Frontier's 'Ebola plane' returns to service 15 days after Amber Vinson flew on it


After two weeks and several cleanings, Frontier returned this aircraft to service.  Photo: Colin Brown/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons. 

After two weeks and several cleanings, Frontier returned this aircraft to service.  Photo: Colin Brown/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons. 

Frontier Airlines returned the 'Ebola plane' to service on Wednesday, 15 days after nurse Amber Vinson flew on it from Cleveland to Dallas, an airline spokesman told me on Thursday. 

After Vinson contracted Ebola, the aircraft was out of service for two weeks, spending much of that time in a hanger at Denver International Airport. The Airbus A320 has been repeatedly cleaned  and seat covers and carpets near Vinson's seat were replaced. The aircraft poses absolutely no threat to anyone. Many Frontier employees, including CEO David Segal, have flown on the aircraft to show how safe it is. 

Federal authorities never asked Frontier to  remove the plane from service. But the airline did so anyway, probably more to put customers at ease than because of any public health issue. Here's what Frontier President Barry Biffle told employees in a letter on Oct. 17 after he flew the aircraft to a television interview in New York. The airplane has 'Finn the Tiger Shark' on its tail, so Biffle called it "Finn" in Frontier shorthand:

The CDC and other experts have confirmed repeatedly that Finn is not contagious; however, as we have demonstrated through this entire event, we are using an abundance of caution because the public does not completely understand the risks associated with Ebola and how it is transmitted. Therefore, to ensure our customers have no fears about flying our aircraft, we have chosen to keep Finn away from the other animals for a little while longer. 

Also on its own accord, Frontier removed two crews from service -- the pilots and flight attendants who flew Vinson to Cleveland and those who flew her home to Dallas. They were to be off duty for 21 days, a period that is presumably ending soon. 

It's worth noting that Vinson was pronounced Ebola-free and left the hospital this week.

The aircraft's registration number is N220FR. You can find out where it has flown on FlightAware.com.