South Carolina

Airline kicked SC woman and son with genetic skin condition off flight, mother says

Jordan Flake/Facebook

A South Carolina woman and her young son with a genetic skin condition were kicked off an American Airlines flight on Thursday, she said on Facebook. She was on her way to visit her husband before he deployed with the military, she said in a separate post on the Love What Matters site.

“Jackson and I were just discriminated against...big time!” Jordan Flake wrote on Facebook.

“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 wrote.

She said she told an airline employee “it was called Ichthyosis and it was a genetic skin condition.”

“I have never been so humiliated in my life!” she wrote.

Fox Carolina asked the airline about the incident on the flight from El Paso, Texas, to Dallas. American Airlines told the station, “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,” according to Fox Carolina.

Flake wrote about her experience on the Love What Matters website.

“Thursday was Rare Disease Day and I have never felt more aware and embarrassed about my skin, or the condition I share with my son. After I left and got in my hotel, I had to go to the store. I felt like everyone was staring at us because I now had this negative feeling about myself. I should never feel ashamed of myself for the way I was born,” she said.

On Facebook, Flake explained the airline employee was helpful and made sure she got a hotel room, even if the employee was not able to get her checked luggage 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...” Flake wrote on Facebook.

“My daughter is a sweet girl, military wife, and great mother... She was born with this condition and doesn’t deserve this treatment,” Flake’s father, Terry Lee Smith, told Fox Carolina.

Ichthyosis “is an inherited skin disorder in which dead skin cells accumulate in thick, dry scales on your skin’s surface,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

There is no cure for the genetic condition, the Mayo Clinic writes. “The scales of ichthyosis vulgaris, sometimes called fish scale disease or fish skin disease, can be present at birth, but usually first appear during early childhood,” the clinic says.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz testified at a hearing Tuesday on customer service concerns following incidents on flights, including one in which a passenger was dragged off a plane for refusing to give up his seat.

Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.