Southwest apologizes after Cal coach says airline asked her to prove that biracial son was hers

Cal women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb says that Southwest Airlines asked her to prove that her one-year-old biracial son was hers before allowing her to board a flight on Monday.

Gottlieb, who is white, says the ticket agent claimed that the request for proof was because her son, Jordan Gottlieb Martin, has a different name. She suspects it was because her son has a different skin color than her.

Airlines not required by law to match parents, children by name

Gottlieb tweeted that the ticket agent cited federal law in asking for proof. Airlines are not required to match the names of parents and children for domestic flights. Gottlieb was traveling from Denver to Oakland. She, her son and fiancé, Jordan’s father, eventually made their flight.

Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb suspects that a Southwest Airlines ticket agent asked for proof that her son was hers because she is white and he is biracial. (AP)

Southwest apologizes

Gottlieb tweeted her complaints at Southwest, which released a statement and an apology for the incident.

“We have reached out to Ms. Gottlieb directly to address her concerns and will utilize the situation as a coaching opportunity for our employee,” the statement reads. “We apologize if our interaction made this family uncomfortable — that is never our intention. Our employees are well-regarded for their hospitality, and we always strive for the best experience for anyone who entrusts us with their family’s travel.”

Southwest also cited company policy regarding traveling with young children.

“Southwest Airlines’ policy is to verify lap children are younger than the age of two by reviewing a birth certificate or government issued identification. Certain international locations require us to verify additional paperwork for those traveling with a minor. Domestic travel does not require carriers to match last names of a child and guardian.”

A Southwest web page titled “Baby on Board” states that a “birth certificate is required to validate the age of all infants under age two.”

Gottlieb told the Associated Press that she hopes that her story will provide a learning experience.

“I felt that in this situation it was my responsibility to say ‘Hey, this isn’t OK,'” Gottlieb said in a statement. “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.”

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