After a woman tested positive for COVID-19 mid-flight, the bathroom became her seat for the next few hours.
Marisa Fotieo was on an Icelandair flight from Chicago to Reykjavik, Iceland, on December 19, en route to her final destination, Switzerland, with her brother and father.
Before the flight, Fotieo told that he had two PCR tests and about 5 rapid tests, all of which came back negative. But about an hour and a half into the flight, Fotieo began to get a sore throat.
“The wheels started spinning in my brain and I thought, ‘Okay, I’m going to do a test.’ It was going to make me feel better, Fotieo told “It was immediately positive. ”
Fotieo, who is fully vaccinated and has received the booster, is an early childhood education teacher in Chicago. It tests constantly as it works with an unvaccinated population.
When he got his results in the plane’s bathroom, over the Atlantic Ocean, he said he started to panic.
“The first flight attendant I met was Rocky. He was hysterical, he was crying,” Fotieo said. “I was nervous about my family that I had just had dinner with. I was nervous about the other people on the plane. I was nervous about myself.”
Ragnhildur Eiríksdóttir, or Rocky, the flight attendant Fotieo ran into, helped calm her down.
“Of course, it’s a stressor when something like this comes up, but that’s part of our job,” Eiríksdóttir told.
The flight attendant said she did her best to try to rearrange the seats so that Fotieo could sit in one place by herself, but the flight was full.
“When he came back and told me that he couldn’t find enough seats, I opted to stay in the bathroom because I didn’t want to be with other people on the flight,” Fotieo said.
A note was then posted on the bathroom door saying it was out of order and that this was Fotieo’s new seat for the remainder of the flight.
GLM reached out to Icelandair on Thursday for comment, but has yet to receive a response.
Policies vary between airlines as to how to handle a covid-positive passenger. This comes just weeks after the US and other countries put in place travel restrictions amid the spread of the omicron variant.
He was in the bathroom for about three hours. Eiríksdóttir continually checked her and provided her with plenty of food and drink.
“I was in shock because I was missing a family trip. I was in shock because I was going to be alone in Iceland. I was in shock because I had 20 families at home who had had me in their classroom,” Fotieo said.
While in the bathroom, she said she purchased Internet access and made calls to notify her school. He also made a video for TikTok, which has been viewed more than 4.3 million times, as of this Thursday afternoon.
Fotieo said she didn’t feel locked in the bathroom and was happy not to be in the main cabin with the rest of the passengers, one of whom was her 70-year-old father.
Quarantined in Iceland
Once the plane landed in Iceland, Fotieo and his family were the last to get off the flight.
Since her brother and father did not show any symptoms, they could take their connecting flight to Switzerland. Fotieo received a rapid test and a PCR at the airport, both of which came back positive, he said.
She was then transferred to a Red Cross hotel where she began her 10-day quarantine.
Doctors visited her three times a day, gave her food and medicines were available. “Honestly, it was an easy experience,” Fotieo said. “It’s partly because of Rocky and the Icelanders. Everyone here is very nice.”
During his quarantine, he continued to document the experience on TikTok. He even received Christmas gifts and snacks from Eiríksdóttir, with whom he had kept in contact through social media.
“I knew I would be alone in Iceland,” Eiríksdóttir said. “So even if you’re isolated, if you have someone there who can bring you something, that’s good. So, I had to be that someone.”
Fotieo’s last day of quarantine was December 30, and her family planned to join her at that time. They will be able to experience Iceland together to make up for lost time, as their flight back to the United States is on January 3.
And Fotieo has plans to meet with Eiríksdóttir before he leaves the country. Eiríksdóttir also mentioned visiting Fotieo when he has flights to Chicago.
“Coming out of this experience, I have a new friend and I have a new perspective on how much flight attendants have to do,” Fotieo said. “Rocky and the flight crew had me, but they also had the other passengers to deal with on the flight.”
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.