It was only a matter of time, but H1N1 fear has finally spread to the airlines.
Yesterday, United Airlines passenger Mitra Mostoufi was kicked off her plane when the flight crew suspected she may have swine flu.
The 50 year old from Hawaii was questioned in front of her fellow passengers, and pulled from the plane.
United Airlines said that they do allow their staff to determine whether someone is too ill to fly, and this is obviously done to protect the other passengers and crew on the plane. Especially on a plane, the air circulation system can spread germs to everyone on board in a matter of minutes.
According to Mostoufi, she had thrown up in the airplane bathroom due to a reaction to a restless leg syndrome medication. When she asked for an air sickness bag, a United Airlines staffer ordered her to gather her belongings and leave the plane.
Even though the airline bumped her, they refused to rebook her on a different flight that day, so she had to spend the night with relatives.
I’m torn on this issue – obviously, airline staff are not trained physicians, so they have no way of making a 100% accurate judgment on our health. However, if they notice someone with flu-like symptoms, I’d be quite happy if they asked that passenger some more questions. Throwing someone off a flight just because they are puking does not seem very fair though.
What do you think? Should airlines abandon passengers with (swine) flu like symptoms?