Southwest apologizes after woman says she was asked to ‘prove’ biracial son was hers

Twitter/Lindsey Gottlieb

Southwest Airlines apologized Tuesday after a woman was confronted at the Denver airport by an employee who allegedly questioned whether she was the mother of her mixed-race son before she could board a flight.

Lindsay Gottlieb, the women’s basketball coach at the University of California, Berkley, said she was stopped by a Southwest employee on Sunday and asked to “prove” that her year-old son was really hers.

She took to Twitter later Sunday night to complain about the incident in a series of posts. 

“I’m appalled that after approx 50 times flying with my 1-year-old son ticket counter personnel told me that I had to ‘prove’ that he was my son despite having his passport,” Gottlieb tweeted. “She said we have a different last name. My guess is because he has a different skin color.” 


Gottlieb, who is white, gave birth to Jordan, whose father is black, in May 2017. The child and his mother have often traveled together, sometimes flying Southwest Airlines, with the California basketball team this past year, a local CBS affiliate reported.

“She 1st asked for proof with a birth certificate,” Gottlieb tweeted. “She then said it was a ‘federal law’ but asked me to prove I was the mother with a Facebook post. What?? The mother next to me said she’s never been asked for proof diff last name…not shockingly, not mixed face family.”

“I do feel like as a white female, with a position of privilege, and a platform where someone is going to listen, it is my responsibility to say, hey, this happened, this isn’t OK,” Gottlieb told KPIX 5 in San Francisco.

“And maybe somewhere down the line, that helps my son, who is biracial and will be for his entire life.”

The airline apologized in statement reported by the CBS affiliate, saying it would be launching an investigation into the incident. 

“We’re looking into this specific interaction, and we have engaged with the customer directly to address her concerns,” the airline 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.”

Tags Racism Southwest Airlines

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