JetBlue Airways has fired flight attendant Kalina Collier after she caused an international uproar by doing an hour-long Instagram Live that caused people to believe she was being held in Jamaica against her will. The allegations turned out to be baseless.
“After an investigation, the crewmember in question is no longer with JetBlue. 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,” JetBlue’s corporate communications manager Derek Dombrowski said in a statement.
Dombrowski also apologized to the Jamaican government and people. “We deeply apologize to the people of Jamaica and the Jamaican government for the concern and frustration this incident has caused,” Dombrowski added.
News of Collier’s firing came Tuesday, Feb. 16, a day after the airline suspended her and said it would be launching an investigation into the viral incident—which led to Jamaican authorities getting involved after celebrities like comedian and actress Amanda Seales and many others began to advocate for Collier’s safe release.
During her live video, Collier claimed she was falsely diagnosed with COVID-19 and forced to stay in a “dirty” and “filthy” room with brown water and no key to get out. “If I smile it’s just a coping mechanism. None of this s—t is funny to me. I’m very, very pissed off right now,” Collier said in the opening of her live video.
According to Collier, she arrived in Jamaica on Jan. 28 with two friends and they stayed at Ocean Coral Spring Resort in Trelawny. They were initially due to leave Monday, Feb. 1, but Collier said she was prevented from doing so after testing positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 30.
Collier said the COVID-19 tests she was given were “super janky” and “there’s no way” she tested positive. “You know something in your spirit like when you know something is right or wrong? I knew and I know to this second that I do not have COVID,” Collier continued in the video. “I’m a f—ing flight attendant and I’ve never had COVID.”
Despite her objections, Collier was ordered to quarantine for 14 days by the island’s Ministry of Health and Wellness, according to the Miami Herald. Jamaican officials said they allowed her to stay at her current hotel free of charge and provided her with meals and everything she needed.
But Collier said she was removed from the nice room she and her friends paid to stay in and sent to what she alleges was an extremely unsanitary replacement. Collier said she was “feeling very uneasy” after realizing a security guard had been stationed at her door to prevent her from leaving.
“Now I’m scared because there’s someone there to attack me if I try to leave,” Collier said, adding though her mother was in Jamaica with her, she wasn’t allowed to see her. She went on to detail what she described as a “scary” experience, saying she wanted to go on record because, “God forbid that I’m unable to speak anymore. You guys have this live and you can speak for me.”
The video alarmed many on social media and led them to believe Collier had been kidnaped and was a potential victim of sex trafficking. According to the Jamaica Gleaner, the Jamaican Consulate in New York was bombarded by a nearly 100 percent increase in calls about Collier.
“Our calls went from 2,500 per day to between 4,000 and 5,000 per day,” New York Consul General Alsion Wilson told The Gleaner Monday evening. Jamaican authorities said Collier lied and was never in danger.
As details of the incident continued to surface, many on social media rallied behind the small island nation. “Y’all not gonna do this #KalinaCollier shit today. Stop traveling to these islands in the middle of a pandemic if you feel as though you’re above their rules for testing positive. Cause this is the 60th time y’all started scandals out of your embarrassment. STAY TF HOME THEN,” wrote Twitter user @Moschace.
Collier, however, denied she ever said she was kidnapped or being held against her will.
“I have said a long time ago that I was never missing, nor was I kidnapped. 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,” Collier posted to her Instagram account on Feb. 15 (which she’d previously deleted amid the controversy).
The incident caused the longstanding accusation that Black Americans act just as entitled as those with white privilege when visiting other countries to resurface. “I keep telling yall black Americans are white people when they go to other countries #kalinacollier,” user @Jayy_Kinq tweeted.
“This whole #kalinacollier situation yet again proves my point. African-Americans are still Americans. They have the same mentality as White Americans when dealing with other countries that aren’t America. The only difference is that they aren’t white. I am disgusted,” Twitter user @aavonaly wrote.
However, many Black Americans condemned Collier’s actions and asked not to be lumped into a generic category. “She is not African-American. She is Jamaican American [Collier says she is “from a Jamaican family” in her video]. 2 totally different ethnicities. Please do not bring us African-Americans into this. We already face so much stigma, we don’t need anymore,” @BaddestBasset responded.
After advocating so fiercely on Collier’s behalf, Seales expressed her disgust at the woman’s actions in a follow-up video.
“If y’all don’t cancel Kalina, I can’t with y’all. I was legit concerned,” Seales said. “I don’t know what type of psychosis y’all motherf—ers got that you keep doing this s—t, faking all types of funk, for what?! … She should feel bad about wasting your time, your energy and crying wolf and being a f—ing a—hole.”
Seales added it wasn’t wrong of them to be concerned, but expressed that Collier was wrong for orchestrating such a big hoax. “She was just a really good liar. … She absolutely needs to go f—k herself and get fired,” Seales sang at the conclusion of the video.