COVID-19: Woman tests positive mid-flight, quarantines in airplane bathroom

Michigan schoolteacher Marisa Fotieo isolated herself in an airplane's bathroom after testing positive with an at-home rapid COVID-19 test on her flight to Iceland.

 A Boeing 737 MAX airplane lands after a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, US June 29, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/KAREN DUCEY)
A Boeing 737 MAX airplane lands after a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, US June 29, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/KAREN DUCEY)

Michigan schoolteacher Marisa Fotieo had undergone all of her necessary requirements before boarding her flight from Chicago to Reykjavik, Iceland on December 20th. She had taken a COVID-19 PCR test before her flight, wore a mask throughout the duration of her trip and was not experiencing symptoms ahead of her planned vacation to Iceland.

That is until her throat began feeling sore mid-flight.

"I just took my rapid test and I brought it into the bathroom, and within what felt like two seconds there were two lines (indicating a positive test)," Fotieo told NBC News in an interview. “There [are] 150 people on the flight, and my biggest fear was giving it to them,” she said.

Fotieo, with the help of IcelandAir flight attendant Ragnhildur "Rocky" Eiríksdóttir, was able to isolate in one of the airplane bathrooms for the five-hour remainder of the flight.

"She made sure I had everything I needed for the next five hours from food to drinks and constantly checked on me assuring me I would be all right," Fotieo wrote in an email to NBC News.

Fotieo then filmed a now-viral video that she uploaded to TikTok with the captions “POV: you test positive for COVID while over the Atlantic Ocean” and “Shout out to @Icelandair for my VIP quarantine quarters.”

@marisaefotieo Shout out to @Icelandair for my VIP quarantine quarters.. #luxuryliving #imsolucky #covid #vaccinated #fyp #viralvideotiktok #quarantine ♬ I'm So Lucky Lucky - Grandzz

Fotieo had to isolate herself at a hotel for seven days upon landing in Reykjavik, meaning she would be forced to spend the Christmas holiday alone in a foreign country. Luckily, the same flight attendant from Fotieo’s flight paid her a visit in her hotel room, sending her a Christmas care package with flowers, cookies and a miniature Christmas tree. "She bought me flowers and a little Christmas tree with lights so I could hang it," Fotieo said. "It was so heartfelt, and she's just an angel."

Her ordeal came amid the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, which continues to fuel a surge in cases across the US. Studies suggest that the Omicron variant is milder than previous variants but more transmissible. According to the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) tracker, the seven-day daily average of new cases is at 277,000 in the United States – the highest level since the start of the pandemic – although death rates and hospitalizations remain relatively steady.