A JetBlue Airways employee whose Jamaican vacation turned into an international controversy after she claimed she was being held hostage in the Caribbean nation is no longer with the U.S.-based carrier.
Derek Dombrowski, a spokesperson with JetBlue Airways, said Kalina Collier has been let go after an investigation.
“We continue to offer our apologies for the frustration and concern this incident has caused and reiterate our confidence in the health protocols Jamaica has put in place,” he said.
The now-former stewardess traveled to Jamaica with two friends in January and was slated to return Feb. 1. But under new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, she first had to take a COVID-19 test. An initial antigen test came back positive, followed by a negative result an hour later, Jamaican officials said. On Feb. 2, she was given a gold-standard PCR test, which came back positive.
Per government guidelines, she was sent to quarantine for 14 days and provided a room in her luxury hotel, Ocean Coral Spring Resort in Trelawny, free of charge.
But in a live Instagram video, Collier complained she’d been put far away from the main part of the hotel. She griped that the room didn’t have pictures on the walls and that the water came out brown.
“I’m in a room by myself. It’s dark in there and it’s dirty,” Collier said. “We are put in the rooms with no key to get out.”
Collier also raised doubts about her positive COVID-19 test results.
“I’m a [expletive] flight attendant. I work with COVID and I’ve never had COVID,” she said.
She later described the visit as turning “into the trip from hell,” before adding that she got “scared” after seeing a security guard outside of her hotel room.
“Because there is someone there to attack me if I tried to leave. Now I’m being held hostage,” she said.
Two days ago, Collier issued a statement on her Instagram page, writing that she appreciated the support and adding that, “I have said a long time ago that I was never missing, nor was I kidnapped.”
Collier could not be reached by the Miami Herald for comment about her firing.
The incident spawned conspiracy theories, death threats to government officials and calls for a boycott of the Caribbean nation after Collier’s Instagram video went viral. The footage was later removed, but not before considerable damage was done; some were convinced that she had been abducted. Even the U.S. Embassy in Kingston was forced to get involved.
In a statement, the embassy said it is aware of reports of a U.S. citizen who “claimed to have been held against the individual’s will.”
“The U.S. government provides all appropriate consular services to U.S. citizens in emergency situations overseas and fully investigates claims of unlawful detention; however, due to the Privacy Act of 1974, we cannot release any information about a U.S. citizen without his or her written consent,” the statement read.
The Jamaica Observer quoted Jamaica police as saying Collier’s claim that she was being held against her will by a local hotel was “false, baseless and mischievous.”
All visitors to Jamaica are required to stay in the country’s COVID-19 “Resilient Corridor,” which includes hotels, restaurants, villas and other accommodations for visitors.
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