The “sick passenger syndrome” is officially a trend.
In the space of two days, at least three transatlantic flights this week were held on the tarmac after arriving in the U.S., so that passengers who had fallen sick inflight could be checked by health officials.
In the latest episode on Thursday, two American Airlines flights to Philadelphia from Europe reported that a total of a dozen passengers who arrived were exhibiting flu-like symptoms. The travelers had originated their journey in Saudi Arabia, where it's believed they had celebrated the Hajj in the holy city of Mecca, officials said.
That suggested a link with the first incident, when an Emirates Airline Flight from Dubai was effectively quarantined when it landed at JFK Airport in New York. Initial reports suggested that as many as 100 passengers were sick, but that was later revised to 19 passengers and crew members in New York reporting feeling ill, while only 10 were hospitalized. All those who were sick tested positive for the flu or common viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Federal health officials said they are looking into the incidents, and in particular want to know why the passengers in question, some of whom were visibly ill when they boarded, were allowed to fly.