Mom Of Teenager Traveling Alone Calls Out Southwest Airlines For Abrasive Treatment

A mother took to Twitter to call out Southwest Airlines for their treatment of her young teenager traveling solo for the first time. She claims a Southwest gate agent yelled at her 13 year old son because he wasn’t following proper boarding procedure – that he was yelled at for queueing up during ‘family boarding’.

On Southwest the order in which you board determines when you’ll be able to choose your seat. It’s catch as catch can, rather than assigned seating. So boarding early – earlier than the number on your boarding pass – is a real benefit if you want an aisle, a window, or a seat closer to the front.

In the video the mother posts she can be heard complaining to the agent that he yelled at her (rather than at her son). And the video doesn’t show any actual yelling.

Southwest Airlines family boarding is for families with children 6 or younger. Unaccompanied minor service is only available up to age 11, unlike some airlines it isn’t optional for children older than that. A 13 year old is treated as any other passenger on Southwest.

She says another agents helped the child onto the plane early, even though that wasn’t proper procedure. So they got something they weren’t entitled to.

The mother says she was being laughed at by employees, which isn’t great customer service if true. But she was standing far away based on the photos, so she may not know what was actually being said, and the employees might reasonably have been uncomfortable over the whole situation, too.

The woman’s twitter account identifies herself as ‘building a social media business’ and what better way than going to social media to complain about an airline’s treatment of a child?

If an airline gate agent yelled at a 13 year old in the absence of appalling behavior, or threat to safety, I’d be concerned. Here the child was accompanied by their mother. Taking a firm tone with her, when not following boarding instructions, doesn’t seem nearly as out of line.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. As an unaccompanied child why wasnt the boy escorted on to the plane by a flight attendant, which seems to be the policy on UA and AA?
    There are so many early boarding categories one wonders whether any passengers ever board at the normal time.

  2. Unaccompanied child are only escorted on the plane by an FA when the parent is paying a UM fee. In this case it would seem the mom got a gate pass to walk the child to the gate and didn’t pay an fee. In short, this child was flying like any other adult.

  3. She didn’t get her child there ahead of boarding and then tried to circumvent the rules. She cries because oh well things didn’t go her way. I hate this culture of women and yeah Samuel sure told her lol

  4. Our mentally challenged son often flies unaccompanied to visit other family members and Southwest gate agents and FAs are always kind and helpful. As a result, he has the freedom to be more independent and proud of his ability to spend time with other family members when we can’t make the trip. Thank you Southwest for giving him this joy and independence.

  5. It’s suspicious that her video only shows him refusing to give his last name and cuts off right when he’s about to respond to her allegation that he yelled at her son. I bet he said something that undermines or even contradicts the tale she’s telling now on SM. As other commenters have pointed out, she looks like another Karen in the wild.

  6. LMAO , she didn’t want to pay the UMNR fee . FYI fa’s don’t walk the UM down the agents do, or the wheelchair people.

  7. Another parent just wanting to brag about their child traveling alone Yet leave out all the details of how They treat airline employees like Crap…

  8. A pathetic example of what happens with parents who then go ahead to raise their children with a sense of entitlement and rules don’t matter to US. And btw, 13 year olds these days are pretty damn smart, typically have good hearing and know damn well how this is played if they aren’t informed at the gate how SWA operates. And am I to understand this began in a FL airport? If so no surprise. So many issues begin in FL don’t they? Must be the heat/sun. And I think someone else pointed out mama could have hung out long enough to make sure her little darling got on board the right way….

  9. The attitude of the SWA agent isn’t surprising as Southwest Airlines has lost their way. But the Mom in this case shouldn’t expect her son to family board either. Both parties could have handled it much better. But the attitude of the agent just reinforces my decision to completely avoid Southwest post-covid era.

  10. Her kid is 13 yrs old in 7th or 8th Grade? Is he that STUID he can not walk onto a plane and find a seat? But can make it in middle school going from classroom to classroom? does Mommie change his underpants for him too? The kid can master a iphone but can not find a 1 of 147 seats on a plane. ony

  11. Samuel needs to learn the proper verbiage. It’s “pound sand.”
    not “kick rocks.”

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