Flight Diverts After Man Jokes About Having Coronavirus

Filed Under: WestJet

A Canadian man has been arrested after joking about having the Wuhan coronavirus on a plane.

Monday’s WestJet flight 2702 from Toronto to Montego Bay, Jamaica, returned to Toronto after a man claimed to be feeling unwell after having just returned from China. At some point during the flight, the man stood up and announced:

“I just came back from Hunan province, the capital of the coronavirus…I’m not feeling too well. Thank you.”

Never mind the fact that Wuhan is in the Hubei province, but…

At that point the crew followed standard infectious-disease protocols “out of an abundance of caution,” and the flight ended up returning to Toronto.

By the time the plane turned around it was already just south of the border between Georgia and Florida, so in total the plane was in the air for over four hours. That’s roughly the same as the usual flight time for this route. Suffice to say that this inconvenienced all 243 passengers onboard.

The passenger was inspected medically, and was found to be free of symptoms. He has been charged criminally, and he has a court case on March 9.

What was the guy’s motive?

“I’m an artist. Any publicity for myself is good publicity.

I had my camera with me — I was looking to get a viral video. I was looking to get it up on all the social-media platforms. I figured it would invoke some kind of reaction — not on the plane, more people seeing on social media going, ‘wow, this kid’s got some balls,’ or, ‘this kid is crazy,’ whatever it is.”

The man says that on a previous flight he got up and made a similar announcement, except he simply said that Lil Wayne’s new album dropped, and that everyone should get it. Passengers had no problem with it, and the plane landed without incident.

Yet somehow he doesn’t see the difference between that and suggesting to other passengers that he has the coronavirus. The man admits that what he did was wrong, though still doesn’t appear particularly remorseful.

Here’s an interview with the passenger:

I hope the guys get a serious fine or some jail time for this.

Given the latest information on the coronavirus situation, my thinking changed, and I ultimately canceled my flight through Beijing. For more on the rapidly-developing situation, check out these posts:

  1. Saying that Hunan Province is the “capital of the corona virus” is like saying the Kansas City Chiefs are from Kansas. Close, but off by one state/province.

  2. Moron. He made a threat and absolutely no difference between this and using the b- word. He should be prosecuted , banned and fined for the diversion costs

  3. Such a foolish and inconsiderate thing to do.

    In other news it is being reported that one of David Cameron’s protection officers left his handgun next to the sink on a BA flight from JFK-LHR this week, sparking a huge panic on board. Would have been such a stressful situation for the passenger who discovered it.

  4. If he wanted this video to go viral he could’ve stood up, say something non-coronavirus related and dub the stupid non-funny comment in post. He’d have to get the tone and aircraft interior ambient noise right, but it seems this guy isn’t that skilled as an artist or otherwise.

  5. Shouting that Lil Wayne got a new album and you should buy it, and you got the coronavirus are two totally difference things. How can he possibly think they are comparable?

  6. What a moron. He should be:

    * Fined and/or put in prison
    * Required to pay Westjet every penny the diversion cost
    * Pay all the passengers for their lost time
    * Pay to plant enough trees to offset the extra carbon dioxide this resulted in – or, better yet, forced to plant the trees himself, and
    * Banned from every airline on the planet.

  7. Artist? pfft.
    ‘wow, this kid’s got some balls’

    How about 243 days of community service at one of the hospitals in Wuhan without protective clothing or mask.

    Then we shall recognize him as a performance artist with some balls.

    In fact, he should be sentenced to exactly that.

  8. The plane should have landed in Atlanta where he would have been screen at one of the testing centers. Then he should have been subsequently put on the No Fly List.

    I hope he enjoys Greyhound.

  9. This man should have been put in isolation for 14 days as a precaution and at his expense in addition to having to appear in court.

  10. While the decision to turn around so close to destination is annoying, it was the correct one.

    Jamaica is a wonderful place but MBJ is a bureaucratically painful experience. A mass health emergency on arrival would paralyze the airport and might be beyond their capabilities to handle.

    MBJ passport lines are 60-90 min when it’s quiet – perhaps a few minutes less if you use the kiosks, but these machines are idiot and still require examination of you and your documents by an immigration office who will process you at slothlike speed.

    During some flu outbreak 10 years ago I remember being stuck in MBJ port health for an extra 75 minutes simply so someone could review a form confirming I was nowhere near an outbreak and wasn’t feeling ill. In other words, no way they could handle 150+ possible exposures to Corona.

    MIA/ATL diversion would have been equally problematic for immigration reasons too…

  11. Should have just stood up and said “I’m a dick”
    Hope he gets hit with lawsuit for full cost WestJet incurred….then he’ll rethink the value of ‘any’ publicity!

  12. What a moron! Oh, BTW, [email protected]$$, here’s the bill for diverting the plane back to Toronto for your shear stupidity!

    That guy is lucky he didn’t get beaten within 6 inches of his life by the rest of the passengers!

  13. “It’s just a prank, bro. Calm down! We’re just filming a social experiment! There’s a camera right there.”

    I think this guy mistakenly believes that all those prank (“social experiment”) videos are all completed scripted. OckTV / Moe & Ethan Bradberry, Joey Salads, Prank Invasion, Logan Paul, etc. All that stuff is not real.

    Sometimes I really worry about our new-age content slinging economy has eroded our media literacy. Views and clicks are all that counts. It doesn’t matter how stupid we get or how warped our perception of reality has become.

  14. What a complete idiot. I hope he gets some jail time, and that they remove certain body parts before he breeds and propagates his stupidity.

  15. How did authorities know it was a joke.

    When you use the B-word. You sweep the whole plane, evacuate the whole terminal.

    Same logic should be everyone place in quarantine for few days until this person tests negative.

    While this idiot should get the cavity search every few hours because there could be traces of the virus deep inside his rectum waiting to spread.

  16. This man lives in the same city as me. He was interviewed by another TV station in front of a grocery store I frequent.

    This guy is a neighbour.

    How embarrassing is that?

  17. Isn’t crew instructed to take body temperature readings of “suspects”? There is no instruction to divert planes because of suspected infection. Inform the destination airport to be ready, that’s all.

  18. Stupid guy , trying to get exposure , well he got it !!
    This virus is more dangerous than many think , we had a trip planned to Bangkok, Hong Kong , Malaysia and Vietnam .
    Arrive in Thailand 2 weeks ago and cancelled the rest of the trip and now relaxing in the countryside near Hua Hin until we return to Europe . We are lucky, we are retired

  19. no, not an artist. just insane. the Jamaicans should ban him from ever entering their country again. making jokes about endangering their lives is deranged.

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