In a TikTok video posted on Aug. 4, Jacqueline Nguyen, or username jacqueline.ngu, said the airline had her “get off the plane in front of everyone along with my wife to interrogate me about the eczema I’ve had my whole life.”
According to Nguyen, Spirit asked her to show them medical documentation proving she had eczema.
“They asked me to provide medical documents and told my wife to watch her attitude. I’ve never been so humiliated in my life,” text over a video of Nguyen breaking down in tears reads.
The video quickly gained traction, garnering thousands of views and reactions from others with skin conditions.
In a follow-up to her initial video, Nguyen explained that she was able to board the flight again after presenting a tube of prescribed eczema cream.
“I’m very lucky I happened to bring my eczema cream that day, but we shouldn’t have to tote around evidence,” she posted, adding: “This has happened to other people who were not so lucky to have anything with them as ‘proof.'”
Healthcare attorney Harry Nelson called the situation tricky.
“The airlines have a right to express concerns about a possibly contagious condition and to ask patients for medical certification if there’s reason to believe that they are sick,” Nelson said. “The question here is really whether Spirit behaved reasonably and whether it was possible to mistake the passenger’s eczema, in this case, for monkeypox.”
Nelson says Spirit could be in a legal jam whether they ignore the questions or ask them.
“I think it was the right question. I think they just got the wrong answer,” he explained.
Nelson says his heart goes out to everyone with a longstanding skin condition and explained that while it’s an inconvenience, it might not be a bad idea to carry documentation when traveling.
“While it’s not fair that they should have to carry such documentation, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to have something to explain if you’re going to have to travel or if you’re going to find yourself in a situation where these kinds of mistakes might be made,” Nelson said.
Still, Nelson fully expects to see a lawsuit against Spirit stemming from this situation.
NewsNation reached out to Spirit Airlines for comment regarding Jacqueline’s story. We have not heard back yet.
News of the incident comes as the U.S. declared monkeypox a public health emergency in an effort to make federal funding and resources available to fight the infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines monkeypox as a “rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox.”
While researchers are still looking into ways the virus spreads, officials say it can be passed on through close skin to skin contact or sharing items like bedding, towels and clothes.
Experts say monkeypox can infect anyone, and they have urged healthcare providers to be alert for patients who have rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox.
According to the latest data from the CDC, there are a total of 7,510 confirmed monkeypox cases in the U.S. On a global scale, the World Health Organization reports monkeypox cases in more than 70 countries.