According to TIME, Lindsay Gottlieb claims a desk agent questioned her before her flight from Denver to Oakland, saying she “had to ‘prove’ that he was my son, despite having his passport.”
“She said because we have different last names. My guess is because he has a different skin color,” Gottlieb tweeted. The woman was traveling with her fiancé, Patrick Martin, who’s black and the boys father.
The site also reported that airlines don’t have to match the last name of a child and guardian for domestic flights.
“We have reached out to Ms. Gottlieb directly to address her concerns and will utilize the situation as a coaching opportunity for our employee,” Southwest said in a statement. “We apologize if our interaction made this family uncomfortable — that is never our intention.”
Gottlieb said the situation was hurtful but she appreciates the apology.
“I felt that in this situation it was my responsibility to say ‘Hey, this isn’t ok,’” Gottlieb said in a statement to The Associated Press. “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.”
The couple was eventually allowed to board in the end.