Emirates Flight Quarantined at New York JFK With Sick Passengers On Board

Emirates flight EK203 from Dubai to New York JFK landed this morning and was been placed under quarantine awaiting a response from the Centers for Disease Control.

Initial reports were that over 100 passengers had gotten sick on board. Emirates put out a statement saying that the number was only 10, and that everyone else would be allowed to disembark.

It’s possible that the discrepancy in count is a distinction between those with possible fever (10) and those earlier reported to be coughing, although whether that’s the case is not yet known. Here are ambulances responding to the aircraft after landing.

Passengers were required to fill out CDC forms, and crew were taken off the aircraft.

Immediately reaction on twitter suggested possible terror, or pandemic, however such speculation is premature at best. So far there are no reports of other flights with similar issues, or of similar illnesses being reported at the Dubai airport or in Dubai more generally.

Passengers who were not showing symptoms were bused from the quarantine point to the terminal, after having their temperatures taken upon deplaning after already having been through the same on board.

However the determination to release passengers not showing symptoms was not immediately accepted by immigration authorities.

Hopefully it turns out someone just ate the fish.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Ruh roh. Will be on that flight with my family on Saturday — and two of them have been running a temperature and coughing (bacterial bronchitis they picked up from the third family member before we left home).

  2. Several years ago while waiting to board a SIN-MLE flight, we noticed a lot of clearly ill passengers with horrible-sounding coughs in the boarding area. We were the first to board, and managed to wangle masks from the puzzled FAs. Within a few minutes, they were wearing masks and other passengers were trying to cover their mouths with their sleeves for the flight.

    Since then, we have always tucked masks into our carry-ons. There’s debate about their effectiveness, but we figure they’re better than nothing in such situations.

    There’s my travel tip for the day.

  3. I was on a flight from Dubai to SFO we taxied back to the gate twice before taking off to deplane sick passengers, then halfway to SFO the FA announced they had yet another passenger sick in the main cabin. Since Biz was only half full the sick passenger was brought up to biz everyone else was moved to the other side of biz, FC was blocked off ( thankfully). When we landed at SFO Hazmat etc came on board in about an hour they had taken the sick passenger off did a quick check of us in FC then we departed, slowly the balance of the passengers were let out. Not a good experience. What we were told was that the sick passengers were from Pakistan and had food poisoning.

    In any event depending on where your flying from it can be a crap shoot.

  4. I wonder if any of these passengers are coming back from Hajj. With the immense number of visitors from all over the world, it is very common to pick up the “Hajj Cough”, which lasts typically for a month. At least it did for me a few years back. On the flight back on Lufthansa, the FA commented about this and did an excellent job bringing all of us coughing passengers tea and water.

  5. It’s probably MERS or whatever crap virus going around in the desert.
    That’s what you get for playing around w/ camels down there.

  6. Just read that Vanilla Ice was on the flight. Not suggesting that the sick people on the flight had a “bad reaction” to him, but just sayin’…….

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