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.