The passengers were okay when they boarded QF28 but three hours into the flight, reported symptoms consistent with a highly contagious infection norovirus, the leading cause of gastroenteritis. The group had been on a pilgrimage to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil for World Youth Day to see Pope Francis. The airline believes the students were sick before boarding.
A team of paramedics met the 747 when it landed after a 13 hour and 51 minute flight at Sydney Airport last Thursday at 17:27h (5:27pm). The plane was quarantined and parked in a remote part of the airport. Three of the passengers were so ill, they were taken in stretchers off the plane. The pilots and flight crew were not affected by the illness, and other passengers were processed through customs. The plane was then disinfected. Sixteen patients spent the night in two Sydney hospitals.
This morning after the flight landed, Qantas sent an email selling sale Santiago sale fares. The reaction to Qantas advertising the cheap Santiago flights was both swift and bemused on Social Media outlets. Qantas got its advertising timing wrong on another occasion in 2011 when they invited people to tweet about how Qantas was a luxury experience. This was shortly after management had grounded the entire Qantas fleet. The reaction that time from passengers and ex passengers was swift and furious.
More on the ill students: