Flight Forced Into Emergency Landing After Prankster Claims To Have Coronavirus

AvatarHannah Humphreys in News, World
Published 06.02.20

It seems some idiots will go to great lengths to become internet-famous – even at the expense of others.

28-year old James Potok was travelling on a flight between Toronto and Jamaica when he decided that he would announce to the entire plane he was infected with coronavirus – causing the plane to make a return to the airport it had taken off from just hours earlier.

As you can imagine this caused serious problems for the airline on which he was travelling and major disruption for pilot and passengers alike, resulting in the guy talking himself into a pair of handcuffs and escorted off the plane.

The aspiring musician, who has more than 30,000 Instagram followers, says it was “simply a joke” but understandably that hasn’t gone down well with all those who had their flight interrupted.

At the time of the incident, the WestJet Airlines flight was almost half way to its destination – somewhere over Florida.

At this point Potok explains he “stood up [and] pulled [his] video camera out” saying he was going to post what happened next to Instagram in hope it would go viral.

“I looked around, I said ‘can I get everybody’s attention please’ and… I followed up by saying, word-for-word, I said, ‘I just came back from Hunan province, the capital of coronavirus… I’m not feeling too well. Thank you’”.

What an absolute bell-end.

You can only imagine passenger horror when you’re mid-flight, in closely confined quarters and some joker is proclaiming to be infected with a ‘deadly’ virus.

Potok admits no-one laughed at the time.

What did he expect a round of applause?!

In fact, crew began putting on face masks, even making sure Potok himself had a mask and gloves on in line with protocol.

After the flight had returned to Pearson airport, other passengers booed the prankster as he was being led off the plane to face charges.

Potok was arrested and charged with mischief, as well as breach of recognisance after it was confirmed by medical staff that he was not actually suffering with the virus.

Potok says: “In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best thing to do” but insists it was “good for publicity”.

“It would be something else if I said, ‘Hey guys, I have a bomb strapped to me’”, he explains.

“People blew it out of proportion”, he adds.

Yeah, not only did you make a mockery of all those currently infected with the virus but also those who have died.

You also wasted the airline’s time and resources alongside that of the 243 passengers who no doubt had places to be.

Just think about the added carbon miles.

A statement released by WestJet said: “Out of an abundance of caution, our crew followed all protocols for infectious disease on board, including sequestering an individual who made an unfounded claim regarding coronavirus”.

“Due to the involvement of law enforcement, as well as the privacy of our guests, we are not able to provide additional information about the incident at this time”.

Potok is expected to appear in court on March 9th and has apologised to his fellow passengers in a recent video interview with Global News. 

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