American Airlines apologizes after booting woman, son with rare skin condition off flight

American Airlines has apologized to a South Carolina woman after she and her son were asked to deboard a plane because of their rare, genetic skin condition.

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Jordan Flake wrote a Facebook post about the incident Thursday, Feb. 28 -- which coincided with Rare Disease Day. Flake said she and her 1-year-old son, Jackson, had just wrapped up a trip visiting her military husband before his deployment. Flake and Jackson were onboard a South Carolina-bound plane when an employee approached her.

“Before takeoff 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,” Flake wrote. “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.”

Flake said she explained to the employee that she and Jackson have ichthyosis, a skin condition that causes "extremely dry, thick, and scaly skin," according to the American Academy of Dermatology. "The skin often looks like it has fish scales." Ichthyosis is not contagious.

Flake said the employee Googled the condition and went to the jet bridge, where he had a brief discussion with the crew. He returned and allegedly told Flake that she and Jackson wouldn’t be allowed to fly.

“I have never been so humiliated in my life,” Flake said.

Flake said the employee was "very helpful and mad about the situation,” but noted that she couldn’t retrieve her checked baggage.

American Airlines has since apologized.

"Our goal at American Airlines is to create a welcoming environment for all of our customers. We sincerely apologize to Ms. Flake and her son for the experience they had yesterday, and our team has begun an investigation into the matter. Our Customer Relations team has already spoken to her directly and upgraded them on their flights," American Airlines officials said in a statement, according to The State of Columbia.

Flake also wrote about the incident on the website, "Love What Matters."

“If anything comes out of this, I hope it’s that whatever individual put this into action realizes they were wrong and unkind, and will think twice next time,” Flake wrote. “If I am not to judge people based on their gender, skin color, or relationship status, then I should not be judged based off of the way I was born.”

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