Woman Tests COVID-Positive Mid-Flight, Quarantines in Airplane Lavatory

A Chicago resident who recently traveled to Iceland and self-tested COVID-19 positive in mid-air, voluntarily isolated herself inside the airplane lavatory for the duration of the flight.

Marisa Fotieo was aboard an Icelandair flight with her father and brother on December 19, heading to Reykjavik en route to their final destination in Switzerland when, somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, she felt a sore throat coming on.


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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

Despite being fully vaccinated, boostered, and having obtained negative results from two PCR tests and about five rapid antigen tests before her flight, she wanted to be on the safe side. As an early childhood teacher who interacts with an unvaccinated population on a daily basis, Fotieo is used to testing regularly.

“The wheels started turning in my brain and I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to just go take a test.’ It was going to make me feel better,” Fotieo told CNN. “Immediately, it came back positive.” She was in the airplane lavatory when her results popped up and began panicking.

Flight attendant Ragnhildur Eiríksdóttir, who goes by “Rocky”, was the first to find Fotieo and help her regain composure. “Of course, it’s a stress factor when something like this comes up, but that’s part of our job,” Eiríksdóttir told CNN.

“The first flight attendant I ran into was Rocky. I was hysterical, I was crying,” Fotieo said. “I was nervous for my family who I just had dinner with. I was nervous for the other people on the plane. I was nervous for myself.”

Although Eiríksdóttir attempted to rearrange seating assignments so that Fotieo could sit apart from others, the flight was simply too full. “When she came back and told me she couldn’t find enough seating, I opted to stay in the bathroom because I did not want to be around others on the flight,” Fotieo said.

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Screenshot from Marisa Fotieo’s TikTok post as she self-isolates in an airplane lavatory. (photo via TikTok/marisaefotieo)

“I was in shock that I was missing out on a family trip. I was in shock that I was going to be in Iceland alone. I was in shock that I had 20 families back home that just had me in their classroom,” Fotieo said.

With the toilet serving as her new seat, they hung an “out of order” sign on the lavatory door, and Eiríksdóttir checked in on Fotieo regularly for the next three hours, bringing her plenty of drinks and snacks.

Fotieo said that she purchased internet access and phoned her school to apprise them of her COVID-19 status. She also posted a TikTok video from inside the lavatory that has since racked up millions of views.

With a uniquely positive attitude, Fotieo said she didn’t feel cramped inside the bathroom and was just glad to be able to isolate from the rest of the passengers in the main cabin, her own 70-year-old father among them.

Upon their arrival in Iceland, Fotieo and her family waited until all the other passengers had deplaned before exiting the aircraft. At the airport in Reykjavik, she took rapid and PCR tests, both of which came back positive. She was then taken to a Red Cross hotel, where she would quarantine for the next 10 days.

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