American Airlines apologizes after family with rare skin disease claims they were kicked off flight

A woman and her child were asked to leave the plane after flight attendants on an American Airlines flight noticed they both developed a rare skin disease that manifests as a rash, the Chicago Tribune reports. Jordan Fleck and her son have a genetic skin disease called ichthyosis that causes dry, thick and scaly skin but is not contagious, the Chicago Tribune reports. According to the Chicago Tribune , Fleck shared a post about the experience on Facebook on February 28 in honor of Rare Disease Day, a day that focuses on rare diseases and disorders that affect a small portion of the population.

American Airlines has apologized to Fleck for the incident. An American Airlines representative told Bustle via email, "American Airlines' goal is to create a welcoming environment for all passengers. We sincerely apologize to Ms. Fleck and her son for their experience on Thursday and our team An investigation into the matter has been initiated and our customer relations team has spoken with her directly and will be refunding her travel costs."

After Fleck and her son, Jackson, boarded the plane, an airline employee asked two other passengers in the same row to stand up, Fleck wrote in a post. Love What Matters, a blog that amplifies uplifting stories. Fleck claims airline employees then asked about her "rash" and whether she had a letter from a doctor saying she could fly. Fleck said in the post that she explained to the employee that she and her son had a genetic skin disease called ichthyosis.

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Fleck claims that after speaking with her, the airline employee walked to the front of the plane to talk to the crew. "He apparently also Googled [ichthyosis] during that time. He came back and said he apologized but that we 'wouldn't be able to fly' and that we 'had to get off the plane,'" Flake said in her post. "He helped me with my luggage and Jackson. When we got off the plane, he talked to the pilot. The pilot seemed to agree, but the flight attendant rudely said (without even saying hello to me) 'Well, she doesn't have a doctor's note, so……"

Fleck said in the post that the airline was unable to retrieve her checked luggage and she and her son had to spend the night in a hotel. She said she also had to make unexpected childcare arrangements for her daughter at home and had to get rides to the store to buy lotion and clothes for her and her son.

"I have never been so humiliated in my life," Flake said in the post. "I've emailed them (American Airlines) and am waiting for a response. Happy Rare Disease Day! Stop being ignorant and take the time to listen to people! It's not my place to explain myself."


Causes of Ichthyosis Extremely dry, thick, scaly skin that looks like fish scales, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). The AAD stresses on its website that ichthyosis is not contagious. The disorder is inherited from one or both parents, and people usually develop it as children, but in rare cases, adults can develop it as well, the AAD said. There are many types of ichthyosis, and about 300 babies are born with moderate to severe ichthyosis each year, according to the Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types (FIRST).

In her post, Flake called on people to stop discriminating, ask questions and listen to others. "I should never be ashamed of the way I was born. It's unacceptable and unnecessary," Fleck said. "In 2019, it's time for us to stop discriminating. Ask questions and listen."