Airline staff accused of mocking girl's unusual name - 'Abcde'

The airline has apologised for the staffer's remarks.
The airline has apologised for the staffer's remarks. Photo: Shutterstock

A Texas woman has accused airline staff of making fun of her daughter's name, and posting about it on social media.

Five-year-old Abcde Redford, pronounced "ab-city", was boarding a Southwest Airlines flight a few weeks ago in John Wayne Airport, Orange County when she was mocked by an employee. 

"The gate agent started laughing, pointing at me and my daughter, talking to other employees," Abcde's mother, Traci Redford, told ABC7. "So I turned around and said, 'Hey if I can hear you, my daughter can hear you, so I'd appreciate if you'd just stop,'".

According to Ms Redford, the flight attendant also snapped a photo of her daughter's boarding pass, which she later shared on social media.

"It was actually brought to my attention by somebody who had seen it on Facebook and reported it to Southwest Airlines. And after two weeks of doing a formal complaint, Southwest hadn't done anything,"

Abcde was also distressed by the incident, asking her mum, "Why is she laughing at my name?" "I said not everyone is nice and not everyone is going to be nice and it's unfortunate," Ms Redford explained.

In a statement provided to ABC7, Southwest Airlines said: "We extend our sincere apology to the family. 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. 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 emphasise our expectations for all Employees."

The name "Abcde" isn't as rare as you might think. It first garnered attention after a story about a seven-year-old girl with autism, called Abcde Santos (pronounced, "ab-suh-dee,") hit US news in 2014.  Abcde of California was turned away by Santa Claus, after waiting in line, because he was scared of her service dog, a pit bull, CNN reported at the time.

Vocativ subsequently uncovered that there were 328 girls in the US with this unusual moniker. And while the first five letters of the alphabet seemed to reach their peak in 2009, with 32 babies called Abcde in that year alone, the name was also bestowed on 16 babies in 2013.