Coronavirus Hoax Forces Westjet 767 Back To Toronto Over Florida

On February 3rd, a WestJet flight from Toronto, Canada to Montego Bay, Jamaica was over Florida when the crew decided to divert back to Toronto. The reason? A man stood up during the flight and claimed to have contracted the novel coronavirus after having recently been to China.

WestJet 767
The flight was operated using a Boeing 767-300. Photo: BriYYZ via Wikimedia Commons

What happened

Approximately two hours into WestJet flight WS2702 from Toronto to Montego Bay, Jamaica, a man stood up and announced that he was recently in China and had contracted coronavirus.

According to the CBC, the announcement was shared with the cockpit, and the decision was then made to return back to Toronto Pearson International Airport. Speaking with the CBC, a passenger onboard said the following about her experience:

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“We were just over Florida and all of a sudden we felt the plane do a pretty dramatic turn…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.” – Julie-Anne Broderick

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Broderick says that the man was seen taking a selfie, telling passengers around him about his condition. She continues by saying that flight attendants then gave him a mask and gloves and instructed him to move to the back of the plane.

Returning to Toronto

The flight path of WestJet 2702, turning around over Florida and returning to Toronto. Photo: FlightRadar24

The captain informed passengers that, because of the situation, they were unable to land in Jamaica or the United States. The only option would be to return to Toronto. The captain reportedly informed passengers that he suspected that it was a hoax.

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The plane landed back in Toronto at approximately 2:10 p.m. local time. Simple Flying contacted WestJet for comment and the airline provided us with this statement:

Law enforcement and EMS personnel were requested to meet the flight upon arrival in Toronto. 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.” – WestJet spokesperson

Ruining plans of nearly 500 travelers

Reports indicate that there were 243 passengers on board the flight – passengers who had their winter vacation plans disrupted. The situation is made even worse as there were probably just as many travelers waiting in Montego Bay for that same aircraft to take them back to Canada.

WestJet said that all of the affected travelers were moved to an extra flight. The same aircraft flew as WS4100, departing Toronto this morning, landing in Montego Bay just moments ago.

WestJet has four Boeing 767-300ERs, once operated by Qantas. Photo: Gatwick Airport

Conclusion

According to CTV News, police have confirmed that a 29-year-old man from Thornhill, Ontario was arrested and faces mischief charges. In fact, he is scheduled to appear in court on March 9th.

In conclusion, the hoax will have cost WestJet a great deal of time and money as it manages the hundreds of passengers affected.

What do you think should be the penalty for the troublemaker? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment!

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Joe Capriani

Do what other airlines are doing collect from the Clown every single penny this disruption cost to WestJet. Idiots like this one need to learn a hard lesson

Gerry S

Why do people do this? What was in this for him? Is it true that altitude affects some peoples brains? I believe so. It makes them stupid. So many strange in-air events. And every time fellow passengers get s*****d. This clown should be "volunteered" for service to China to assist… Read more »

Annoyed Person

The man should have to reimburse all extra costs paid by the airline and any extra costs incurred by passengers as well as remunerate passengers for vacation time lost.

Unbelievable that a 29 year old could be so stupid.

michael scott

We should give him a one-way ticket to Montego Bay. Where they keep all the Al Qaeda.

Rich

Repay every dime. Exile to Wuhan.

John Salvatore

make him pay for everyone’s flight!!! what a j**k

Ernest Phelps

Never be allowed to fly in any commetcial aviation plane.

Art Ramos

Wow. Poor judgment from this dude. Yes …you get publicity for your social media and gain notoriety/Fame or whatever it is you were trying to achieve. The only problem now is you won’t be able to fly any airline thanks to your publicity stunt. I guess we are all not… Read more »

Gary

What an idiot ! Embicle. Must be some mental health issue with this guy to do what he’s done. In my opinion there should be a 6month jail time, not any sooner ,sentencing imposed for this type of inappropriate behaviour.Should not be taken lightly.And he should have a hefty financial… Read more »

d black

This j**k needs to be given a lesson. Penalty should be multiple, jail time, listed as a person on “No Fly ” listings worldwide as well as full compensation to all persons and companies disrupted or including Westjet and all passengers on outbound and inbound returns. People and courts must… Read more »

Clinton clark

What an idiot. Make him pay as much as the poor p***k can go to court put him in the lock up or get him to be mentally checked out what a nutter. Ban him flying commercial ever again hes a waist of peopls spaceno excuses.

George Lavinscas

He should have to reimburse the passengers and west jet. That will teach the jerks looking to make money on viral videos .

Susan Pollonetsky

The person who perpetrated the hoax should be fined substantially for ruining the vacation plans of so many and creating potential mass panic..where the real problem is so potentially catastrophic. By rights he should have to compensate the airline and fellow travellers for his reckless endangerment. He should be barred… Read more »