It all began after a fellow passenger sneezed and then allegedly said: “I have Ebola. You’re all screwed.” The man sneezed on an airplane and then allegedly joked to seatmates that he had Ebola caused a scare on a US Airways flight Wednesday.
US Airways Flight 845 from Philadelphia was greeted with a hazmat team and inspected by local health officials when it arrived in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, according to reports. A spokesman for American Airlines, which now includes merger partner US Airways, acknowledged the plane was inspected on arrival “due to a possible health issue on board.”
Another passenger notified a flight attendant, who alerted the captain. The carrier then followed protocol for such a situation, which – in this case – forced the plane to be halted on the tarmac so that a four-person hazmat crew could inspect the plane.
A passenger’s video captured the fallout that ensued from the joke.
“It’s going to look worse than it is,” a flight attendant can be heard telling passengers via the aircraft’s PA system. “I’ve done this for 36 years. I think the man that has said this is an idiot, and I’ll say that straight out. If you hear me that’s fine.”
The hazmat crew climbed on board, moving down the aisle in plastic suits with breathing apparatuses hiding their faces. People pulled out cellphones to capture the scene. A child squealed in the background.
As the health crews got to the joking passenger, he can be heard on the video saying: “I was just kidding. I ain’t from Africa.”
Passengers were booing when the man was eventually escorted off the flight.