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Airline In Hot Water After Demanding Mother with Biracial Son Prove They Were Related

Airline security checkpoints seem to be increasingly growing tighter, but sometimes what happens is just plain ridiculous. Cal women's basketball coach was traveling with her one-year-old son, and she was stopped before boarding her flight.

The staff wanted her to prove the child was her son, despite the fact that she had his passport.

Coach Lindsay Gottlieb was traveling from Denver, Colorado to Oakland, California with her infant son in tow. The busy working mother says that she was stopped at the gate by Southwestern Airlines employees, alleging that the University of California, Berkeley coach was trying to pull a fast one.

Airline crew thought that her baby wasn't really her child because her son is biracial and the mother/son didn’t look enough alike for their satisfaction. The mother presented her passports, but the ticketing agents demanded even more proof.

“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 was a different skin color," Gottlieb tweeted.

The coach continued, "@SouthwestAir she 1st asked for proof with birth certificate. She then said it’s a “federal law” (not true) but asked me to prove I’m mother with Facebook post.What??Mother next to me said she’s never been asked for proof despite diff last name..not shockingly, not mixed face fam."

Passports aren't usually required for domestic flights, but Gottlieb and her son's father were both present and presented the documentation as proof. The coach said she felt that the request was not just about her son's well-being, though, and the exchange was disrespectful.

"While it was upsetting an emotional, I realize this was just one day of my life where I was uncomfortable and our family was made to feel 'less than' whereas others face similar situations on a daily basis. 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 coach said.

Southwest has since reached out to apologize to Gottlieb and her family, and they say they're investigating the situation.

“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 told the Associated Press that she appreciates that the airline reached out to her, but she felt a responsibility to share the story.

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

Few people think ahead that they’ll need to provide a family album or history just to board an airplane. What's the next step? Requiring a DNA test at the gate?

Source: Boston
Photos: Lindsay Gottlieb/Twitter, KPIX 5

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