A WestJet flight headed to Montego Bay, Jamaica from Toronto had to make a U-turn back to Pearson Airport after Ontario man James Potok announced he had coronavirus mid-flight. Potok refers to himself as an “artist” and a “kid.”
During the flight, a man stood up, told passengers he was recently in China and that he had contracted the coronavirus.
“That announcement was shared by the flight crew to the captain and a decision was made for the plane to return back to Pearson,” Const. Bancroft Wright told the CBC.
On the flight, passengers said they felt concerned for their families.
“We were just over Florida and all of a sudden we felt the plane do a pretty dramatic turn,” Passenger Julie-Anne Broderick told CBC News.
“We were flying in the opposite direction all of a sudden and it said our final destination was back in Toronto. So we were very confused and worried.”
WestJet released in a statement that all protocols for this type of situation were properly followed. Due to the potential for a deadly disease on board, the flight could not land in either the U.S. or the Jamaica.
“I guess this guy thought it was a funny joke but it’s just really weird. We were all very frustrated, to just displace 240 people … it’s just so selfish. We’ve lost a day of our vacation,” says Broderick.
The 29-year-old from Thornhill was arrested and charged with mischief. He is scheduled to appear in court on March 9.
WestJet later apologized to the 243 passengers affected.