Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

It's rarely easy to fly with a child.

Please imagine, however, how Lindsay Gottlieb might have felt after flying with Southwest Airlines on Sunday from Denver to Oakland, California.

It's not often, after all, that you're asked to produce your 1-year-old's passport -- which proves to be not enough.

Instead, Gottlieb claims, she was asked by a ticket agent to show a Facebook post to prove her son was actually hers.

Now why might that have been? Because her son carries his dad's name, not Gottlieb's? 

Or could it have been something else? Gottlieb leans toward the something else:

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 has a different skin color.

Gottlieb is white. Her fiance, Patrick Martin, is black.

What else might the ticket agent have requested. Well, according to Gottlieb: 

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. 

Gottlieb has something of a public profile. She's the Cal women's basketball coach.

So her complaint found a wider audience. 

"I do feel like as a white female, with a position of privilege, and a platform where someone is going to listen, it is my responsibility to say, hey, this happened, this isn't okay," Gottlieb  told CBS San Francisco. "And maybe somewhere down the line, that helps my son, who is bi-racial and will be for his entire life."

I asked Southwest for its view. 

"We're looking into this specific interaction, and we have engaged with the customer directly to address her concerns. Our employees are well regarded for their hospitality and we always strive for the best experience for anyone who entrusts us with their travel," an airline spokesperson told me.

It's certainly true that Southwest has a far better reputation for customer service than most other airlines.

It does, though, only take one employee to put a dent in that image.

Indeed, today Starbucks is closing early to train its staff on unconscious racial bias, after two black men in Philadelphia, who were in a Starbucks for a business meeting, were removed -- at the white Starbucks manager's request -- from the store.

It's surely no wonder that, if Gottlieb's depiction is accurate, she might have found the ticket agent's attitude demeaning and more.

Some, though, may find it difficult to conceive that they'd be asked for a Facebook post to prove that their child is theirs.

Are we going to enter a world in which Facebook represents some sort of proof of our lives? 

For many, it's quite the opposite. It's a fine way of faking who we really are. 

Published on: May 29, 2018