Your Plane Has Been Quarantined

Your plane has been quarantined. It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but it isn’t.  When my flight from Nandi, Fiji landed in Brisbane, Australia the flight attendant made an announcement – it went something like this. Ladies and gentlemen, when we land please remain in your seats as we have a sick passenger onboard and officials from the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service will board the airplane.

We landed and no one got up – a rare sight.  We sat and waited, without any information, while the crew spoke to the medical personnel. I was in seat 1E so I had a good view and could hear a lot.  After some discussion about the woman’s symptoms – a rash, fever, and vomiting to name a few – 1 medical officer disappeared down the aisle toward the rear of the aircraft.  

Everyone sat still, no one complained and it was very quite – except for the child who had wailed throughout the entire flight.  We sat, and we waited, and waited.  Still, no information.  The medical officer reappeared and stopped off the plane. She spoke with the pilot and main flight attendant. The woman was going to need to be hospitalized.  What did that mean for us? 

A few moments later the pilot made an announcement indicating that we should remain seated and out of the aisle so that medical staff could board and attend to the sick passenger.   

As we waited I asked the flight attendant what was happening.  She said they suspected someone onboard had dengue fever.  Dengue? Now that’s something I’m familiar with.   Unfortunately, in early 2013 I got Dengue while on a trip to Thailand, so I know what this woman must have been feeling like. (you can read about that here:  Luckily I knew from my research that Dengue is not transferable from human to human.  Dengue is very common – 50 million dengue infections occur annually according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

No announcement was ever made to the entire plane about what was happening.  Were people sitting and wondering if they’d been exposed to something contagious?  I think it was irresponsible of the airline and crew and even the Australian officials for not making an official announcement.  After some time the flight attendant made the final announcement – thank you for your cooperation, you may now disembark.  

That was it…the plane was quarantined, we waited, a woman was taken to the hospital and everyone on the plane (except me and the man in 1C) went about their day without any information.   Thank goodness it was not something more serious – but perhaps if it had been they would have communicated differently?  

Have you ever had a similar experience? 

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