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Rolly: Delta's contagious flier could change flight — for a price

Published August 13, 2014 7:28 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Haley Sousa and her husband had been preparing for more than a year to go to Brazil to see the World Cup and had spent a considerable sum on game tickets and airfare.

They were scheduled to fly out of Salt Lake City on June 14, but Sousa fell ill with an upset stomach June 4.

Her condition worsened until, on June 6, she woke up with cramps and a fever. She went to the emergency room at LDS Hospital, where she was diagnosed with colitis and sepsis. A doctor determined that her condition had been caused by salmonella.

Her primary-care physician told her June 13 she was still very contagious and that she should neither travel nor return to work until at least June 17. So she went to the Salt Lake City International Airport on June 14 to reschedule her flight to June 19.

She says a Delta representative was skeptical of the note she had brought from the hospital doctor warning that she was too contagious to be on an airplane.

After talking to Sousa's primary-care physician who backed up what the hospital doctor had said, the representative referred the matter to her supervisor, who also was skeptical. She was told she could change her flight for an additional $3,378 — nearly three times the amount of her original ticket of $1,200. They explained that soaring demand for flights to Brazil because of the World Cup had boosted prices.

So she boarded the plane June 14, as originally planned, and carefully avoided other passengers while trying not to touch anything. She arrived in Brazil without incident.

Delta spokesman Anthony Black said the carrier's customer service and reservation agents are trained to work with passengers to address their circumstances and concerns, using their best judgment. He speculated the agents may have been wary about her contagious condition since she went to the airport to seek the rescheduling.

Black said that, under Delta policy, she would have been offered a full refund or allowed to use the ticket for another flight within a year.

Davis County geography lesson • Bountiful, to its credit, stages an annual international arts and cultural festival to bring the talents and ways of life from countries worldwide to the Davis County city.

Also to its credit, the Bountiful/Davis Art Center recently sent an update to supporters letting them know that performers from Sierra Leone "won't be making it to Summerfest '14 this year. We look forward to having them at a future time."

Sierra Leone is one of the countries in Africa hit by the deadly Ebola outbreak, so the cancellation of their trip is understandable.

The message added that patrons still will be able to enjoy performances by groups from Taiwan, Lithuania, Bangladesh and Indonesia. And here's where the announcement becomes educational for some folks in Bountiful.

"We have also had many people approach us with concerns about the international groups that are able to come and the Ebola outbreak. Please be aware that our performers and their countries have not been affected by the Ebola outbreak as it is only currently associated with West Africa."

Yes, folks, a news flash: Taiwan, Lithuania, Bangladesh and Indonesia are not in Africa.

prolly@sltrib.com