JetBlue has sacked a flight attendant who apparently claimed she was being held hostage and feared being trafficked in Jamaica during a short vacation on the island. Kalina Collier had actually been told to go into quarantine for 14-days after testing positive for COVID-19 and had been allowed to stay in her resort hotel for the duration rather than spending the isolation period in a government institution.
“After an investigation, the crewmember in question is no longer with JetBlue,” confirmed corporate communications manager Derek Dombrowski. “We continue to offer our apologies for the frustration and concern this incident has caused and reiterate our confidence in the health protocols Jamaica has put in place,” the statement from the airline continued.
“We deeply apologize to the people of Jamaica and the Jamaican government for the concern and frustration this incident has caused,” Dombrowski added. The flight attendant had been suspended pending an investigation after her story went viral last week.
Kalina arrived in Jamaica on January 28 for a short weekend away but when she took a COVID-19 rapid antigen test a couple of days before her return flight she tested positive for the novel Coronavirus.
Kalina took a second antigen test which returned a negative result and which in turn prompted Jamaica’s Ministry of Health and Wellness to order a more sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. This also came back positive and Kalina was ordered to go into quarantine.
But in a now-infamous Instagram Live, Kalina said the tests were unreliable and that she had been forced to stay in unsanitary conditions. Her followers became worried that she was at risk of being kidnapped and people trafficked. Calls to one trafficking hotline nearly doubled after Kalina’s social media posts.
The ex-flight attendant attempted to clarify that she wasn’t in danger and that reports of her being held hostage were false but by this point, her comments had already attracted widespread criticism in Jamaica.
She was allowed to leave Jamaica last week after completing her hotel quarantine and testing negative for COVID-19.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.