A passenger joking that he had the Ebola virus while on a US flight to the Dominican Republic caused fear to break out on the plane and earned him an escort from the aircraft by people in hazardous materials suits, media reports said.
The 54-year-old man said he was infected with the often deadly haemorrhagic fever Wednesday while on a US Airways flight from Philadelphia to Punta Cana.
"I was just kidding," he said in videos posted on social media as he was led off the plane by local health officials decked out in blue protective suits and breathing apparatuses.
Instead of spending a two-week vacation in the Dominican Republic as he had planned, the man was sent back Thursday to the United States, an airport official told the local newspaper Diario Libre.
Tests showed he did not have the virus, but his statement on the flight caused anxiety and indignation among the more than 200 passengers and crew members on board.
"I think the man that has said this is an idiot, and I'll say that straight out, and if you hear me that's fine," a flight attendant announced to those on board before the man was escorted off the plane.