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Tarantula Runs Amok on Delta Flight, Pilot Declares “NOPE”

Tarantula Runs Amok on Delta Flight, Pilot Declares “NOPE”
Jeff Edwards

Every Friday, FlyerTalk looks back at the week’s most charming individuals. While there are always plenty of contenders for our Worst Passenger of the Week award, only one lucky flyer can take home the glory.

Here are the WPotWs for the week of September 20, 2015.

The Runner-Up — The Cellphone Owner Who Wouldn’t Fess Up

When baggage handlers at Edmonton International Airport (YEG) found a cellphone folded in a baby stroller in the cargo hold of Air Canada Flight 1156 Wednesday, they turned the phone over to the cabin crew in order to reunite the device with a presumably grateful passenger. Unfortunately, when no one on the Toronto-bound flight claimed the lost phone, the whole affair turned into a major security incident.

The Airbus A320 was already airborne with 136 passengers onboard when the crew realized that no one, not even the stroller’s owner, would claim the  phone. A decision was then made to divert the flight to Regina International Airport (YQR).

“Much ado about a misplaced phone, it seems,” said Jasmine MacDonnell, a passenger on the flight. “But an ‘electronic device of unknown origin’ is obviously a reason to take precautions.”

AC 1156 was met by police, EMS and members of the airport’s crash response unit when it landed at YEG. The plane was isolated in a remote area of the airport for more than an hour while the case of the unclaimed cellphone was investigated by authorities.

“I can certainly say we did not over-react,” Regina Airport Authority CEO Dick Graham told reporters.


The Winner — The Itsy-Bitsy NOPE

huge spider in ambush

Flight delays and cancelations are an annoyance, but in most cases passengers should be grateful when an airline decides to put safety above on-time performance. Even those of us who don’t suffer from arachnophobia would agree that Delta Air Lines made the right decision Wednesday night when it cancelled Flight 1525 from Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).

Baggage handlers reported discovering a tarantula loose in the cargo hold of the McDonnell Douglas MD-88 while loading passengers’ luggage. Though the at-large-arachnid didn’t at any point make its way into the passenger cabin, the captain made the very reasonable call to declare “nope” and cancel the flight before takeoff.

Passengers made their way to ATL via a spider-free replacement aircraft about three hours behind schedule. The MD-88 containing a giant, hairy spider was taken out of service to be cleaned.

“We have to make the safe decision on that — being bitten by a tarantula is not a good thing,” the pilot later said.

Baltimore is not normally thought of as an hospitable environment for huge tropical creepy-crawlies, but airline officials offered a matter-of-fact, yet chilling, explanation for the eight-legged invasion of the aircraft, telling CNN:

“There was a cargo shipment of insects that was breached.”


[Photos: iStock]

View Comments (3)


  1. Doc Savage

    Doc Savage

    September 26, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Spiders are not “insects,” and a tarantula bite is really not that bad, even if it made its way all the way to the PAX cabin.

  2. weero


    September 26, 2015 at 8:31 am

    “Even those of us who don’t suffer from arachnophobia would agree that Delta Air Lines made the right decision..”

    Grounding an aircraft because there’s a spider in the luggage compartment? If it was in the cockpit and could not be located prior to push back … sure that would warrant a clean up session … but locked up with the bags????

    How low can the threshold for cancelations sink? A rubber ducky on the apron … could that just be ignored?

  3. sethb

    September 28, 2015 at 6:25 am

    And how likely is the spider to survive the hold in flight?

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