San Diego flight crew fears COVID-19 exposure from Celebrity Eclipse cruise passengers

Posted at 5:49 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 20:49:40-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Some local flight attendants are scared for their safety after learning that they unknowingly served several cruise passengers who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Meanwhile, a representative of the airline tells 10News that the passengers were cleared to fly.

Some of the thousands of passengers who were aboard the locally-docked Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship were from Florida, so this past Monday the 30, American Airlines crew members were informed they were flying those passengers home.

10News was provided a copy of a voicemail that a crew member says an American Airlines employee left. Part of the voicemail says: “Hey, just wanted to give you a heads up for your flight tonight, um, from San Diego to Miami that you're going to have a group of, um, Celebrity cruise passengers on board.” The American Airlines employee goes on to explain how the passengers were quarantined for 18 days, adding, “Good news is nobody on board, um, has any type of illness or has tested positive for coronavirus so all of the passengers have been cleared by CDC and local authorities to go home.” shows that American Airlines flight 1209 later departing from San Diego at around 10 p.m.

A flight crew member says a manager reassured them before take-off that the passengers were fine. Yet mid-flight, a news report came on that one of the cruise passengers tested positive.

The next day, March 31, crew members saw a letter that was reportedly sent to cruise passengers which was dated Monday, March 30.

The letter informed cruise passengers that a passenger had tested positive and it was possible that other passengers were exposed. The letter advised passengers to go into self-isolation and avoid public transportation.

The airline crew members tell 10News that they fear they were exposed.

The airline denies knowing about the sick cruise passenger before the flight and says it followed all guidelines from federal, state and local authorities.

As of Tuesday, three cruise ship crew members also tested positive. The results came after thousands had already disembarked, but the cruise line maintains that no one had shown symptoms.

10News reached out to the cruise line for comment about when the airline was notified about the sick passengers. We are waiting for a reply.

The full statement from American Airlines reads, “American works closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and federal agencies under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Both the CDC and U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) have a process for screening passengers upon arrival into the United States. This process occurs for passengers who arrive via air from an international location, or via a cruise ship at U.S. ports of entry. The safety of our customers and team members is our top priority. We will continue to work closely with federal agencies and public health officials on any required health and safety related measures.”