Bringing up topics such as bombs and explosions, including those told in a jovial manner, usually results in extra scrutiny on travelers from airport authorities. However, thanks to recent health scares, the Ebola virus may be on that list of banned topics to mention at the airport too.
Authorities boarded a US Airways flight Wednesday from Philadelphia to the Dominican Republic due to a possible health issue, confirmed Huffington Post. A hazmat team removed a passenger, checked him with medical personnel, and later cleared him of having the Ebola virus.
"It's going to look worse than it is," a flight attendant said in a YouTube video capturing the incident. "I've done this for 36 years. I think the man who said this is an idiot."
Authorities took no chances when the unidentified American passenger started yelling out "I've been to Africa!" and "I have Ebola!" in a joking manner. According to Fox News Latino, his shouting caused major concern and panic among the passengers and crew, in part due to the Ebola outbreak happening in West Africa that has claimed roughly 4,000 lives.
According to Reuters, a fellow passenger heard the man's comment and informed a flight attendant, who later alerted the plane's captain. This prompted emergency personnel at the Punta Cana International Airport to wear blue hazmat suits and escort the passenger to the medical center for tests, where medics verified that he did not have any symptoms related to Ebola.
"We are following the direction of, and strictly adhering to, all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in place for airlines in response to the Ebola virus," Joshua Freed, a spokesman for US Airways, said in a statement.
Dominican Republic officials investigated the flight and later cleared the aircraft, US Airways noted. According to the description in the YouTube video capturing the incident, the passengers on US Airways flight 845 were not allowed to leave the plane until two hours after landing.
"We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, but the safety of our customers and crews is our main priority," US Airways said in a statement.
Paola Rainieri, vice president of marketing and communications for Grupo Punta Cana, told Fox News Latino that the airport only allowed the passengers to leave the plane after officials determined that they were not at risk for Ebola infection. She also thought the passenger's joke was "of poor taste."
"We don't know why he did it, but he thought it would be a cute joke that would not be so serious," Rainieri said. "Thankfully it was only a scare."