LISTEN: "My intent was never to invoke fear" - artist who joked of coronavirus on plane speaks out

Airplane

James Potok thought it would be hilarious to joke about coronavirus on a plane full of vacationers on their way to Jamaica from Toronto.

He thought poorly. 

"I'm normally a pretty smart guy, I don't make stupid decisions like this," the 28-year-old told NEWSTALK1010. "I definitely learned my lesson." 

The aspiring musician thought it would be funny when he got up on the flight, pulled out his phone and recorded a prank hoping it would go viral. 

During the flight, stood up and asked for everyone's attention and said he had just recently come back from Hunan province and wasn't feeling well. 

That got the attention of the entire flight staff who followed protocol and the flight was turned around to Toronto, where Potok now faces a mischief charge. 

"I ruined some 250 people's travel plans, I set WestJet back a fortune, I'm completely apologetic," he said. "It wasn't the smartest thing to do, it might've been done in bad taste, I apologize to everybody who was scared." 

As for what motivated him, he said it was for the publicity. 

"In our industry, there's no such thing as bad publicity," he said, adding however that he thought turning the flight back was an overreaction. 

With files from James Moore.