In Depth

Southwest Airlines apologises for mocking child called Abcde

Five-year-old's mother alleges gate agent took picture of daughter's boarding pass to share online

A woman in the US has claimed her daughter was laughed at by airline staff on social media for her unusual name.

The girl, who has the unique moniker Abcde – pronounced “Ab-city” – was flying with her mum Traci Redford from John Wayne International Airport in Orange County, Florida to El Paso, Texas earlier this month when the incident happened.

On boarding the plane a gate agent allegedly began “laughing and took a photo of the child's boarding pass and posted it online”, reports the BBC.

Redford told Fox News she could see the employee holding the boarding pass, pointing at the name on the ticket and then pointing at the family and laughing. Redford’s daughter eventually noticed the mocking.

“If they were picking on me, I wouldn’t care as much. But it’s my five-year-old; she’s helpless in this situation. She asked me, ‘Mom why is she laughing at my name?’ And I said, ‘You know, honey, not everyone is nice and not everyone is going to be nice and it’s unfortunate,’” Redford said.

Airline spokesperson Chris Mainz offered the family a “sincere apology”.

“The post is not indicative of the care, respect, and civility we expect from all of our employees. We have followed up with the employee involved, and while we do not disclose personnel actions publicly, we are using this as an opportunity to reinforce our policies and emphasize our expectations for all employees,” he said.

But Redford told broadcaster ABC7 that the airline “hadn't done anything” for two weeks after she had filed a formal complaint.

According to Vocativ, a news and data website, in 2014 there were at that time 328 children in the US named “Abcde” going by the Social Security Administration database.

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