American Airlines is apologizing to a South Carolina mother and her young son after they were booted from a flight because of their rare, genetic skin condition.
Jordan Flake said she was discriminated against and wrongfully kicked off a South Carolina-bound flight with her toddler son, Jackson, after an airline employee inquired about her "rash" shortly before takeoff.
After asking nearby passengers to move, the employee "quietly asked me about 'my rash' and if I had a letter from a doctor stating it was OK for me to fly," Flake wrote on Facebook, where she documented the ordeal. "I explained to him that it was called ichthyosis and it was a genetic skin condition."
The mother and son were returning home Thursday after visiting her military husband in Texas before his deployment, Flake wrote on the website "Love What Matters."
Ichthyosis is a genetic skin disorder that slows the skin's natural shedding process, resulting in dry and scaling skin, according to Mayo Clinic. It's not contagious, but that didn't stop the airline from ordering Flake to deplane.
"He apologized but (said) we wouldn’t be able to fly and we had to get off the plane," Flake added. "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 said the employee was "very helpful and mad about the situation," but couldn't help her stay on the flight or retrieve her checked luggage.
The mother, who shares the skin condition with her 1-year-old son, said she's "never been so humiliated in my life." She also noted that the incident coincidentally took place on Rare Disease Day.
In a statement to USA TODAY, American Airlines doubled down on its mission of inclusion while extending an apology to Flake and Jackson.
"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."
However, Flake hopes the incident will prevent another person from feeling embarrassed about their skin, like she was made to feel in that moment.
"I should never feel ashamed of myself for the way I was born. This was unacceptable and uncalled for," she wrote on "Love What Matters." "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."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: American Airlines apologizes for kicking a mother and baby off flight for skin condition