Jordan Flake and her son Jackson were attempting to fly home from visiting her husband, who was on 4-day leave before being deployed, on an American Airlines flight.
But then she was asked probing questions and eventually forced to deplane.
She shared their experience on Facebook.
"Today is #rarediseaseday ! While I'd like to share something positive, Jackson and I were just discriminated against...big time!"
"**just to clarify, my issue is 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!**"
On Love What Matters, Flake said she did everything she usually does when flying: checked her bags at the counter, went through security, boarded the flight as usual, all with no deviations from the routine and no hint that there was anything amiss.
"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. 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."
Despite the fact that the airline employee looked up information about ichthyosis and therefore would have known it was a genetic condition and not a contagious disease, he still insisted that Flake and her son deplane.
It seemed this was largely due to the behavior of one of the flight attendants. The pilot was not bothered by their presence on the flight.
"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...'."
Jordan and Jackson were provided with a hotel and a flight on a different airline, but they were still stranded without their checked bags.
Jordan also had to make arrangements for her daughter, who was awaiting her return at home.
"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."
"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."
Jordan was understandably upset by this turn of events and the flight attendant's ignorance.
"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."
"Since I'm not able to tag the airline, feel free to share!"
Here is her original post.
Ichthyosis is a genetic condition that affects a person's skin, causing it to appear dry, scaly, flaky or discolored. As it is a genetic condition, there is no way for it to be transmitted from person to person.
The airline has since issued an apology to Flake and her son in a statement to USA Today:
"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 Thursday, 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 American flights. We will also be refunding the cost of her trip as well."
Facebook users were still disgusted by what happened to Jordan and Jackson.
Anne F. Bassler/Facebook
Flake ended her story on Love What Matters with a call for people to educate themselves and show compassion.
"I should never feel ashamed of myself for the way I was born. This was unacceptable and uncalled for."
"I have never been asked to show a letter. I have never been told by a doctor that I had to have documentation stating I wasn't contagious, or whatever they were assuming."
"In 2019, it's time we stop discriminating."
"Ask questions, and listen."