Flight delays are the worst, but what’s the worst reason to ground a plane?
Passengers at Newark Liberty International Airport learned the answer to that question on Monday when their United flight was taken out of service due to ants spewing out of a carry-on bag.
Charlotte Burns, another passenger on the flight, documented the situation on Twitter. She said she was on a flight from Venice to New York “when a large, fat ant” walked across her pillow.
“Minutes later, another fat little bug hurries over the television screen,” she tweeted. “Then another one—on my arm! These are bold. I start to feel itchy.”
Burns said she tried to tell the crew but they asked her to wait with her complaint until after the plane took off. She tried to forget about the ants and settle into reading her book until another one crawled across her pillow.
“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),” Burns tweeted.
Burns said she was asked to wait again.
“Until: all of a sudden. I mind. I mind very much. Here’s another bugger dashing—absolutely tearing it!—across the armrest. Where is this ant going? To an ant party? An ant union meeting about bad travel conditions?” she tweeted. “The guy seated across from me in the middle aisle has been on ant watch, it turns out. He says he has seen a parade — a parade!— of six of the in the overhead locker in the seat in front of me.”
A crew member eventually had her leave her seat to wipe it down, and found another ant in the window-well. Another passenger, according to Burns, asked the crew to check the overhead bins. The crew member checked with a flashlight but said he couldn’t find anything. The crew member wouldn’t remove any bags as the passenger who owned them was asleep.
When the bags were finally taken out, ants were found underneath. Ants poured out of the bags.
Burns said ants were “running everywhere” but another passenger asked her if she did “not get ants in New York?” Burns said at this point there was still four hours until they reached their final destination.
Burns said as she was leaving, one crew member asked another if they should take the passenger’s statement. Burns asked if they had a protocol for insects on the plane, to which a crew member said it had never happened before.
The plane was taken out of service in Newark to be cleaned and have the ants exterminated, CBS Philly reported. “The spokesman said the airline notified airport customs and agriculture personnel,” the outlet reported.