A family’s dream Disneyland vacation got off to a nightmarish start after they were booted from their Southwest Airlines flight amid allegations from other passengers that their 6-year-old had lice, a claim that the mother has depicted as a simple and annoying misunderstanding.
The Newman family was headed from Chicago to Santa Ana, California, on Friday to spend the holiday weekend at Disneyland, NBC 5 reported. Things took a dark turn when Mrs. Newman noticed her daughter’s hair was a tad messy.
“There was some dry skin in my daughter’s hair,” the father, J. Newman, told the outlet. “So, she was just kind of taking it out of my daughter’s hair.”
Simple, right? Wrong. About half an hour later, a Southwest Airlines gate agent came to break the news to the Newmans that they would not be getting on their scheduled plane.
“That they saw my wife going through my daughter’s hair and that she might have lice,” Newman said. “And we looked at each other like are you serious right now or is this a joke?”
In a statement, Southwest stood by its decision and insisted that they were approached by customers “with concerns about a fellow passenger in the gate area exhibiting behavior consistent with a highly contagious medical condition.”
“We never want to inconvenience customers but when we receive concerns from multiple people, we’re obligated to look into them,” the statement continued.
The Newmans lamented the impact that the embarrassing incident had on their daughters, aged 4 and 6.
“My daughter is hysterical because she thinks this is her fault that she’s not going to Disneyland,” J. Newman said.
“We don’t even have lice. That’s the crazy thing. Our daughter doesn’t have lice. So, why they would do this to us I have no idea.”
While the Newmans were offered another flight on Sunday, J. Newman claimed he did not receive any apologies or compensation. He wondered if Southwest had actually bumped them because of overbooking, but the airline shot down that allegation.