Southwest Airlines has apologized after a gate agent reportedly mocked the name of a passenger’s 5-year-old daughter a few weeks ago. The girl’s name is spelled “Abcde” but is pronounced “Ab-city.”
The mother, Traci Redford, told ABC7 that she and Abcde were traveling through John Wayne Airport when the gate agent apparently spotted her daughter’s name on a boarding pass, laughed at them and took a photo of the pass to put on social media.
“The gate agent started laughing, pointing at me and my daughter, talking to other employees. 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.’
“While I was sitting there, she took a picture of my boarding pass and chose to post it on social media, mocking my daughter. It was actually brought to my attention by somebody who had seen it on Facebook and reported it to Southwest Airlines. And after two weeks of doing a formal complaint, Southwest hadn’t done anything.”
Southwest provided the following statement to the outlet:
We extend our sincere apology to the family. We take great pride in extending our Southwest Hospitality to all of our Customers, which includes living by the Golden Rule and treating every individual with respect, in person or online. 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.
The employee who allegedly posted the photo did not respond to ABC7's request for comment. Abcde has epilepsy, so she and her mother were pre-boarding.
Buzzfeed, which also picked up the story, notes that there are actually over 300 people in the U.S. named “Abcde.” From the story:
After the name made headlines from that story in 2014, Vocativ reported there were 328 people named Abcde in the United States, almost all of whom are children.
The name has become something of an urban legend on the Bump, a pregnancy forum, with a number of moms claiming to have actually met children named Abcde in real life. Several posts on the site have dubbed it one of the “worst names ever.”