Airline Apologizes for Name Shaming Child, But Public Blames the Mom

Southwest Airlines offered an apology to the mother of a child she says was the target of name shaming by an airline staffer.

The mother of a 5-year-old said a gate agent mocked the child’s name. On top of that, she says the employee  even posted a photo of the child’s boarding pass on social media.

The child’s first name is Abcde, pronounced “AB-si-dee,” according to The Washington Post.

The angry mom told ABC News that the gate agent started laughing, pointing at them, and talking to other employees about the child’s name.

“So I turned around and said, ‘Hey, if I can hear you, my daughter can hear you, so I’d appreciate if you’d just stop,’”

The incident allegedly took place at John Wayne Airport in California, as the mother and daughter boarded a flight to their home state of Texas.

Yes, Abcde, no matter how you choose to pronounce it, is an unusual name.

But that’s hardly the point.

I’ve seen quite a few responses to the story across social media that lays solid blame at the mother, not the alleged name-shamers.

A good portion of respondents claim the mother “should have known” that her child would be the victim of name-shaming because she selected the first five letters of the alphabet as a real name.

Some say the mother should even have “expected” such a reaction.

Granted, in this day and age, civility and common courtesy have all but disappeared. From that particular perspective, maybe it is reasonable to expect some degree of name shaming. 

It does not change the fact, however, that the person who was name-shamed in this incident was a five-year-old girl. A child who common sense would suggest couldn’t possibly have chosen the unique name for herself.

Even if she chooses, when she turns 18, to legally change her name to something others might not wish to make fun of, it’s those others, not the child, who have the real problem.

The airline won’t comment on any specific actions taken against the accused employee.

But seriously: Who does that?

Who makes fun of a child in front of her mother? Whether it was a name, an outfit or a physical disability, why would anyone think that it was acceptable? Or, for that matter, given the number of incidences in which similar social media posts have cost mocking employees their jobs, why would anyone possibly think they could post a photo of a child’s boarding pass and think no one would find out?

There’s decency and there’s common sense.

If the accusations are correct, this particular employee seems to have lacked both in this particular incident.

You don’t blame a parent for that.

1 Comment

  1. No. *i* have an unusual name, that in its appearance, looks unpronounceable. But its pronunciation is quite simple, once given: ash-lin[g] – with a hard ‘g’, like ‘gate’. Most of the time, it reiceves compliments. This name, Abcde, is what I would call a curse.

    However, I would never point and laugh. It would not have occurred to me. I will honestly admit that my first question would, after reading it, be “is this correct?” Then I would politely inquire of its pronunciation and background, because I’m always interested to know. I might roll my eyes in private, but never in view of anyone. And, yes, I would not have waited a moment after turning 17 (in New Jersey, when I was that age) to have run out and changed it.

    Where this employee had the nerve to react in so unprofessional a manner…I’d not have hesitated to make him a former employee. Just like that.

    I admit – and this is a huge admission for me – I changed my name years ago. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with it. I just never liked it. I always had nicknames. When I was in my 20s, I cobbled up money, including the $1,000 cheque my parents gave for this purpose, and went through the months-long process of legally changing my name. I changed my first name to one I read about in a Gaelic book, dropped the middle name completely, and changed my last name to that of the man who raised me, not the absentee one.

    At the time, I did not think overly hard on the why, but I have no regrets. However, I do know the “why” now, and have for a long time. In 1981, when I was 13, we moved from Wellington, New Jersey to Wayne, a very wealthy area. Unknown to me, I have Asberger’s Syndrome. To say I didn’t fit in is an understatement. I was seriously abused from the 8th grade straight through to graduation. But that abuse made me a very strong, very assertive person, not at all the shy introvert I once was. Years after, when my father asked why I changed my name, I replied, that I killed the other person to become this one.” An unusual answer, I grant you, but that person no longer exists, no matter who really did it.

    And that stands to this day.

    But you are right, for anyone who represents a company to shame anything or anyone, is a disgusting individual. He should be fired – after a public shaming.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.