Time and again we’ve reported on incidents in which an unruly passenger diverts a plane. But what about an unruly insect? Apparently it’s possible, as Allegiant Airlines says a recent flight had to make an unscheduled landing because of an unticketed wasp.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that an Allegiant flight from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Niagara Falls, NY, was diverted to Orlando on Thursday after a wasp crawled into a sensor on the aircraft.
A spokesperson for the airline says the flight – which had 159 passengers on board – was diverted shortly after takeoff.
She says the disruptive wasp wasn’t actually enough to cause the diversion and it never endangered the plane.
But, because the airline doesn’t have mechanics at the Niagara Falls airport, it was determined the best course of action was to fix the sensor in Orlando.
“The feeling was that if we were to take the aircraft to Niagara Falls and for some reason it needed to have maintenance done, that would create a pretty significant delay for our passengers while we got contract maintenance out to the airport,” she tells the Tampa Bay Times.
Had a longer delay occurred in Niagara Falls, it would have caused a domino effect, essentially delaying other flights around the country.
While Allegiant didn’t provide additional information on what the affected sensor actually does, it did say that once mechanics got to the device the wasp had already begun to make a nest.
“It turns out … this happens from time to time in Florida,” she said. “It was an easy fix.”
Once the passengers landed in Orlando they were placed on another flight, landing in Niagara Falls about two hours behind schedule.
Thursday’s incident comes just days after pilots for Allegiant sent a letter to shareholders expressing concerns that the airline cuts corners when it comes to the safety of aircraft and passengers.