Pilot Shocked as Plane Is Quarantined on Landing

Pilot Shocked as Plane Is Quarantined on Landing

Upon landing on a runway in Texas last Friday, a United Airlines flight faced an unexpected "quarantine" directive after 25 passengers, who had recently embarked on a cruise in Canada, became unwell during the journey.

A passenger reported that the pilot, in his extensive aviation career, had never encountered a federal grounding order until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) instructed that no one was permitted to disembark the aircraft.

Departing from Vancouver, British Columbia, United Airlines flight 1528 was bound for Houston, as reported by KPRC-TV.

Mid-flight, passengers started feeling ill, predominantly experiencing nausea.

James Snell, a passenger, informed KPRC that approximately 90 minutes before landing, a sickness began spreading, prompting the flight crew to isolate the affected individuals, who had recently departed from a Celebrity Cruises ship where a norovirus outbreak had occurred.

Out of 75 passengers who had been on the cruise ship and were scheduled to land at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, 25 reported symptoms.

The plane touched down at Houston airport around 6:30 p.m. on Friday, but the situation took a peculiar turn from there, according to Snell.

"Then all of a sudden, the flight attendant, she put on a mask, and the guy next to me is like, 'What do you think's going on?' And I’m like, 'Bro, I don’t know. You know? I mean, COVID, we’re all going to die.' You know what I mean," Snell recounted to KPRC.

Firetrucks and ambulances met the plane, and passengers were briefly detained, except for three individuals who were promptly removed but not hospitalized.

Snell mentioned that the pilot emphasized the unprecedented nature of the situation to the passengers.

“This is where it got weird," Snell added. "[The pilot] got over the speaker, but he came out to us, and he said, ‘Hey, in my 25 years of flying, I’ve never seen anything like this. We have been quarantined by the CDC. Nobody can exit the plane until the CDC lets us off.’"

After about 45 minutes, passengers were allowed to leave the aircraft and were screened by health professionals. Snell expressed concern about the potential spread of illness among passengers and the risk of a new pandemic.

Both the CDC and United Airlines issued separate statements emphasizing that the incident was isolated.

United Airlines stated, "Several passengers who had been on the same cruise and did not feel well were on United Flight 1528 from Vancouver to Houston tonight. United Airlines is actively coordinating with health authorities to address the situation."

The airline announced that the aircraft involved would undergo temporary removal from service for sterilization.

United Airlines commented, "As a precautionary measure, the aircraft will be removed from service and go through a deep cleaning before returning to service. Ensuring the health and safety of our passengers and crew remains our top priority."

The CDC, in its statement, described its actions as precautionary after passengers reported stomach issues.

"Public health officers from CDC’s Houston Port Health Station worked with EMS to evaluate ill passengers on board. Most of the ill passengers reported mild GI symptoms," the agency stated. "No passengers were noted to have a fever during the flight or upon public health assessment at landing. No passengers met CDC criteria for further public health follow-up. Passengers from the flight continued with their travel plans."

According to the Cleveland Clinic, symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and it can spread easily through person-to-person contact, contaminated food, or contaminated surfaces. Typically, the illness resolves within a few days.

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