View Full Version : American Air 777 Quarantined for Suspected SARS at San Jose

2nd Apr 2003, 02:47
Not really the kind of story that makes people want to fly to Asia these days, unfortunately...


Airplane quarantined over mystery illness
Tuesday, April 1, 2003 Posted: 2:28 PM EST (1928 GMT)

An airliner is quarantined at San Jose International Airport while officials investigate suspected cases of SARS.

SAN FRANCISCO, California (Reuters) -- California officials quarantined an airplane on Tuesday carrying four passengers who reported symptoms of the pneumonia-like virus spreading in Asia that has killed 63 people, a spokeswoman said.

The plane, American Airlines Flight 128 from Tokyo, remained on the tarmac of the San Jose International Airport nearly an hour after landing because two crew and two passengers reported feeling symptoms of the SARS illness, airport spokeswoman Cathy Gaskell said.

A total of 200 people were on board. Health officials are trying to determine what to do next, she said.


2nd Apr 2003, 04:46
Read in Yahoo, the flight stopped in Hong Kong and picked up 5 people including 2 Flight Attendants. Apparently, the 2 F/As are part of the group of 4 who got sick...scary times indeed.

Just in from the hospital...only 3 people affected now. A 74 yr old man and a couple of ladies aged 50 yrs and 70 yrs old. Seem too old to be F/As. Also, none were active F/As, they were all passengers.

2nd Apr 2003, 05:10

BBC New link (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2908021.stm)

2nd Apr 2003, 05:45
Two points:

1. AA fly only to NRT in Asia at present, any pax picked-up there must have been connections if from elsewhere....

2. 50-70 years old....hmmm....could EASILY be AA long-haul 777 FA's!!! Young ones, at that....(no kidding...):eek:

Hope all recover soon, though....

Colonel Blink
2nd Apr 2003, 06:00
Without wishing to sound uncaring, etc. but this is hardly doom and gloom stuff. So far there have been less than 60 deaths worldwide, out of a population of how many million? Less than 2000 reported cases. 60 deaths from 2000 - look at other infectious conditions - TB for example is rife is South east Asia and can lie dormant, festering away for many months before detection. It passes through air con filters and is highly contagious, but are we alarmed about this.

Some idiot in the NZ Herald letters page was asking for all passengers arriving from Asia to be detained for a week to ensure they are SARS free. Whilst completely impractical, this would in fact create more cases by allowing the droplet spread to take place.

Lets keep in touch with reality here, any viral infection can cause similar symptoms - adenovirus, reterovirus, respiratory synctial virus - those at risk (the elderly, the young, those with other conditions) are at risk because they have compromised immune systems already, which is why they succumb. Fit, healthy individuals are at much less risk.

2nd Apr 2003, 06:50

It seems that our passenger hardly care about your statistics.

They've stopped flying.


2nd Apr 2003, 07:59

Please expain your post.

Are you saying that flights are now curtailed to affected areas? Or that they are flying with only crew to check out the safety?

Should we all consider not flying in order to be safe from SARS?

I presume this topic will be moved soon

2nd Apr 2003, 09:03
>>Are you saying that flights are now curtailed to affected areas? Or that they are flying with only crew to check out the safety?<<

I take it you're not very familiar with aviation in Asia these days.


Industry sees Sars as more damaging than Iraq war

Cancellations of flights mounting

Nareerat Wiriyapong Nondhanada Intarakomalyasut

Growing alarm about Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) is having a far-reaching impact on Thailand's travel and tourism industry and is likely to deprive the country of tens of billions of baht in lost revenue.

The epidemic is now seen as affecting the travel industry more than the war in Iraq, which has also taken business away from airlines, hotels and tour operators.

Fear of the virus has nearly wiped out all outbound tour bookings from Thailand between now and June, while inbound tourist numbers have dwindled by 20% in the first quarter.

Airlines including Thai Airways International and Cathay Pacific have cut flights to Hong Kong, the area hardest hit by the virus that originated in southern China. Singapore Airlines is considering more cutbacks of its flights to destinations where traffic was falling.

Leading members of the Thai travel industry said the impact from the Sars crisis on Thailand would worsen, as the death toll rose to 62, with 1,700 infected in many parts of the world.

The Public Health Ministry has declared the virus a serious communicable disease, an emergency move authorising the quarantine of suspected carriers for 14 days, according to minister Sudarat Keyuraphan.

Charoen Wangananont, president of the Association of Domestic Travel, said updated data gathered by the industry showed that 95% of outbound trip bookings up to June had been cancelled.

Before the outbreak, almost 100,000 Thai tourists had booked flights to highly affected countries including Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Vietnam, during the three-month peak travel season...



Mystery illness curbs travel to Asia; airlines cut flights

BRAD FOSS, AP Business Writer Tuesday, April 1, 2003

(04-01) 15:04 PST NEW YORK (AP) --

The flu-like illness originating in Asia that has claimed dozens of lives worldwide is prompting skittish travelers to cancel trips and struggling airlines to reduce service to the region.

United Airlines responded to growing worry Tuesday -- the same day an American Airlines flight from Tokyo was detained in San Jose after passengers complained of illness -- by relaxing its travel cancellation policy. United will allow customers to postpone trips to China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam without penalty. Northwest Airlines said it already had a similar policy in place.

Airline employees, meanwhile, have become frustrated by what they consider a lackadaisical response from the industry regarding their safety...


Colonel Blink
2nd Apr 2003, 09:04
There is risk in everything we do, from getting in and out of bed to driving to work. What I am trying to say is that by stopping a B777 away from the gate, by having gowned and masked officials removing allegedly infected individuals and by having this publicised widely on the media and the net does little to reassure people.

I nearly lost a child from Pertussis (Whooping Cough) a controllable condition that you can be immunised against, but at 3 weeks she was too young to receive this. Unfortunately a child who had not been immunised, who attended the same school as my other children, passed the disease. It was that passing that was the issue. Seeing people at the Hong Kong Sevens sat in the stadium wearing masks (wihich once damp from your breath are as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike) was a silly sight. They would be at more risk if they were in the confines of a B777 for 12 hours than the stadium.

Instead of proclaiming doom and gloom (and dare I say deflect attention away from Iraq), lets reassure people that it IS safe to fly, and it is safe to fly to Asia. I'd be more afraid of malaria or TB.

2nd Apr 2003, 09:33
They would be at more risk if they were in the confines of a B777 for 12 hours than the stadium.

The following article makes some interesting reading. The air quality in a modern jet liner is higher than in an intensive care ward of a hospital. Not saying however that there is no risk of infection due to close proximity in an EY cabin.


2nd Apr 2003, 15:11
An SQ stewardess has been hospitalised:


2nd Apr 2003, 15:44
as with everything, the media blow it up to be some kind doomsday bug. On the radio this morning it mentioned that 1500 people catch Malaria every day.

My American friend in HK wrote this to me and he is not usually given to panic or distress.

It is pretty bad in HK. The gov't closed all the
schools in HK as of today and there are over 500 people
quarantined. An entire block of a housing estate in
Kowloon was hit with the virus and it is traveling

I just returned to BJ this evening and will head up to
Dalian this Wednesday. BJ is also infected and this
frickin' government is holding back information from
the public. This past weekend the Guangdong Provincial
government told the national congress that they didn't
want to tell anybody about it because they're afraid
that tourists and investors will not come to
Guangdong!!! Can you believe it? And last week the
WHO finally got permission from BJ to come to China but
the bastards wouldn't let them go down to Guangdong
province and see what's going on. They don't put any
information out about how to avoid the virus, just
"don't worry, we're working on it". This is madness.

BTW, its quite normal for AA128 NRT-SJC to be on the tarmac full of passengers 1 hour after landing. Immigration have 1 line for US and 1 line for non-US. I always pitied those down the back as it could take up to 1.5 hours to get off the plane and pick up your bags

2nd Apr 2003, 18:03
This is serious. Typical of the Chinese to impose a blackout on the information. Can't the WHO put pressure on them to conform to decent responsible reporting of the facts?

Shouldn't all international flights to China, especially to Beijing and Hong Kong be cancelled until the Chinese sort this out - I certainly wouldn't go there at the moment. I believe that a UK airline is no longer slipping in HKG.

The WHO has a daily update on SARS: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2003_04_02/en/

2nd Apr 2003, 18:13
ColonelBlink, all I can say is that your response is incredibly irresponsible. You are trying to play down an illness that in a matter of weeks as spread through air travel to almost all areas of the globe. This SARS outbreak is very very serious and from ONE sufferer in Canada who was infected in Asia, it has escalated to over 130 suspected cases of which 6 has already died.
Would I travel to or from Hong Kong,China and Singapore at this time? Not on your life. It might not be a priority in your life at this present time but if you were in Singapore or Hong Kong where everyday life is disrupted with all schools closed and more than 1500 people in quarantine it might change the way you perceive this illness. Let's hope and pray that where ever you at, it's free from this SARS virus.

Colonel Blink
3rd Apr 2003, 05:44
Consider the facts.

1) the normal strains of influenza that spread from South East Asia on average cause 25% of those who become infected to succumb. With SARS the death rate from those infected is currently sitting at 6%. Admittedly people can be immunised against the former.

2) Many years ago the doom pundits predicted a similar pandemic following Legionnaires Disease. It is now identified and is manageable.

3) By isolating those infected you can prevent the spread, and those that have the infection will be identifiable and generally aware. So there is a choice - screen at point of departure.

4) From todays New Zealand Herald (and remember it was the NZ PM Helen Clark who was one of the first people to express serious concern, hence create the hystreria)
Dr Tukuitonga (Director of Public Health) said latest figures suggested 96 of every 100 people who got Sars would recover. The four who would die would be likely to have an underlying medical condition that made them susceptible, such as diabetes. and remember you have to catch it first! (so perhaps the only people who should be advised not to travel are the at-risk groups - the very young, immunocompromised, pre-existing cardio-respiratory dysfunction, etc)
See here for more (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=3350509&thesection=news&thesubsection=general&thesecondsubsection=)

5) The paranoia has got to the extent over here that a conference on developing tourism has banned (yes banned) 43 Chinese delegates from attending, refusing them accommodation because they may infect them with SARS.

Please be realistic and do not shoot aviation in the foot AGAIN!

(PS I have friends coming to visit via Singapore this weekend, I will welcome them and am not afraid, because as a former health professional I believe I have some degree of knowledge about what I have been talking about. I will not be recommending they rebook)

Edited for naff spelling

3rd Apr 2003, 11:15
In a world that has endured multiple doses of media hysteria over the last 18 months, a previously unknown fatal disease which suddenly increases geometrically on a global footprint, killing health-care workers in the process, bears some watching.

If Col. Blink knows where the switch is to turn this off, he should flick it.

Barring that, one can hardly blame people for making cautious choices in the hope of prolonging their lives.

What airlines can do to minimize the domage is respond proactively (& in the press) by making some comforting noises about increased standards of cleanliness in cabin maintenance, use of additional air refresh procedures as a matter of "caution", health-related interviews of pax prior to boarding, etc.

Some cautious travelers will delay and then give up entirely on the Great Wall, but the life-in-a-suitcase set will bounce back quickly enough when they see acknowledgement and plausibly appropriate directed action by the carriers.

Colonel Blink
4th Apr 2003, 03:53
Regrettably Arcniz, I don't have the switch (or know the whereabouts). Watching, yes but sensibly, not with the level of panic expressed in some parts. I support your comments regarding putting a positive response forward, much in the same way that some airlines handled that other 'airline killer' DVT. Only by being pro-active can they prevent further damage.

4th Apr 2003, 17:04
This all needs to be put into perspective. Someone mentioned malaria earlier. It is not 1500 people catching malaria every day, it is (at least) 1500 people DYING of malaria every day. Go check the statistics on the WHO website if you don't believe me.

For influenza and pneumonia, these KILL about 65,000 people every year in the USA alone. (Source: CDC website).

For more detail, go here:
for a copy of a memo (with more detailed source references) I have written within my company to try to put this all in perspective and restore some sanity.

6th Apr 2003, 18:28
Does anyone know if BA and Virgin are still operating flights using their HKG/SIN based national cabin crews?

6th Apr 2003, 21:38
Another SARS scare incident with an RJ yesterday:

Sunday, April 6, 2003 12:00AM EST

Jet held at RDU; passenger checked for SARS

From Staff Reports

MORRISVILLE -- A regional jet was isolated at Raleigh-Durham International Airport for nearly two hours Saturday as authorities checked a passenger who became ill during a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth.
The passenger reportedly told a flight attendant he had been in Asia recently, and precautions were taken until medical personnel were satisfied that he did not have SARS.

The Delta Air Lines regional jet landed at RDU at 5:05 p.m., said Karen Dunton, an airport spokeswoman. The plane was parked in a designated area and the sick passenger was transported to a Raleigh hospital, she said.

Once that passenger was cleared, the other passengers were released about 7 p.m.



>>Does anyone know if BA and Virgin are still operating flights using their HKG/SIN based national cabin crews?<<

This article mentions a BA crew swap in BKK:

Airlines reduce flights by 18%

Moves come after WHO advice of SARS outbreak

Airlines cut 18 percent of their flights in and out of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region the day after the World Health Organization warned people not to travel there because of a deadly disease outbreak, officials said yesterday.

Responding to the WHO travel warning, British Airways temporarily suspended direct flights from London to Hong Kong, its Website said.

All of BA's London-Hong Kong services have been stopping in Bangkok for crew change since Wednesday. That will continue until at least the end of April, according to Grace Ng, a spokeswoman for the Civil Aviation Department.

Malaysia Airlines is temporarily cutting six routes to Hong Kong and Singapore, which have both been hit hard by severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, the mystery disease that has killed at least 82 people worldwide.

Hong Kong's two airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair, have already reduced flights because of the twin blows they have taken from the Iraq war and the spread of SARS, which has killed 17 people in Hong Kong. Six SARS patients have died in Singapore.

Out of 550 scheduled flights at Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok airport on Thursday, 98 of them were scrapped, Airport Authority spokesman Chris Donnolley said yesterday.

All but one were passenger flights. At least 72 passenger flights and five cargo flights were canceled yesterday, according to an Airport Authority Website, but Donnolley said final figures for yesterday wouldn't be available until the end of the day.

Most of Hong Kong's flight cancellations have been to other places that have had SARS deaths: Singapore, Canada and Vietnam. But services to other destinations including Taiwan Province, the Philippines and Japan have also been affected, Ng said.

Donnolley said about 300 scheduled flights had been canceled since Sunday, compared to 100 cancellations in the previous week and the normal weekly number of about 35.

Business travelers have been postponing trips and vacationers have been staying away from Hong Kong, where at least 734 people have been sickened by the disease.

Donnelley said the airport has stepped up cleaning measures to try to avoid any infection from spreading, and some airlines have been screening passengers and refusing to board anybody who appears to have SARS symptoms.

Malaysia Airlines' cancellations of six flights to Singapore and Hong Kong are effective April 4-30 for the Hong Kong flights, and April 7-May 28 for the Singapore routes.

Four of the six canceled flights are daily, while the other two only fly on weekends, the airline said in a statement released late on Thursday.

Malaysian transport officials said earlier this week that flights to countries and regions affected by SARS would be reduced.

The airline spokesman yesterday declined to say why flights to China's mainland are unchanged, but said that it was monitoring the situation.

(The Associated Press)


Flyer Flier
6th Apr 2003, 23:04
Ref Shaman's Question,
On yesterdays HKG/LHR, the Virgin local HKG cabin crew were still operating.
Now my question is to anyone having flown into the states in the last couple of days, are the port health authority handing out questionaires enquiring on crews location prior to their arrival in the US?
Having just done two HKGs in the last 10 days, I have now got two JFKs coming up and would like any info on planned quarantine or measures that might arise.
Currently on arriving in HKG you have to state your previous locations, plus declare yourself symptom free. Is this the current case in the US. Or am I going to end up on Ellis Island for a stop over as per the good ole days!!!:(

9th Apr 2003, 04:29
I think they should quarrantine ALL AA crews for at least the next 5 years, preferably in a leper colony somewhere desolate.

9th Apr 2003, 04:32
And maybe Danny should start charging you $60/hour for the free therapy he's providing......

10th Apr 2003, 12:24
Are you talking about aromatherapy?

10th Apr 2003, 17:11
It is not 1500 people catching malaria every day, it is (at least) 1500 people DYING of malaria every day.

Yes but only poor people without oil so they are not important.