Airline Passengers Possibly Exposed to TB

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Registered: 11-13-2008
Airline Passengers Possibly Exposed to TB
Mon, 12-02-2013 - 3:18pm

A US citizen who had been travelling internationally was pulled off a US Airways plane after the airline was notified by the CDC that he had active tuberculosis.  While they haven't confirmed yet that he had an infectious disease, they told passengers that the risk for infection was very low since the flight was short.  It still raises questions on liability when someone knowlingly chooses to fly when they are contagious: 

In general, airline passengers are not legally obligated to tell an airline when they are sick, said Jeff Ment, an attorney who specializes in travel law. Unlike cruise lines, which require you to disclose illnesses leading up to the cruise, he said, airlines do not include any language in the ticket purchasing process that would prevent you from traveling.

"If you have some disease and its contagious, where's the threshold?" he asked. "If you have the flu? If you have a really bad cold? I think that once you establish some rule that there has to be notification, it becomes a slippery slope."

As a "common carrier," Ment said, airlines are legally required to do as much as possible to ensure the safety of their passengers.

If a passenger appears too ill to survive the flight without medical assistance, an airline could prevent him from flying, he said. Or if the airline knew that a passenger had a contagious disease, employees could require her to wear a mask during the flight to prevent germs from spreading.

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The article mentions another incident where a man was sued by fellow passengers after similar circumstances.  If you don't vaccinate your children, do you worry about flying with them where they could be exposed by other passengers?  Do you think it's possible for the airlines to do any type of screening for infectious diseases?