The last thing that you want to encounter on your flight is some creepy, crawly, potentially dangerous animal. No, we’re not talking about your seat neighbor who can’t stick to his side of the armrest. We’re talking something right out of Snakes on a Plane: Pythons, scorpions and tarantulas.
We don’t know about you, but the only kind of snake we’re willing to allow on our flight is Britney Spears’ iconic albino Burmese python, Banana, from the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards.
And though encountering one of these creatures seems as unlikely as winding up acting opposite Samuel L. Jackson in a campy movie about deadly snakes who infiltrate aircrafts, the problem is much more common than you think. So now, while you’re worried about whether or not your baggage will be over the limit or how much leg room you’ll have, you can also wonder if there’s a scorpion in your overhead compartment. How fun!
On Dec. 6, 2019, a woman was shocked when she went to the bathroom to investigate a stinging sensation she felt on her leg mid-flight from San Francisco to Atlanta, and a scorpion dropped out of her pant leg. And get this: It was still alive. Don’t worry, it was eventually caught by flight attendants, TMZ reported.
And she’s not the first to be greeted by an unwanted visitor in-air. In April 2017, one man was stung by a scorpion after it fell out of the overhead container, according to Global News Canada. We know that items have a tendency to shift during the flight, but we never imagined that those items would be alive and have the ability to sting us. Richard Bell and his wife, Linda, were on United Airlines flight 1418 from Houston, Texas to Calgary, Canada when a scorpion, about an inch-and-a-half long and honey-colored, fell from the bins above. When he went to touch the arachnid, which he had thrown onto his plate, he was stung. Another passenger on the flight then stepped on the scorpion and it was thrown in a toilet. Bells was just fine after the experience.
In March 2019, a woman on an Air Transat flight from Toronto to Calgary says she was stung by a scorpion while in flight, according to CBC News. Quin Maltais said that it wasn’t until the plane was preparing to land that she felt a strange sensation on her back, and initially ignored it before feeling “piercing pain” in her lower back. She took off her sweater and saw the offending scorpion in her seat. CBC reported that Maltais was escorted off the plane by paramedics who assessed her and concluded she had not sustained any injuries and the scorpion was exterminated.
In May 2017 on another United Airlines flight, another scorpion was spotted. This time, no one was stung by the arachnid, but the flight was grounded, making for some prickly passengers, no doubt! In September 2017, an American Airlines flight was also canceled after reports of seeing a scorpion onboard.
In February 2019, a huge scorpion was spotted crawling out of the overhead bins on a Lion Air flight just as it landed in Indonesia. The creature then scurried away before it could be caught. In a statement to The Daily Mail, a spokesperson for the airline said, “Ground service officers and technicians immediately carried out an in-depth search and thorough handling of the aircraft after the passengers and cargo were removed, but no animals were found.”
But scorpions aren’t the only multi-legged creepy-crawlies that have startled passengers mid-flight. In Sept. 2015, a baboon tarantula escaped from its container (in the cargo hold) on a Delta Air Lines flight, grounding the plane and putting its passengers on another flight. A spokesman for the airline told the Baltimore Sun, that the spider never entered the cabin of the plane.
In April 2016, another critter made its way onto a plane from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and crawled up the leg of a shocked Catherine Moreau, who says she ended up with scratches from the spider, which was one of two on the flight. According to CBC News, passengers panicked and stood on their seats after learning of their tarantula travel buddies. The first tarantula was immediately caught, while the second roamed the plane for a bit before being captured.
And then there are snakes, which Samuel L. Jackson did his best to warn us about.
In 2016, one Aeromexico flight got priority landing after a snake slithered out of the overhead bins. Passengers scrambled to clear the area before the reptile dropped to the floor, where people trapped it with blankets provided by a flight attendant, according to The Guardian. Within 10 minutes, the plane landed in Mexico City and animal control workers came on board to take the sneaky snake into custody.
There are a few cases of snakes actually making it to their destinations before revealing themselves on the plane. In February 2019, a woman flew from Australia to Glasgow with a python stowed away in her shoe. She had been on the flight for so long that the snake even began to shed its skin. She was startled when she came upon the snake while unpacking and immediately called the appropriate authorities.
In Dec. 2012, a Jordanian man smuggled a snake onto an airplane from Cairo to Kuwait, forcing pilots to make an emergency landing in the Egyptian resort town of Al Ghardaqa. The passenger, 48, owned a reptile shop in Kuwait, and was attempting to transport an Egyptian cobra in his carry-on bag. The snake bit his hand while the man was attempting to control it, then began to slither under seats. The flight resumed after the snake was confiscated, according to CNN.
In June 2019, a snake hopped a ride in a man’s bag as he traveled all the way from Florida to Hawaii. The snake, which was a non-venomous southern black racer snake, revealed itself when the man arrived in Maui. It measured about a foot long and 1/4-in. in diameter. The snake made itself known when it slithered out of the bag while the man was unpacking, and was reported to authorities, as snakes are illegal in Hawaii.
We don’t know about you, but:
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