Cruise passengers on a charter flight home from Barbados were held for several hours on the Virgin Atlantic plane at London Gatwick after the crew and several passengers became ill.
The plane carrying 448 passengers was held on the tarmac at the airport after landing. One of the passengers, Trevor Wilson, posted a picture on Twitter, saying they had been held on the plane for at least an hour and a half.
— Trevor Wilson (@trevwilson19) March 6, 2019
MSC Cruises in a statement confirmed that the plane was met by emergency services at the airport when it landed at 5.25am.
According to Wilson, passengers had developed “a bad chesty cough, possibly a chest infection” and that it had started with the flight crew.
The passengers were returning from a week-long cruise in the Caribbean aboard the Fantasia-class Preziosa. The 3960-passenger ship is homeporting in the Western Caribbean until the end of March, sailing one and two-week roundtrip itineraries from Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Martinique and Guadalupe.
“We are still investigating what may have caused the illness and we are currently waiting for further updates from Gatwick Airport medical services,” MSC Cruises said in a statement. “What we do know is that on MSC Preziosa, no cases of acute gastroenteritis have been reported in the past 14 days.”
Virgin Atlantic also said in a statement that it was investigating the incident.
“This flight was exclusively cruise passengers from the MSC Preziosa. The illness seems to have originated on board ship not the plane. Five members of cabin crew became sick on flight,” Wilson said on Twitter.
It’s not clear what he was basing that on, or why the crew were the first to become ill if the sickness originated on the ship.
Thirty people were assessed and treated, two of whom have been taken to hospital, according to the BBC.
When passengers were eventually allowed to leave the plane they were taken to a holding centre to be assessed by medical personnel. Those without symptoms were allowed to leave after several hours.
MSC Cruises said it sent four staff members to Gatwick to provide further assistance to all passengers.