“Aggressive” Tarantulas Get Loose On Flight, Everybody Freaks Out

Image courtesy of puuikibeach

In the latest installment of our Arachnids On A Plane series* comes Spiders On A Plane: 2 Fast 2 Be In The Cabin. It’s the second occasion we’ve heard of spiders, specifically tarantulas, getting loose on a plane. But unlike the previous incident, this time the little suckers were scurrying around in the cabin. Otherwise known as, “where all the passengers sit.”

Passengers were reportedly screaming and standing on the their seats during a recent flight from the Dominican Republic to Montreal, reports The Guardian, while flight attendants told everyone to hide their ankles from two tarantulas roaming freely in the cabin.

Witnesses spotted the fuzzy creatures toward the end of the flight, and it felt their presence even more keenly soon after.

“I was wearing a skirt and a spider crawled up my leg,” one passenger told Radio-Canada. “It was during the meal. My husband managed to catch the spider in a plastic container, but it wriggled its legs out. My daughter was crying, she was in shock.”

Flight attendants appeared to be confused — is there protocol you learn in flight attendant training to deal with crawly creatures? Who knows! — and some were scared to approach the spiders. Because spiders.

The union representing Air Transat flight attendants said the crew tried their best to maintain calm, and instructed them to put their shoes on and cover their ankles.

As for the spiders, one was captured during the flight, but the other eluded its pursuers and skittered around in the plane until the flight landed in Montreal. A federal agent was then able to track it down and trap it.

According to an entomologist who spoke to The Guardian, the spiders were probably a species called Phormictopus cancerides (note: not the spider pictured above), which isn’t venomous, but he says they can be “aggressive,” and frankly, sounds terrifying: they’re anywhere between four and eight inches long, with fangs that can grow longer up to an inch, or possibly more.

It’s unclear how the spiders got loose, but with a demand for live tarantulas as pets, the entomologist speculated that perhaps someone had them in a carry-on.

Air Transat called it an “extraordinary and isolated event,” a spokesperson told The Guardian.

“Passengers who have seen the spiders (we have no confirmation of the species) were certainly surprised, but according to our flight report, they reacted calmly.”

*Because you can’t forget about those scorpions!

Aggressive spiders cause panic on Canada-bound plane [The Guardian]
Spiders spread panic in an Air Transat flight [Radio Canada]