A Michigan schoolteacher who tested positive for COVID-19 in the middle of a flight to Iceland a few days before Christmas says she ended up voluntarily isolated in the plane’s cramped bathroom for the last five hours of the trip to Reykjavik.
“It was a crazy experience,” Marisa Fotieo told NBC News’ Steve Patterson in an interview that aired on TODAY Wednesday.
Fotieo captured the scene of her journey in the plane’s tiny bathroom in a TikTok video that has been viewed more than 3 million times.
“Shout out to @Icelandair for my VIP quarantine quarters,” she wrote.
Fotieo said her throat began to hurt about halfway through her Dec. 20 Icelandair flight out of Chicago. She had brought some rapid test kits with her in case she needed them while traveling.
“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 said.
Fotieo opted to stay isolated in the airplane bathroom for the remainder of the flight, which she estimated was five hours.
“There’s 150 people on the flight, and my biggest fear was giving it to them,” she said.
Fotieo said she was able to make it through being cooped up in the bathroom thanks to the care of flight attendant Ragnhildur “Rocky” Eiríksdóttir.
“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 said she had to isolate again in a Red Cross hotel upon arriving in Iceland’s capital, and before she got off the plane, Eiríksdóttir gave Fotieo her name and Instagram handle to keep in touch in case she needed anything.
Eiríksdóttir then went above and beyond to make sure Fotieo had a happy holiday despite her circumstances.
“She bought me flowers and a little Christmas tree with lights so I could hang it,” Fotieo told Patterson. “It was so heartfelt, and she’s just an angel.”
NBC News reached out to Icelandair for comment, but has not received a response.
Fotieo’s journey to Iceland comes as the surge of the omicron variant of COVID-19 has created chaos for travelers.
On Tuesday, more than 1,100 U.S. flights were canceled due to inclement weather and staffing shortages caused by the spread of omicron. The country also hit a record seven-day average for cases on Tuesday with more than 262,000, with omicron making up an estimated 58% of the cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Scott Stump is a New Jersey-based freelancer who has been a regular contributor for TODAY.com since 2011, producing news stories and features across the trending, pop culture, sports, parents, pets, health, style, food and TMRW verticals. He has tackled every assignment from interviewing astronauts on the International Space Station to prison inmates training service dogs for military veterans.
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