A JetBlue flight attendant who caused an international ruckus after claiming she was held hostage in Jamaica has been fired by the airline, the Miami Herald reports.
Kalina Collier traveled to Jamaica from the U.S. in January with two friends for vacation. She was scheduled to return on Feb.1, but was detained after her mandated pre-travel COVID-19 test came back positive. Collier was sent to quarantine for 14 days, per the local government rules, in a room at the luxury hotel where she had been staying. The room was provided to her free of charge.
She later posted a live Instagram video complaining about the accommodations, claiming she was isolated in a far part of the hotel in a room that was “dirty” and with “no key to get out.” She also cast doubt on the validity of her COVID-19 test results, saying “I’m a [expletive] flight attendant. I work with COVID and I’ve never had COVID.”
In another Instagram Live video, she claimed she was scared after seeing a security guard posted outside her room, claiming, “There is someone there to attack me if I tried to leave. Now I’m being held hostage.”
The videos, which have since been deleted, caused alarm online and resulted in calls to boycott the Caribbean nation. Eventually, the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica 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.
In a statement posted to her private Instagram account on Sunday (Feb. 14), Collier appeared to rescind her prior insinuation that she had been kidnapped, but still insisted she never lied in her videos.
“I have said a long time ago that I was never missing, nor was I kidnapped,” she wrote, while maintaining that she was harassed by the hotel. “I’ve tried to stay silent because this is something that will be handled legally and because the response to my situation was completely overwhelming.
“To basically make it seem like everything I said was a lie; I am here to say that nothing I said in my [Instagram] live was a lie. These people will say anything to save face,” she said.
Her statement continued, “My family and friends were harassed by numerous trolls and disgusting, sick people on the Internet. I know my truth and I don’t need the approval of anyone on here or anywhere.”
Nevertheless, Collier has been fired from JetBlue over the incident. “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,” said Derek Dombrowski, a spokesperson with JetBlue Airways, in a statement.