Let’s hope this doesn’t become a trend, but four flights have been delayed and at least one unlucky passenger has been stung by a fare-dodging scorpion this year. At least the Syfy channel has more than enough material for a series of creature features.
As recently as September 10, American Airlines Flight 2672 in Sacramento was getting ready to head out to Chicago, when a crewmember discovered a scorpion on the plane. The good news, in this case, was that the passengers were all rebooked, the plane was flown to Dallas to be fumigated for safe measure, and most importantly, no one was stung.
The fate of that individual scorpion is unknown, but it is believed that the arachnid ended up onboard when the plane touched down in Phoenix earlier that day.
An EasyJet flight that was set to fly from Paris to Glasgow was delayed overnight on September 4, when a passenger found a scorpion while boarding. Again, no one was stung, the plane was fumigated that night, and EasyJet released a statement regarding the incident:
We can confirm that a passenger reported to crew that a scorpion was on board. The safety and comfort of our passengers and crew is always our highest priority so, as a precaution, the aircraft will be fumigated before its next flight. Although this is outside of our control, we would like apologize for any inconvenience to passengers.
Passengers were also notified about the hazardous hitchhiker via the official EasyJet app:
— Graham Mckinnon (@GrahamMckinnon) September 4, 2017
Meanwhile, on May 12, a flight was preparing to take off from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport to Panama, when a scorpion was found climbing out from a passenger’s clothing. Once again, this scorpion didn’t sting anyone, the plane was returned to the gate, and everyone was transferred to another plane after a three-hour delay; but at least the customers were given a free meal voucher as compensation for the creepy situation.
Finally, do you remember when United Airlines had a particularly bad day when a video emerged that showed a passenger being dragged off of an overbooked flight on April 11? In addition to that PR nightmare, a scorpion stung a customer while airborne on the same day.
Richard and Linda Bell were flying from Houston to Calgary when a scorpion fell onto his head from the overhead compartment as they were eating their mid-flight lunch. “My husband felt something in his hair,” Mrs. Bell said. “He grabbed it out of his hair and it fell onto his dinner table. As he was grabbing it by the tail it stung him.”
Ow! Richard then threw the scorpion into the aisle, where flight attendants quickly captured the venomous creature and flushed it down the plane’s toilet. A medical team was waiting to treat him as the plane landed in Canada, and while we don’t know exactly where the scorpion came from, the aircraft had been in Costa Rica earlier that day. Thankfully, he wasn’t allergic to the painful sting, and they were compensated for the incident by the airline.
All scorpions are venomous, but the good news is that the sting of most scorpions is comparable to a bee sting. Perhaps the most dangerous scorpion species on Earth is found throughout arid regions of the Middle East and Africa: the fattail scorpion. The incredibly powerful neurotoxin in a fattail scorpion’s venom takes the lives of a few people in the region each year.
Scorpions aren’t the only animals that have been known to cause a commotion while flying. In one particularly grim event in 2010, a plane crashed because a crocodile escaped from a bag in the air over the Democratic Republic of Congo. A man was likely smuggling the crocodile out of the country in a sports bag, and when passengers found the croc wandering around the cabin, the ensuing panicked stampede ended up taking down the small plane. Nineteen passengers, crewmembers, and the pilot were all killed in the crash, and its only survivors were a lone passenger who told the strange tale to investigators. The two- or three-foot-long crocodile also survived. The crocodile was killed with a machete shortly afterward to keep first responders safe as they sorted through the wreckage.
In another unusual story, a woman had a terrifying surprise during her flight from the Dominican Republic to Montreal — a huge tarantula began crawling up her leg. Although her husband managed to trap the spider in a plastic container, a second tarantula was spotted shortly afterward wandering the cabin, and flight attendants were unable to capture it until the plane landed in Canada. The prevailing theory is that the pair of large tarantulas were likely smuggled in by someone intending to sell the pair as pets. No one was bitten by the two aggressive tarantulas, but I’ll bet that passengers triple-checked their luggage after departing from that flight!