If there were ever a poster child for the benefit of engaging the use of a private jet charter, this story has to be the epitome of such. Recently, a family from Chicago on their way to Disneyland had their travel plans derailed when Southwest airlines removed them from the travel manifest over fears the family’s two children had lice.
According to reports, the family was patiently waiting to board their flight to Santa Ana at a terminal when a Southwest employee approached. The agent told the family they would not be able to board or fly with them.
Mr. J Newman, the children’s father said, “That they saw my wife going through my daughter’s hair and that she might have lice.” The father said that following the airline representative’s assertion, he and his wife exchanged glances thinking it must be some kind of a joke.
Newman indicated that his wife was simply combing through her daughter’s hair innocently and afterward, he and his wife had to break the unfortunate news to his two children, both girls, aged 4 and 6.
The Newman mother said she was simply removing dry skin from her daughter’s hair. Which is believable as this time of year dry skin and scalp are fairly prevalent. Surely people have seen flakes on the shoulders of shoppers in check out lines at grocery stores.
Mr. Newman said, “My daughter is hysterical because she thinks this is her fault that she’s not going to Disneyland.”
The airline has since stated that they received at least 10 separate complaints from fellow travelers. They further mentioned that the complaints stated that the passengers (Newman’s) were exhibiting behavior indicative for a contagious medical condition.
In their defense, Southwest stated, “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, we determined it would be best to rebook their travel for the following day.”
The went on to stress that, “Our Employees are responsible for the well-being of hundreds of thousands of customers daily and are well-known for the care and hospitality they provide. Our goal is for every customer to have a positive experience while traveling Southwest and we do our best to deliver on that commitment while keeping the health and safety of our customers and fellow employees as our top priority.”
They said that they apologized to the Newmans, refunded their airfare and that they regret the inconvenience it caused the family.
Mr. Newman is not convinced however and believes his family was singled out as a result of an overbooking concern. He said the airline did offer to rebook them for a flight but not until two days later. Many media sources are saying this story is reminiscent of a similar one when a sports analyst for Fox News says his family was issued a travel ban until his son, who was supposedly spotted scratching his head was treated for lice.
It should be noted that head lice as a condition are generally diagnosed by a medical professional unless an actual bug has been seen. And that the scratching of one’s head does not prove the presence of head lice. There are numerous reasons one may scratch their head. They are perplexed. They may have dry skin, as the Newmans indicate their daughter did, or perhaps, one’s head may just itch!
This situation and those similar cause one to wonder would this family have been better served booking a private jet charter. Not only could they have avoided the embarrassment of a travel ban and the disappointment their children experienced, but the private nature of flight would leave little room for nosy fellow travelers to practice voyerism to such extremes.