Southwest wouldn't let mixed-race family fly until mom "proved" parenthood

A passport includes date of birth and is an official government ID. That should have been the end of the story. Most people use a birth certificate or naturalization certificate in order to get a passport, so having one implies the other exists.

Also, if they wanted proof he was her son they could look at their eyes. Jesus.


Must be a Southwest policy then ‘cause it’s surely not the law.

The funny thing about guardianship is that there is no official document for proving “I am this kid’s legal guardian” unless the kid is adopted or there was a custody battle. If you’re just the kid’s natural parent, having a birth certificate or passport is credible evidence, but it’s not proof.


What do Facebook pictures have to do with verifying age? That was rhetorical, they have nothing to do with verifying age.

The latter, and the commenters overlooking the blatant bigotry of demanding the parents demonstrate that the kid was theirs by ponying up Facebook pictures are ignoring their own biases in selectively reading the story to support their probably not racist narrative. I get it, they don’t want to believe racists walk among us, it’s a shitty truth, but as the targets non-whites can’t ignore the racists and when the deniers choose not to see the uncomfortable reality, they’re gas-lighting the the people who deal with it every damn day. This is why you end up with non-whites catching racists on camera going see, they’re real about something that should be plain to see to everyone.


And? Why should mixed-race couples have to prove parentage at all to use an airline?


If Southwest airlines were serious about aviation safety they would be requiring that every non-secured object over 100 grams or so be in the overhead locker or under the seat in front. That lap child is going to be a missile in a crash, and a dead one at that.


Odds of dying in a plane crash: one in 11 million

Odds of dying in a car crash: one in 5,000

Anyone serious about safety is going to have a long walk to the airport.

Risk analysis: not really humanity’s forte.

Incidentally, it wasn’t clear if you we’re being sarcastic. Possible Poe’s Law incident, but replying to what you said as if it was meant serious.


Risk analysis: not really humanity’s forte.

Well yeah thats true. We used to let our kids sit in the back seat without restraints, now we know better, so we use child seats. Aircraft seat belts don’t even work properly for adults if a window pops open. To restrain a child properly you really need a seat belt designed for the purpose.

Not sure about your numbers though. Are they per unit distance, or per unit time? The car crash one seems wrong. If true I would have died years ago (on the 50th percentile, anyway).

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Oh, I’m not saying they should (or any more than anyone else should). I’m just saying that if you’re an entity trying to establish someone’s guardianship, there’s not really a legally clearcut way to do that.

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Actual safety measures - as opposed to security theater like the TSA which just burdens us to make rubes feel safer - are a trade-off between effectiveness and the cost/effort to implement them. The safest thing to do is never leave the house, but most people recognize the absurdity of going to that length to avoid risk. For example, armored cockpit doors are a relatively low-cost/low-effort way to make commercial aircraft much safer. Demanding every object over a 100 grams remain secured throughout a flight would be a huge hassle, and putting little kids in secure seats and trying to get them not to cry or demand to sit a parent’s lap would be a nightmare for everyone involved including the other passengers.

Now, and I’m not assuming you do, but obviously you or any other person are free to consider that headache worth the minute reduction is risk in the extremely unlikely event of a plane crash times the extremely unlikely event of surviving the plane crash when it does occur. But I’d wager you take much greater risks every day for far less savings in cost and effort.

Here are some data…

ETA: One interesting thing is that health factors are far more likely to kill you than moving vehicle accidents. But Americans notoriously disregard their health.

Okay, thanks for clarifying.

Agreed. All the more reason gatekeepers shouldn’t be given the latitude to try.

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Well yeah I am more at risk from a heart attack than anything else, so I ride a bike to work, taking a calculated risk.


We were told to bring birth certificates when our kids were lap child age. I have been trying to think of a way these checks could prove useful, but I just don’t think they are. The only thing I can think of is infant abduction, which is rare and usually easy to catch without these checks.

But I did also consider the people from Idaho who tried to get 33 kids out of Haiti, and I did think about the cult here in NC that was bringing Brazilian kids in and enslaving them. Food for thought.


except they don’t know what a passport is?

OR, maybe they’re just racists


Asking for a Facebook post is weird. Also troubling is the fact that she says she has flown “50 times” with the one year old. That has to be tough on the kid.

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Demanding a birth certificate but not accepting a passport is just dumb. Asking for Facebook pictures is racist. If all the clerk had done is insist on the birth certificate and not accept the passport and they do that for everyone, it would still be dumb, but it wouldn’t be racist. Asking for Facebook pictures is clearly about discriminating against a mixed race family and the clerk is definitely racist.

It’s racial discrimination.

I find it curious that people who’ve dealt with the birth certificate requirement policy are eliding the demand for Facebook pictures and assuming they have more insight into the event than the family that was actually there to experience the discrimination.


That all may very well be the case. It also may be the case that the Southwest employee actually thought they were being helpful to the family, and that asking for a “second form of ID” in the form of social media evidence of kinship, was actually less of an asshole thing to do than deny them the ability to fly, because their policy is to accept birth certificates, but not passports.

I definitely respect the family’s perspective on the incident, and again, there is absolutely the chance that this went down the way it did because of racism. But fact is, it seems very difficult to gauge for us, just as it may even be for the people who were involved.

dons flame-retardant suit

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I’m not going to flame you, Nicky.

But I trust the account of the family and they believed they were being discriminated against. That said, at least you gave a possible (though in my view unlikely) explanation for the Facebook picture request. Others seem intent on just ignoring it an addressing the birth certificate requirement.

Mostly I just don’t see any reason the clerk would value family pictures over a government-issued passport if they weren’t scrutinizing the family because they were suspicious of a mixed-race family.


Oh come on — think back on your life. I know you’re a well-educated scientist, but surely you must have experienced some really innocently idiotic behavior from automatons who work within large organizations, and don’t always possess common sense. I’ve witnesses it… countless times?

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I don’t think my profession is relevant, but per you’re other point, what I’ve learned is that racists are all over the place when one begins looking for them, and that’s for me a white guy who isn’t inundated with racism or the target of it, so rationally if anything I’m underestimating its prevalence.

The family was there. From your comment, you seem to be able to tell when someone is merely being a jobsworth and when someone is actively singling someone out for discrimination for whatever reason. Generally so can I, which is why I trust that this family can as well and that their account of being discriminated against is something I should believe them about.

It’s not about outrage at the clerk. I really don’t give a crap about them. It’s about believing marginalized people when they report discrimination.