American Airlines has apologized for demanding that a mother and her baby, who share a rare genetic skin condition, leave a flight from Texas to South Carolina.
According to the Washington Post, Jordan Flake and her one-year-old son Jackson were on their way back home from visiting Flake’s husband before his deployment. They boarded the plane without incident but, Flake wrote in a Facebook post, an airline employee approached her before takeoff and quietly asked about her “rash,” and if she had a doctor’s letter stating it was OK for her to fly.
Flake explained that she and Jackson have ichthyosis, a group of skin disorders that causes dry, scaling skin that can either be very thick or very thin. The condition is caused by a genetic mutation. It is not contagious.
The airline employee subsequently “walked up to the front to talk to the crew,” Flake wrote. “He apparently also googled [ichthyosis] during that time. He came back and said he apologized but we wouldn’t be able to fly and we had to get off the plane.” Flake noted that she did not fault the airline employee, who seemed angered by the situation, but the crew.
“The pilot seemed OK with [us staying on the flight],” Flake elaborated on Love What Matters, “but the flight attendant rudely said (without even acknowledging me) ‘well she doesn’t have a letter from a doctor, so…’”
Having to leave the flight was not only inconvenient—Flake says that she was not able to retrieve her checked luggage, had to make alternative child care plans for her daughter back at home, and had to run to a store to get lotions for her and Jackson’s skin—but also degrading.
“I have never felt more aware and embarrassed about my skin, or the condition I share with my son,” she writes on Love What Matters. “I should never feel ashamed of myself for the way I was born.”
In a statement to the Washington Post, American Airlines said it strives to create a “welcoming environment” for all passengers and that it is investigating the incident.
“We sincerely apologize to Ms. Flake and her son for the experience they had Thursday,” the airline said.
Read more at the Washington Post.