How Many Flights Will be Detained Because of Ebola?

This just may become a daily event. At Orlando International Airport (MCO), a Southwest flight arriving from Houston was detained because a passenger was sick. Seems he mentioned that he had visited Kenya a couple months ago. That was enough to contact the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for advice. The other passengers had to remain on the aircraft until this man was checked out for Ebola symptoms. No doubt there was no information relayed to the passengers while this event unfolded. Fortunately his symptoms did not match the fatal contagious disease.

Unfortunately, the potential exists where it may take a couple hours to check out an illness. That means missed connecting flights and passenger travel plans delayed. Of course it’s important to be sensitive to this extremely dangerous illness but even CDC says there has to be a balance between proactive containment and the needs of passengers.

Adding to the Ebola scare, the first case of the disease outside of Africa was reported in Spain. Meanwhile, some politicians want to limit travel due to this dreaded illness. Screening travelers before leaving West Africa certainly makes sense but as the CDC says, there has to be a reasonable balance. Hopefully the airports, cooperating with CDC, can develop a protocol quickly to minimize this kind of travel disruption. The way it is now, nearly every instance of illness on a plane can appear at first to be similar to Ebola symptoms.


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