Instagrammer Caused a Plane to Do an Emergency Landing by Shouting He Had Coronavirus

Trying to create a viral video, the influencer instead grounded a plane full of angry and worried passengers.
Fabienne Lang
James Potok with a mask and gloves on in the airplanecashframes/Facebook

Here's a new way to gain instant publicity: shout out that you have been to the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, while you're on a plane in midair. 

An Instagrammer who goes by the name of Potok Philippe, who's real name is James Potok, did exactly that on WestJet flight WS 2702 from Toronto, Canada, bound for Jamaica. The flight had to turn around after two hours and land back in Toronto.

The other 243 passengers on board were less than pleased, to say the least. 


What happened?

The 28-year-old man in question stood up on the plane and shouted out "Can I get everybody's attention, please? I just came back from Hunan province, the capital of the coronavirus. I'm not feeling too well. Thank you." Then proceeded to sit back down again. 

Aside from the glaringly obvious fact that Potok Philippe needs to pick up literally any newspaper because the coronavirus' "capital" is in Hubei province — not Hunan —, the Instagrammer managed to create havoc amid the other unsuspecting passengers. 

He later said "it was just a joke," and admitted that he had wanted to create a viral video (hence the camera in his hand during his airborne speech). 

The coronavirus is no joke, however, as it has already caused more than 400 fatalities and infected over 20,000 worldwide.

Not taking the matter lightly, airline staff gave him gloves and a face mask and later escorted him off the plane where local authorities arrested and charged him with mischief once the plane was back on Canadian ground. 

The aspiring social media influencer and musician, who has over 34,000 Instagram followers, did end up seeing his foolishness, as he stated "I'm very, very sorry for my ignorance and not understanding that it's an epidemic, that people hear the word and its become synonymous with threats."

Most Popular

"In retrospect, it probably wasn't the best thing to do," he added.

To try and not recreate such an unnecessary debacle, stay up to date by reading the latest updates on the coronavirus here

message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron