On Monday, a passenger died on United Airlines Flight 591 from Orlando to Los Angeles. Questions as to whether he died with COVID-19 persist and remain unanswered, although it seems likely that was the case.
Passenger Dies On United Airlines Flight, Prompts New Orleans Diversion – But Was It COVID-19?
Beyond the reports of three passengers on Twitter and that of a local New Orleans network affiliate, we have little information about the victim or the reason for his death.
Police blamed cardiac distress. A passenger who calls herself “Beige Oppressor” on Twitter claimed that the deceased man’s wife told EMTs in New Orleans that the man had tested positive for COVID-19.
But this “Beige Oppressor” also claimed an autopsy was performed on the plane, which of course did not happen.
She has since locked her Twitter account and changed her name from “Beige Oppressor” to Jo LaFlame…
Another passenger named Shay claimed to be on board and discussed–rather graphically–the attempts to revive the deceased man. She does not mention COVID-19. Instead, she noted the man had a seizure or heart attack:
@united why did you never check our temperatures before boarding? The family of the man, why didn’t you go to the hospital or not let your husband get on the flight feeling like that? An entire plane had to watch him seize or have a heart attack none of us know which, and die.
— Shay (@shaylabobmonsta) December 15, 2020
A third passenger, seated two rows behind the deceased, noted the wife of the deceased claimed her husband was experiencing shortness of breath and loss of taste and smell:
There was no mouth-to-mouth. I was right next to him as they were trying to resuscitate. Unfortunately, I saw the whole thing. We all thought heart attack at first, but wife quickly shared that he was experiencing shortness of breath and lack of taste and smell.
— Robert Reeves (@reevesreel) December 16, 2020
The patient’s wife said that he was experiencing Covid symptoms, i.e. shortness of breath and lack of taste and smell. That’s why everyone is saying Covid. They’re saying “died” because he wasn’t revived after almost an hour of CPR. My family was sitting 2 rows behind all this.
— Robert Reeves (@reevesreel) December 16, 2020
United Airlines told me:
Our flight diverted to New Orleans due to a medical emergency and paramedics transported the passenger to a local hospital where the individual was pronounced deceased. We are in touch with the family and have extended our sincerest condolences to them for their loss. While there is some speculation in the media that this was COVID related, we have received no confirmation as to the cause of death.
United asks passengers to complete a ready-to-fly checklist before traveling. Whether the man had COVID-19 or not, it appears the family lied and misrepresented the situation.
One Mile at a Time shares of another passenger onboard who is demanding $120,000 in compensation. He claims the main problem was the way United handled the aftermath of the incident–
The point of my letter is to expose United systematically misleading their travelers. United is promising to take the extra step (CleanPlus) to ensure the safety of the travelers from Covid19. As soon as the (dead?) passenger was dragged out of the plane, I was expecting that we would all come off the plane and a special crew would get on with special equipment to disinfect the plane. After all, United proudly demonstrate on their website an antimicrobial technology robot and Ultraviolet C (UVC) lighting which can professionally disinfect the plane. But NO! Instead, a lady wearing white t-shirt (not sure if she is a staff member since there was no uniform or badge) came with a bunch of wipes and wiped the passenger seat and that was all!!
Passengers have been promised that United planes are professionally disinfected even without a confirmed Covid Passenger. But now, in front of my eyes, when a confirmed Covid patient was treated for 45min all over the floor and has been dragged while his hand touching every single seat on his left side, the plane is being cleaned by few wipes? United promises an ultra safe environment using “state-of-the-art” equipment, and in reality treated the infected plane worse than a 3rd world country airliner.
While the request for compensation may be obscene, it is fair to question the cleaning protocols that took place, even while noting that New Orleans (MSY) is an outstation.
There are still many questions left unanswered. While it seems likely the passenger died with COVID-19 based upon symptoms, it is too early to state that definitively. One passenger has made that claim and now disappeared, locking her Twitter account and refusing to comment further. Other passengers note only that the passenger was incapacitated by a cardiac incident. In any case, what a horrible situation all around–to the family members and to the employees and customers onboard. Stay safe out there. If you’re felling ill, please stay home…