After several passengers became physically ill during a Frontier Airlines Cleveland-to-Tampa flight, health officials briefly quarantined the aircraft when it reached its final destination. Concerns that the flyers who took ill might have been exposed to pathogens at an airport water fountain prior to boarding led authorities in Ohio to order some airport facilities closed.
Frontier Airlines officials have confirmed that at least six passengers fell ill during a New Year’s Day flight from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) to Tampa International Airport (TPA). According to reports, health officials briefly quarantined the plane on the ground in Florida for more than an hour before allowing unaffected passengers to disembark.
“During Frontier flight 1397 from Cleveland to Tampa this afternoon, six passengers became ill,” an airline spokesperson told Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA. “The aircraft was met by local emergency medical services upon arrival in Tampa. Those passengers displaying symptoms were evaluated by medical staff before being released. All other passengers were released after a brief holding period. The cause of the illness remains under investigation. Passenger safety is Frontier’s number one priority.”
Authorities say that the six passengers who became ill during the flight were strangers not traveling together, leading health officials to suspect that the illnesses were in some way related to the air travel journey. No other flyers reported symptoms in the hours since the flight landed.
“They were just coming out of nowhere,” one passenger on the flight told reporters. “Just throwing up, sick.”
Eyewitnesses on the plane say crew members first let passengers know there was a potential problem about halfway through the scheduled two-and-a-half-hour-flight. Flight attendants asked any air travelers on the flight who were experiencing symptoms to identify themselves before landing.
A CLE spokesperson later told the television station that an airport drinking fountain near the Frontier gates may be linked to the in-flight illnesses. According to the report, officials immediately shut down all of the water fountains in that concourse as a precaution.