Pack of Rats Grounds Air India Flight


Air India had to ground an Airbus A-321 on Monday after a pack of rats was seen running around the economy seating in the rear of the cabin. The aircraft had just landed at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) from Kolkata in West Bengal. As soon as the passengers disembarked, the plane was taken to a remote area for fumigation.

“Rats on board an aircraft can lead to a catastrophe if they start chewing up electric wires,” a senior commander told The Times of India.

Apparently, rodents like the serendipitous bits of in-flight meals that get dropped on the cabin floor. The prevailing thought is that rats board aircraft by hitching a ride on catering trucks.

“This is a universal phenomenon,” an official said. “Rats follow the large storage cases in which food trays are kept. The catering vans are like a home for them as food keeps getting dropped. Rats get on the high lifts that take those storage cases to aircraft and then remain there. This happens across the world.”

And they’re probably right.

Over the years, there have been hordes of stories about rats on commercial aircraft. In 2011, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a strongly worded warning to Delta Air Lines, stating that inspectors had found “the presence of rodent excreta pellets and rodent urine stains” near the food prep and storage areas of one of the carrier’s planes on the ground in Atlanta.

The FDA also found droppings “too numerous to count” in the galley and overhead bin areas. In response, Delta issued a statement saying they had “established a routine servicing program to inspect our aircraft.”

But it’s not just rats.

Also in 2011, British Airways grounded two 747s after bed bugs feasted on a passenger during a flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to London Heathrow Airport (LHR). The passenger, Zane Selkirk, claimed she had a similar experience on another BA flight from Bengaluru International Airport (BLR) to LHR. She setup a website to broadcast her ordeal.

In response to the website, BA confirmed bugs were found on the LAX — LHR aircraft. A spokesman for the airline said they had not discovered any evidence of infestation on the BLR — LHR flight. BA fumigated the infested aircraft before it was put back into service.

There have been reports of bug beds on other airlines, but in fairness, it should be noted that the creepy crawlers probably got there via passengers’ carry-on bags.

Last October, 11 rats were found nesting under a business-class seat in a plane arriving from Hong Kong at southeast Xiamen Gaoqui International Airport (XMN). Authorities said that was the most rats they had ever detected on an inbound plane.

There are plenty more stories from recent history. In 2010, an Air Canada flight to LHR from Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport (YOW) was waiting to taxi down the runway when a passenger spotted a rat in an overhead locker. The captain of the 767 ordered all 205 passengers off the plane and they spent the night in an airport hotel. The rat was never found.

And what about those scores of rats on the Air India flight this week? A spokesperson for the airline refuted the report, telling The Wall Street Journal that “only a single rodent was sighted aboard.”

[Photo: iStock]


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Comments (Showing 1 of 1)

  • fotographer at 12:06pm August 07, 2014

    forget snakes on a plane.. I would go see “rats on a plane”

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