Authorities arrested a couple that boarded a United Airlines flight to Hawaii. The two passengers had a four-year old child as well. They travelled from San Francisco to Wailua, Hawaii. They both reside on the island.
In a time when airlines are trying to increase passenger confidence in travel, events like these are very frustrating to see. They are also illegal, and have consequences that go beyond an airline ban.
The arrested couple took a Covid-19 test at San Francisco International Airport. They both tested positive. Personnel at the airport’s Quarantine Station notified them about their results immediately. They also told the two passengers to isolate and not board the flight to Kauai. The couple did so anyway. It is not clear how the couple were able to board their flight after testing positive for Covid-19.
However, authorities at Lihue Airport identified and arrested the couple on arrival. Both passengers were charged with Reckless Endangerment. Their actions amounted to “placing the passengers of the flight in danger of death”, in the words of the Kauai Police Department. They posted bail, at $1,000 each. A family member in Hawaii took charge of the four year-old child. Child Protective Services were notified.
Arrested Couple Misled Airline
Hawaii has had some of the strictest pandemic rules on air travel in the US. Kauai island now requires non-essential travellers to quarantine for 14 days. Individual airlines have been working hard to come up with programs that would ease these restrictions. These revolve around testing protocols, that would be acceptable to authorities in Hawaii.
Alaska Airlines, Air Canada and United Airlines have all been working on such programs and related initiatives. They will doubtless want to reassure the public that events like these don’t happen again. United didn’t wish to comment on specific customers like the arrested couple, but released this statement:
“The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, which is why we have various policies and procedures as part of a multi-layered approach to create a safer travel environment.
“While we don’t require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before travel, customers are required to complete a ‘Ready to Fly’ checklist acknowledging they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days”.
It will be interesting to see how processes change after such events. United’s statement indicates that the arrested couple mislead them. There is no reference to airport authorities, however. In Hawaii, police Chief Todd Raybuck made this statement:
“The Kauai Police Department, working alongside our county and state partners, remain diligent in protecting the health and safety of our island. We continue to request visitors and residents alike to follow the governor’s emergency rules and take all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19”.