JetBlue Bans Passenger Who Told Crew That He Was Being Tested for Coronavirus

March 13, 2020 Updated: March 13, 2020

A passenger on a flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to Palm Beach, Florida, was banned indefinitely after he flew on the plane only to tell crew members after the trip that he was being tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

JetBlue confirmed that the unnamed passenger was banned from flying with the airline “in the future,” without elaborating.

According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the passenger informed the airliner’s crew that his test came back positive for COVID-19 after the flight landed, CNN reported.

“The health and safety of our customers and crewmembers is our first priority. In reviewing last night’s event, we determined the customer boarded our flight knowing he was awaiting results for a coronavirus test without disclosing it to anyone at JetBlue,” the airline wrote in a statement to Fox News on Friday.

The incident put federal and local officials, customers, JetBlue crew members, and others in an “unsettling situation” that was not necessary, JetBlue wrote.

“As such, this customer will not be permitted to fly on JetBlue in the future,” JetBlue said in its statement.

The incident forced the airline to extensively clean Gate 7 at JFK’s Terminal 5 as wells other gates, checkpoints, kiosks, elevators, restrooms, and other areas, according to the Port Authority, reported the New York Daily News. They observed the passenger going through those areas “based on security camera footage,” a spokeswoman said.

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A woman wearing a protective mask rides a subway in New York City on March 9, 2020. (Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)

“This is on top of the enhanced cleaning protocols that have been in place,” the spokeswoman added. “These protocols include at least twice daily sanitization of all common and high-touchpoint areas with EPA-approved and CDC-endorsed antiviral disinfectants, in addition to overnight deep cleaning of all terminal areas.”

Capt. Albert Borroto of Palm Beach Fire and Rescue, which responded to the scene, told CNN that health guidelines were followed and passengers on the flight were assessed.

“Passengers in the vicinity of the positive patient were advised of monitoring procedures. The rest of the passengers were released to go home and given directions … to call the health department with any medical concerns,” he said.

Officials said that the passenger flew on JetBlue Flight 253, which landed at 9 p.m. in West Palm Beach on Wednesday.

“When he was sitting on the plane, he got a phone call or a text message that it was a positive test,” passenger Scott Rodman told CNBC about the passenger. “It’s kind of wild, if you have gotten tested, to go on a plane.”

It’s not clear if the passenger, whose identity wasn’t disclosed, is being quarantined. His condition also is not known.

“We’re asking customers who do not feel well or are concerned they may have coronavirus to not fly until cleared to travel by a doctor or health professional,” a JetBlue spokesman told the New York Daily News. “JetBlue is currently waiving change and cancellation fees to allow customers the opportunity to change or pause their travel plans should they need to.”

More than 1,300 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the United States so far, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. At least three-dozen deaths have been reported in the country.