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What’s Fair Compensation for Being Covered in Ants on a Flight?

What’s Fair Compensation for Being Covered in Ants on a Flight?
Jennifer Billock

Passengers on a United Airlines flight recently had to face down a bunch of bugs in an ant infestation discovered during a flight from Venice, Italy, to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey; the airline blames the infestation on a passenger’s bag on the flight, but others aren’t so sure.

Travelers heading from Venice to New Jersey made an unsettling discovery on their international United Airlines flight: an ant infestation. It started before takeoff when New York art editor Charlotte Burns saw an ant walking across her pillow, and then across the screen on the seat in front of her. Burns reported the incident to the cabin crew but they didn’t believe her.

But it was really a problem, and Burns live-tweeted about the infestation throughout the flight:

“The nice lady is talking to me and pouring a drink when she shudders: she’s seen an ant, marching across the top of the seat in front. She calls her senior colleague. This is becoming *disruptive* (and in the old-fashioned way before tech people coopted the term)”

A passenger seated in the aisle also saw ants, so he and Burns worked together to control the problem after it was reported to the cabin crew manager.

“Me and the middle aisle guy are standing up like we are the ant enforcers while the senior cabin crew guy rocks up, armed with… a flashlight and a wet cloth,” Burns tweeted. “Sure, ant-mageddon might be undone with a lemony rag, why not.”

Both Burns and the aisle passenger had their seats removed and wiped down, but the problem ended up being another passenger’s bag—it wasn’t zipped all the way in the overhead bin and ants appeared to be streaming out of it.

“The guy in front pulls down his case (which btw isn’t zipped shut, as middle aisle guy notes to me in an aside) and ants ants ants spill out, running in every which direction. This is absolutely heeby-jeeby-goose-bumpy-get-me-a-gin-gross,” Burns tweeted.

United replied to the incident with a statement: “We are concerned by the experience our customer reported on United flight 169 from Venice to Newark,” the airline told the USA TODAY Network. “We have been in contact with the crew and they have advised the ants have been isolated from a customer’s bag. At this time, the aircraft will continue to its final destination. We will be taking the aircraft out of service when it arrives in Newark.”

And they did; the plane was removed for service soon after it landed. Burns wasn’t fully satisfied with the airline’s response of trying to blame the problem on another passenger, though.

[Featured Image: Shutterstock]

View Comments (5)

5 Comments

  1. 84fiero

    June 24, 2019 at 4:56 am

    Mr. Ants-in-My-Eyes Johnson wouldn’t be demanding ANY compensation. He also has some great prices on toasters.

  2. IBobi

    IBobi

    June 24, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    I get to cover the airline employee of my choosing in ants.

  3. Rukes

    June 24, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    She says in her story the ants came from another passengers bag, she admit’s it’s the other passengers fault. Then probably talking to a lawyer and trying to move the story to the more lucrative “it’s the airline’s fault” she tries to change her narrative.

    Literally what is United’s fault in this? If anything it’s probably TSA for not noticing a swarm of bugs in the carry on screening.

  4. lordlucan

    June 24, 2019 at 11:39 pm

    No TSA in Venice.

  5. JakeRobertson212

    June 25, 2019 at 3:48 am

    @Rukes

    The flight was VCE-EWR.. how would the TSA be involved?

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