Airline apologizes after removing mother and baby from flight over rare genetic skin condition
A mother and her baby were kicked off an American Airlines flight by staff because of a rare genetic skin condition.
Jordan Flake took to social media to claim she had "never been so humiliated in her life" after she and her son Jackson were told to leave when the cabin crew noticed they both shared "a rash".
After explaining they suffered from Ichthyosis, a condition that causes widespread and persistent thick, dry, 'fish-scale' skin which is not contagious, she was removed from the plane and forced to leave her luggage behind and book a flight with a different airline.
On Facebook, Flake, who was returning home following a trip to Texas to see her husband before his military deployment, revealed that the "discriminatory" incident occurred on Rare Disease Day. She also argued that she should never "have to explain herself" to those who are ignorant.
"Today is #rarediseaseday! While I’d like to share something positive, Jackson and I were just discriminated against...big time!" she wrote. "We boarded our American Airlines flight where everyone smiled and talked to Jackson. Before take off a man (employee called on flight to handle the situation) came up to my row and asked the 2 men sitting next to me to get up. He then quietly asked me about 'my rash' and if I had a letter from a doctor stating it was ok for me to fly."
She continued: "I explained to him that it was called Ichthyosis and it was a genetic skin condition. He walked up to the front to talk to the crew. He apparently also googled it 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. He helped me get my bags and Jackson. He talked to the pilot as we were getting off.
"The pilot seemed ok with it, but the flight attendant rudely said (without even acknowledging me) 'well she doesn’t have a letter from a doctor, so...' They also weren’t able to retrieve my checked luggage. The man helped me off the plane, got me a hotel and a new flight with a different airline."
Claiming that she was forced to make unexpected childcare arrangements for her daughter at home and had to find someone to take her to the shop to buy clothes and toiletries, she concluded: "I have never been so humiliated in my life! I have emailed them and am waiting for a reply. Happy Rare Disease Day! Quit being ignorant and take the time to listen to people! I shouldn’t have to explain myself."
She later clarified that her issue was "with the crew. Not the airline employee. He was called by the crew to remove me from the plane. He was very helpful and mad about the situation. He tried advocating for me!"
After her post on Facebook went viral, gaining almost 5,000 reactions and 3,500 shares, American Airlines responded in a statement that claimed they were investigating the issue.
"Our goal at American Airlines is to create a welcoming environment for all of our customers," they said. "We sincerely apologise to Ms Flake and her son for the experience they had Thursday, and our team has begun an investigation into the matter."
The company added that it had been in touch with Ms Flake and would be refunding the cost of her trip.