Paul Frishkorn, a resident of Philadelphia The stewardess and the American Airlines union representative died of coronavirus, the union of hostesses confirmed Thursday.
"It is with deep sadness that we report that one of our own … passed away from Covid-19," Lori Bassani, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents 27,000 flight attendants on American Airlines, said in a statement.
Frishkorn, 65, was described as a tireless advocate for the stewardess corps who spent time in the Philadelphia crew room "answering questions and helping our members through this difficult time" before he fell ill, according to the statement.
"Paul is the first of our colleagues to lose his life as a result of this deadly virus. We are deeply saddened and are reminded that there are not too many precautions to be taken during this horrible time," the statement said. "Our hearts go out to Paul's family and loved ones as we mourn the loss of one of our own."
Coronavirus precautions:Southwest, Delta, American Airlines reduce food and beverage services
USA TODAY has contacted American Airlines for further comment.
Talking on the phone to the US TODAY Bassani said Frishkorn's death has raised already deep concern for flight attendants working amid the highly contagious virus.
"When this hits one of their own, it sheds a whole new light on the coronavirus," Bassani said. "This spreads more fear among our ranks. This is a deadly virus, unlike any we have ever experienced."
Tracy Sear, an American Airlines stewardess, said CNN that Frishkorn was a larger-than-life presence who enjoyed figure skating and loved to laugh.
American Airlines announced Tuesday that it is implementing new security measures that will begin on Friday and last until April 3. Airlines will offer "limited" food and beverage options "to provide greater social distancing and minimal contact between flight attendants and customers," the airline said. in a press release
Passengers can now change their seating arrangements to help with social distancing, and airlines will "lock" all seats adjacent to the stewardess's jump seats. For flights of less than four and a half hours, meals and snacks will not be served. Drinks will be available "on demand".
Longer flights will eliminate snacks, but will serve drinks as usual and provide regular meals to passengers in the main cabin. First class passengers will receive their meals on "a tray versus on the courses".