Southwest: Here's $150, Forgive Us For Suspecting Your Baby Was 2

Southwest sent out a peace offering to Kris, the woman who was reduced to tears when a Southwest check-in agent stopped her from bringing her 7-month infant onto the plane because she couldn’t prove his age.

Kris’s haul: a $150 voucher which she grudgingly accepts.

Southwest wrote Kris:

Dear Kris,

We received your e-mail and appreciate your sharing your experience at our Raleigh-Durham Station on October 18 and providing us the opportunity to respond to your concerns. I apologize for our tardy reply.

Southwest Airlines has long been recognized for the high caliber of its Employees, and we take feedback regarding Southwest Employees’ conduct very seriously. In light of your assertions, we requested information directly from our Raleigh-Durham Customer Service Agent with whom you likely interacted since you did not provide us with a name. (This is the Employee who is noted in your reservation record as having checked in your luggage at the ticket counter.) Unfortunately, this Customer Service Agent reports that she does not recall a situation such as this occurring. While we are unable to comment on the dialogue between you and our Employee, please know that your concerns about this situation have been heard, and we have shared your letter with the Customer Service Agent’s Leaders.

You are correct that it is the airline’s policy to ask that a ticket be purchased if someone occupies a seat. However, it is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulation (Federal Regulation 121.311 – Seats, Seatbelts and Shoulder Harnesses) that requires that children age two and older occupy their own seats. So, if a parent presents a child without a birth certificate, our Agent has to determine (without a doubt) that the child has not reached his/her second birthday.

Quite frankly, not all of our Employees are parents and some find it more difficult to determine if the child is more than or less than two years old.

If a child is under two, the FAA allows them to travel on an adult’s lap as a “lap child.” If we cannot determine the age of the child and there is no proof of age at hand, then we ask that the parent purchase a ticket for the child in order to ensure he/she has a seat on which to travel and then the parent can mail in proof of age along with the ticket receipt to our Refunds Department, and we will refund the ticket after travel. I apologize if this option was not offered to you.

When a Customer books directly at (as [redacted] did in your case), we have information concerning travel with a lap child posted on our web site. On the initial booking screen, some pertinent Southwest policies are highlighted to the right of the screen including a link to one that says “Traveling with Toddlers and Infants.” It’s also accessible on our home page by choosing Travel Tools>Southwest Policies>Traveling with Children. Nevertheless, we are sorry that you were caught unaware.

As a tangible expression of our r egret for your experience, we are issuing you a $150.00 Southwest LUV Voucher (SLV) that is equivalent to your roundtrip fare. I sincerely hope you will accept our apologies and move beyond this discouraging incident as I know that more positive experiences await you on Southwest. Please keep the door open to Southwest as it would be a privilege to serve your future travel needs.


Laura, Southwest Airlines

Kris writes:

After my last experience with them, I am not in a rush to travel with them, especially with a baby. I found it interesting that they talked to the gate agent I checked in with. Of course she is going to say she doesn’t remember the incident. It happened so long ago she probably doesn’t.

This email made me pretty angry at first, I felt like they were talking down to me and treating me like a crazy lady. I was angry when they justified the agent giving me a hassle because not all their agents have kids so they have a hard time knowing how old they are. You have to be a huge idiot to see a baby that can’t sit up by themselves with no teeth and think the kid could be over two. I was angry, but now i am just glad to have the voucher, I think me and my son will take a trip to grandma’s house. With his birth
certificate of course.

Parents, take this as a reminder to bring your kid’s birth certificate, and check-in folk, try to use a little common sense.

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