Traci Redford told ABC7 that she and her five-year-old daughter, whose name is Abcde, were boarding a plane at John Wayne Airport in California — en route to El Paso, Texas — when the gate agent noticed Abcde’s distinctive moniker.
The girl’s name is pronounced “ab-city,” according to the outlet. Abcde and Traci were boarding the flight early because Abcde has epilepsy.
“The gate agent started mocking my child’s name, laughing, pointing at me and my daughter and talking to other employees,” Traci said. “So I turned around and just said, ‘Hey, I can hear you, so if I can hear you, my daughter can, too. I’d appreciate it if you’d just stop.’”
Abcde did not understand why she was the subject of the joke, her moms says. “She asked me, ‘Mom, why is she laughing at my name?’” Traci recalled. “And I said, ‘You know, honey, not everybody is nice, and not everyone is going to be nice, and it’s unfortunate.’”
Traci told ABC7 that the gate agent took the teasing to Facebook, where she posted a note about Abcde’s name.
“While I was sitting there, she took a picture of my boarding pass and chose to post it on social media, mocking my daughter,” Traci continued. “It was actually brought to my attention by somebody who had seen it on Facebook and reported it to Southwest Airlines.”
Southwest has since apologized. “We extend our sincere apology to the family,” the airline told PEOPLE in a statement. “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,” the statement continues. “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.”