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A JetBlue passenger who flew with the coronavirus got slapped with a lifetime ban

Published Mar 14th, 2020 7:25PM EDT
Coronavirus travel
Image: CJ GUNTHER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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  • We are going to see a lot more of this kind of thing in the coming days, as the US and the rest of the world continues coming to grips with the spread of the coronavirus: JetBlue has given a lifetime ban to a passenger who flew with the virus. 
  • An important caveat: The passenger did not know about the diagnosis before takeoff. The passenger got a text confirming a positive diagnosis while in-flight and notified the crew once the plane landed.
  • Social distancing remains the two-word mantra that officials keep repeating as the US tries to “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus outbreak. Meantime, expect to see more of this kind of thing around the ethics of the disease. Twitter is also full of instances right now of people desperately trying not to cough in public or sneeze, for fear of bringing down the swift wrath on themselves from everyone around them.
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Imagine this scenario: In just a few moments from now, you’re about to get into an Uber or a cab. You’re not feeling well, and — just for the sake of argument, because, hopefully, you all are practicing good hygiene and staying safe — you think you might have the coronavirus. In fact, you’ve already been tested and are waiting to get the results back before you know for sure.Do you proactively tell the driver? “Hey man, by the way, just so you know …”This exact scenario played out earlier this week. Instead of a cab ride, though, it was a JetBlue flight. A passenger, according to news reports, wasn’t feeling well and took a coronavirus test before boarding a flight. He boarded the flight (while not knowing the results). This passenger got a text during the flight informing him that the diagnosis was positive. 

Once the plane landed, at that point the passenger told the plane’s crew, hey, just so you know — I just learned this.

This involved a passenger flying from New York (which, by the way, has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the US at this point) to West Palm Beach on Wednesday night. JetBlue did not take kindly to the passenger’s actions potentially putting its staff in harm’s way and instituted a lifetime ban. “Last night’s event put our crewmembers, customers, and federal and local officials in an unsettling situation that could have easily been avoided, and as such, this customer will not be permitted to fly on JetBlue in the future,” the airline said in a statement released Thursday.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey immediately used security camera footage to begin cleaning areas this passenger went through to board his plane, including gates, elevators, and restrooms. In West Palm Beach, the Palm Beach International Airport is operating normally, though it temporarily shut down Concourse A to be cleaned, because that’s where passengers aboard this particular flight went through after deplaning.

The passenger’s condition isn’t clear at the moment, but this is as good an excuse as any to remind everyone to please be mindful not only of your own health but your potential impact on people around you. The World Health Organization declared the virus a global pandemic on Friday, and Europe is the current epicenter:

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.