On Thursday, American Airlines apparently kicked a mother and her one-year-old son off of a flight after the crew noticed they both had a mysterious “rash.” Turns out that “rash” was an absolutely non-contagious rare genetic skin condition, the mother was humiliated, and the whole thing went down on Rare Disease Day! The airline has, thankfully, apologized, not that the apology got these poor people to their destination on time.
According to The Washington Post, the aforementioned flight-booting happened to one Jordan Flake, who was on her way home to South Carolina after spending time with her husband in Texas before his military deployment. Flake and her son, Jackson, both have ichthyosis, a genetic skin condition that causes noticeably dry, thick, and scaly skin, and though no one seemed to care much about said skin when the two boarded their flight, apparently the crew flagged it to an airline employee shortly before takeoff.
“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,” Flake wrote in a Facebook post. “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.”
Though Flake says she explained the “rash” was actually a non-contagious genetic condition, the employee told her she and her son would not be able to fly. “He talked to the pilot as we were getting off,” Flake wrote. “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...’”
The employee did help Flake book a hotel and a new flight with a different airline—one seemingly less likely to have a meltdown over dry skin—not that it much lessened her humiliation or the burden of traveling with a baby after saying goodbye to her husband, plus they sent her checked luggage to South Carolina without her:
I had to make unexpected childcare arrangements for my daughter at home and I am having to get a ride to the store to get our lotions and some clothes for tomorrow. 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.
American Airlines released a statement apologizing to Flake, according to USA Today:
“Our goal at American Airlines is to create a welcoming environment for all of our customers,” the company said in a statement. “We sincerely apologize to Ms. Flake and her son for the experience they had Thursday, and our team has begun an investigation into the matter.”
The statement continued: “Our Customer Relations team has already spoken to her directly and upgraded them on their American flights. We will also be refunding the cost of her trip as well.”
I once flew across the country in a middle seat stuck between a couple that a) fought, literally over me b) fed each other, also over me, and c) both fell asleep on top of me. No one kicked them off that plane, so this is some bullshit.