Sometime during our childhoods, we all learn that pointing out differences that are just skin deep is rude and unnecessary.
But an American Airlines flight crew never got the memo, apparently.
A South Carolina woman is speaking out after she and her infant son were kicked off their flight by the airline, all because of a harmless skin condition.
Jordan Flake and her baby boy, Jackson, both have a genetic condition called ichthyosis. The condition, sometimes called "fish skin," causes dead skin cells to build on the body in dry, scaly clumps instead of shedding.
About 16,000 children with ichthyosis are born each year, according to the Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types, and despite the alarming marks the condition can leave on a patient’s skin, it’s not contagious.
Flake was seated for her flight from El Paso, Texas to Dallas last week, to visit her husband in the military before his deployment, when an an AA employee approached her and asked the men sitting beside Flake to leave their seats.
"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,'" Flake wrote about her encounter on Facebook. "I explained to him it was called ichthyosis, a genetic skin condition I share with my son."
"He came back and said he apologized, but we 'wouldn’t be able to fly,' and we 'had to get off the plane.'"
While AA arranged for a new flight with an upgrade and refund, Flake is still upset by her hurtful encounter. She has never needed a doctor’s note to fly before, because of course her condition poses no risk to anyone else.
She added that being kicked off the flight on February 28 was especially upsetting - that’s Rare Disease Day.
"I have never been so humiliated in my life," she wrote. "Happy Rare Disease Day! Quit being ignorant and take the time to listen to people! I shouldn’t have to explain myself."
The airline apologized to Flake in a public statement, saying that their team "has begun an investigation into the matter."