A mother has called out a Southwest Airlines staffer by name after he allegedly “yelled at” her and her son as she took him to board his first flight alone.
Tanya Kara, from Orange County, California, took to Twitter to criticise the gate agent’s behaviour at Tampa airport on Sunday.
“@SouthwestAir shame on you,” she wrote in a furious thread about the incident.
@SouthwestAir shame on you. My 13 y o son was flying alone for his first time due the holidays and gate agent Samuel @ @FlyTPA flt 2675 to DC refused to let him on during family boarding and yelled at my son to get back in line. Here’s a video when i asked his last name pic.twitter.com/ht7GVPCSAJ
— Tanya Kara (@TanyaKara) November 20, 2022
“My 13 [year old] son was flying alone for his first time due the holidays and gate agent Samuel @FlyTPA [flight] 2675 to DC refused to let him on during family boarding and yelled at my son to get back in line.”
“Here’s a video when I asked his last name,” she added, posting a clip of a surly man at the gate telling her, “You don’t get my last name”.
In the video Ms Kara tells the gate agent she “doesn’t appreciate” him yelling at her as her son tried to board the plane.
Writing on Twitter, the mother added that the issue seemed to be that her son was aged 13, and that Southwest deems “family boarding” for families with children aged under six years old.
She claims her son tried to board a flight he was travelling on alone, but was shouted at as he was too old to board first.
Ms Kara went on to say the agent “continued to tell me to KICK ROCKS in front of other passengers.
“This is unacceptable in front of my 13 year old son. He claimed family boarding was six and under and my 13-year-old couldn’t board during that time.”
Ms Kara added that another staff member appeared more sympathetic and eventually helped her son board the flight.
“The lady at the counter at [gate] c31 couldn’t believe he wouldn’t let [my] 13 year old on so she took my son’s pass and personally walked him on and made sure Samuel let him on. Samuel didn’t even look at us and just let him on,” she wrote.
She added that she had spoken to a supervisor after her son had boarded his flight, but was hurt to see airline employees discussing and laughing at her situation.
“@SouthwestAir employee suggested I speak to a supervisor. When supervisor Adrien came I told him what happened. I stayed behind crying calling my husband and I saw them talking and LAUGHING about my situation because they didn’t know I was there! Shame on you,” she wrote on Twitter.
A Southwest representative replied to Ms Kara’s tweets, saying, “We regret the disappointing boarding experience for your son’s first time flying alone, and if the Customer Service provided today fell short of expectations.” They encouraged her to directly message them so they can investigate the incident.
The Independent has approached Southwest Airlines for comment.
In a follow-up tweet, Ms Kara clarified the issue with Southwest’s unaccompanied minor rules: “To help all the parents out there. If your kid is 12+ they are expected to be all alone throughout the travel process,” she wrote.
“Southwest gives zero accommodations. My son flew American in August and they allowed me to pay a fee so he can be accompanied. Never again Southwest for us!”
Last month a mother complained that her 11-year-old had been unexpectedly denied boarding on a Jetstar flight, and left at the airport.
Jack Garland was due to travel with his 13-year-old sister Scarlett from Sydney to the Gold Coast when the incident happened.
“It was one of the most horrendous days of our lives as a family,” Ms Garland told Australia’s Today Show, describing the incident as a “parent’s worst nightmare”.