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United Planes That Carried Ebola Passenger In Service, Uncleaned

On Tuesday, September 30, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that a patient in Dallas, Texas was confirmed to have been diagnosed with Ebola.  Later information showed that the patient had traveled on United Airlines through Washington-Dulles on his way to Texas from Brussels.

We formerly wrote an article about the possibility of contracting Ebola when flying, and the chances are slim, but with the fear running rampant about the potential for an Ebola outbreak, United should get to cleaning those planes, for the sake of PR (and it would never hurt to clean a plane, even one that hasn’t carried a  passenger infected with Ebola).

What’s most troubling about this is the fact that the two planes that were used by United for those flights have already flown to over a dozen destinations, both foreign and domestic, since the infected passenger flew on the airline.  The planes have not been cleaned, and there is a report within United that has said that the planes are not cleaned well enough between flights to disinfect the Ebola virus (no surprise here for those of us that fly).

In fairness to United Airlines, they were the ones that released the itinerant of the passenger, after the government said there was no need to release it because he was not showing symptoms at the time he was on the flight.  United has also been working to get in touch with the passengers that were on the flight with him.

The good news here is that the planes should no longer be infected, given that the CDC says the germs can only live outside the human body for 6 days.  However, some passengers may still be weary about the prospect of having flown on a plane that carried the infected passenger.  Perhaps, on a measure of good will, United should take the two aircraft out of service for a cleaning?

United has not yet replied to our request for comment, but if the scabies outbreak taught us anything about United, it is that is does not necessarily always respond well to a crisis.  The country is worried about the prospect of an Ebola outbreak here within the United States.  The airline, and any airline that may be impacted in the future, should do its due diligence to ensure their aircraft are free of any potential germs.

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2 Comments on United Planes That Carried Ebola Passenger In Service, Uncleaned

  1. Why would United take them out of service to cleaning and how would that show good will? The guy wasn’t symptomatic on the flights, and therefore it was not contagious to begin with. Not to mention that United was unaware that he even had Ebola until after the germs were already gone. Such a sensationalist headline.

    • Nothing sensationalist about it…the planes were still in service and they were not cleaned, as declared by a United spokeswoman. Those are facts, not sensationalism. If you read the story in its entirety, you would have noted that the story clearly states that the infection lives for 6 days and therefore the planes were not still infected. Secondly, when it comes to business, perception is what matters, not reality. Although the risk of contracting Ebola from flying is low, stocks have gone down over fears from people flying. For consumers, fear is preventing some people from traveling. If United is viewed, whether rightly or wrongly, that their planes are unclean after carrying Ebola victims, it will hurt them. This is PR 101: perception is reality.

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