A mum and her baby were removed from a flight due to their genetic skin condition.

Mother Jordan Flake, and her baby son, Jackson, were on a domestic American Airlines flight when they were removed from the plane due to the appearance of their skin.

The woman and her son from South Carolina in the US both have ichthyosis, a genetic disease which has symptoms that include thick, scaly, dry and cracked skin, according to The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

While there is no cure, ichthyosis is not contagious, and is not caused by any sort of infection. Unfortunately, that information wasn’t accepted by the crew of the flight the Flakes were on; which is why they were asked to disembark.

The frustrated mum wrote a now viral post on her Facebook page, explaining what happened:

“Before take off a man (employee called on flight to handle the situation) came up to my row and asked the two 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.”

The attendant discussed the matter with the rest of the crew, and “apparently also googled it during that time.”

The information he received on Google wasn’t enough to convince him that the Flakes weren’t a danger to the other passengers, and the mother and her baby were asked to disembark.

Adding to the difficult situation, Flake overheard some comments from a flight attendant that only made the situation worse.

“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 explained that she eventually managed to board another flight on a different airline, the next day, after making arrangements for the care of her daughter who was at home.

“I have never been so humiliated in my life!”, the mother concluded the post.

“Quit being ignorant and take the time to listen to people! I shouldn’t have to explain myself.”

Flake’s viral post attracted the attention of American Airlines, whose spokesperson told Inc. magazine the airline was conducting an investigation into the incident.


“We sincerely apologise to Ms Flake and her son for the experience they had…We will also be refunding the cost of her trip.”

Carly Findlay, an Australian writer who also lives with ichthyosis, told the ABC in response to the Flake’s story that she did not usually experience that level of discrimination on domestic flights, and has only been questioned, out of concern, once.

The situation, however, is different for her during international travel.

“I get a letter from a doctor about the medication I’m taking,” Findlay told the ABC.

“It also lists what my condition is, that I’m not contagious, that I don’t have fingerprints, which can be difficult at customs.”

These measures, however, have sometimes still not been enough for Findlay to prevent issues in both the United States and in Abu Dhabi.

The Flake’s story, and her own experiences, caused Findlay concern about the impact on children.

“Discriminatory incidents like this scare young people in the ichthyosis community,” she said. “What if it happens to them?”

Listen to Mia Freedman’s interview with Carly Findlay, or subscribe to No Filter. Post continues after audio.

This week, Findlay published an extract of her new book, Say Hello by Carly Findlay, on Mamamia, called ‘My worst fear came true. My face was the subject of ridicule on the internet.’

In the extract, Findlay describes her experiences and the online bullying she’s received because of her appearance. The responses to one particular photo of her online, were especially disheartening to her.

“There were countless diagnoses (so many people educated by Dr Google) and assumptions of sunburn. They annoyed me a lot. Not to mention that that photo was actually taken on one of the happiest nights of my life, when I met the Rush TV show cast,” Findlay wrote.

The incident was one of many moments of discrimination that Findlay has experienced; which is part of why she wanted to write her book.

“I want my work to reach as many people as possible – I want to influence the way people think about appearance diversity and disability.”

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