Family Bumped From Their Southwest Flight to Disneyland Because of Lice Allegations
A family of four was bumped from their Southwest flight to Santa Ana on Friday after several other passengers accused one of their children of having lice. The Newmans were traveling on Southwest Flight 1652 from Chicago (MDW) to Santa Ana (SNA) and on to Oakland (OAK) for a family trip to Disneyland when accusations from other passengers got them bumped from their flight.
The Chicago family, with two daughters aged 4 and 6, were waiting in the gate area for their flight when J Newman's wife noticed something on her daughter.
"There was some dry skin in my daughter's hair," J Newman — identified only with the initial — said to NBC Chicago. "So, she was just kind of taking it out of my daughter's hair."
About 30 minutes later, a Southwest gate agent approached the family. The agent told the family that customers had complained that after seeing the mother inspect her daughter's hair, suspecting the daughter had lice. Although there was no confirmation the daughter actually had lice, the agent bumped the family from the flight.
According to Southwest, more than 10 customers approached employees "... about a fellow passenger in the gate area exhibiting behavior consistent with a highly contagious condition. Our employees are obligated to look into concerns that are raised by multiple customers and based on a conversation our employees had with the family before boarding the flight, we determined it would be best to rebook their travel for the following day."
But the accusation and the bump left the Newmans scratching their heads — in a different way.
"We don't even have lice," J Newman said. "That's the crazy thing. Our daughter doesn't even have lice. So, why they would do this to us, I have no idea."
Following the incident, the family said that Southwest offered to rebook them on a flight two days later, and it hadn't compensated them for losses. The Newmans also said they believed they could have been bumped to accommodate standby passengers, as the flight was five hours delayed, but Southwest denies that claim. In April 2017, the carrier announced plans to discontinue overbookings.
On Tuesday, however, Southwest said that it has refunded the family the cost of their tickets. In addition, Southwest said that the family was reaccommodated.