed, “Airlines aren’t required to match the last name of a child and guardian for domestic flights.”
Southwest Airlines has apologized and released the following statement, “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.”