Airline staff mock parent's child for unusual name

Airline staff mock parent's child for unusual name

The employee took her unprofessional behaviour one step further by posting the mum's boarding pass on social media...

Parents nowadays want to choose a unique, cool name for their baby. While the rising trend has made a variety of new names, people with weird names (“weird” as perceived by others) could attract ridicule and judgment. Take a recent US case where one mum’s child was mocked by airline staff for her name — Abcde.  

Airline staff mocks mum’s daughter for unusual name

American mum Traci Redford recently filed a complaint to Southwest Airlines about one of their employee’s unprofessional behaviour. Apparently one of the airline staff had ridiculed the name of her daughter, aged five.

The incident is one of the many attacks people with weird names might experience. To make matters worse, the employee uploaded a photo of the girl’s boarding pass on social media.

Redford informed a local TV station that she named her child Abcde. The name’s correct pronunciation  is “ab-si-dee”.


people with weird names

People with weird names: five-year-old Abcde Redford (left) was mocked by an airline staff before boarding Southwest airlines with  her mum, Traci Redford (right). | Image Source: SCMP

She also added that at the time, both she and five-year-old Abcde were about to board a domestic flight. .

One of the gate staff in the airport saw Abcde’s name. She began pointing, giggling, and chatting with her colleagues about Redford and her daughter.

Redford could hear their insults. As quoted from her interview with the TV station, she “turned around” and told them, “Hey, I can hear you, so if I can hear you, my daughter can, too. I’d appreciate if you’d just stop.” 

Apparently, as the mum was waiting, the employee who laughed at Abcde took a photo of Traci’s boarding pass. Afterwards, in Traci’s words, the employee “chose to post it on social media, mocking my daughter.”

“It was actually brought to my attention by somebody who had seen it [the post] on Facebook and reported it to Southwest Airlines. And after two weeks of doing a formal complaint, Southwest hadn’t done anything,” explains Redford.

Eventually, Southwest Airlines responded with an official apology

The Airlines said that the social media post was not what they expected from their staff.

A representative of the airline announced that “We take great pride in extending our Southwest hospitality to all of our customers. That includes living by the golden rule and treating every individual with respect, in person or online.”

He went on to say that the employee’s post online was “not indicative of the care, respect, and civility we expect from all of our employees.” 

The representative then explained that they have investigated the situation and talked to the employee in question. 

The spokesman concluded by saying that they were enforcing their policies and stressing what they expect from employees.

Nowadays, people with weird names, or unusual ones, like Abcde, aren’t that rare. According to Vocativ, about 328 children were named ‘Abcde’ in America over the past 30 years.

However, the name itself isn’t popular. Search results from the Social Security Administration’s database of popular names for infants says that “Abcde is not in the top 1,000 names for any year of birth beginning with 2000”.

What parents should contemplate before naming their child

1. Parents should think about the consequences before naming their child

In my opinion, there were issues with both the parent and the employee.

Parents do hold the authority and right to name their child as they wish. However, they should think about the potential consequences, too, when giving their child a name.

People with weird names (perceived as weird) may possibly become victims of bullying. Parents will also have to check if the child’s initials may fall prey to others’ ridicule (say, Alice Sandy Sia – ASS;  or Penny Imogen Goh – Pig).

Will the child be mocked throughout their life? Would they deserve to suffer for something that identifies them uniquely among others?

people with weird names

Don’t forget to think carefully about your child’s name before giving it to your child. | Image Source: Stock Photo

The employee was unprofessional and could have acted better

From the employee’s perspective, her behaviour was very unprofessional. Laughing at anyone — a child at that — is just downright rude. It could also tarnish the Airline’s reputation.
Even at the most basic level, laughing at others isn’t right. It is rude, insulting and wrong to laugh at someone for something that’s beyond their control. Isn’t it better to avoid saying anything negative instead of hurting others emotionally, or handling the ensuing conflicts?

In short…

Remember, parents, the takeaways here are:
  • to never say anything if you only have negative or insulting comments (teach your kids, too!). 
  • that names are a lifelong gift to your children. Please consider giving them a name that is not easily open to ridicule. Think about the consequences first.

Parents, we hope that this article about people with weird names has been helpful. Have any thoughts? Share them in the comments below!

References: South China Morning Post (or SCMP)

Also Read:

Horrible manners on Singapore MRT reserved seats

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Singapore mum fed up with rudeness and congestion on daily public transport commute

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