After a The woman tested positive for COVID-19 midday, the bathroom became her seat for the next few hours.
Marisa Fotieo on an Icelandair flight from Chicago to Reykjavik, Iceland, on December 19, en route to her final destination of Switzerland with her brother and father.
Before the flight, Fotieo told CNN she did two PCR tests and about five rapid tests, all of which came back negative. But about an hour and a half after the flight, Fotieo started to feel a sore throat.
“The wheels started spinning in my brain and I thought, ‘Okay, I’m just going to take a test.’ Fotieo told CNN, “Immediately, it came back positive.”
Fotieo, who is fully vaccinated and booster shot, is a preschool teacher in Chicago. She tests continuously since she works with an unvaccinated population.
When she got the results in the plane bathroom, over the Atlantic, she said she started to panic.
“The first flight attendant I met was Rocky. I was excited, I cried,” Fotieo said. “I’m worried about my family, who I just dined with. I worry about the others on the plane. I worry about myself.”
Ragnhildur Eiríksdóttir, or Rocky, the flight attendant that Fotieo ran into, calms her down.
“Of course, it’s a stress factor when something like this happens, but it’s part of our job,” Eiríksdóttir told CNN.
The flight attendant said she did what she could to try to rearrange her seats so that Fotieo could sit alone, but the flight was full.
“When she came back and told me she couldn’t find a seat, I chose to stay in the bathroom because I didn’t want to be around other people on the flight,” Fotieo said.
Then a note was posted on the bathroom door announcing that it was out of service and that it was Fotieo’s new seat for the rest of the flight.
CNN reached out to Icelandair on Thursday for comment but has yet to receive a response.
Policies vary between airlines on how to handle COVID-positive passengers. This comes just weeks after the US and other countries introduced travel restrictions amid the spread of the Omicron variant.
Fotieo had been in the bathroom for about three hours. Eiríksdóttir constantly checked on her and provided her with plenty of food and drink.
“I’m shocked that I missed out on a family trip. I’m shocked that I’m going to Iceland alone. I’m shocked that I have 20 families back home with just me in their class,” Fotieo said. speak.
While in the bathroom, she said she bought internet access and called her school. She also did a TikTok video, has been viewed more than 4.3 million times, as of Thursday afternoon.
Fotieo said she doesn’t feel crammed in the bathroom and is just happy not in the main compartment with the rest of the passengers, one of whom is her 70-year-old father.
QUARANTINED IN ICELAND
When the plane landed in Iceland, Fotieo and her family were the last to leave the flight.
Since her brother and father did not have any symptoms, they were free to take a connecting flight to Switzerland. Fotieo had both a rapid test and an airport PCR done, both of which came back positive, she said.
She was then taken to a Red Cross hotel, where she began a 10-day quarantine.
Doctors examined her three times a day, and she was provided with readily available meals and medications. “Honestly, it was an easy experience,” says Fotieo. “It’s partly Rocky and Icelandic. The people here are so kind.”
During the quarantine, she continued to document the experience on TikTok. She even receives Christmas presents and snacks from Eiríksdóttir, with whom she is in regular contact via social media.
“I knew she would be alone in Iceland,” said Eiríksdóttir. “So even if it’s isolated, if you have someone there that can bring you something good. So I just have to be that person.”
Fotieo’s last day of quarantine was December 30, and her family had planned to meet her afterwards. They will be able to experience Iceland together to make up for lost time, as their flight returns to the United States on January 3.
And Fotieo plans to meet Eiríksdóttir before she leaves the country. Eiríksdóttir also mentioned visiting Fotieo when she had a flight to Chicago.
“After this experience, I made a new friend and I have a new perspective on the job level of flight attendants,” says Fotieo. “Rocky and the crew had me, but they also had other passengers to deal with on the flight.”