On a flight that typically lasts more than nine hours, passengers saw ants crawling across their seats, windows, TV screens, and felt them on their bodies. One passenger on the United Airlines flight from Venice, Italy, to Newark, New Jersey, tweeted the harrowing experience, which she claims lasted from taxiing on the runway to landing.
On the plane from Venice to New York when a large, fat ant walks over my pillow. Hmmm. That's odd.— charlotte burns (@charlieburns) June 17, 2019
Charlotte Burns, on board United flight 169, described her discovery just before take off when she noticed a number of ants crawling around her. “I start to feel itchy,” she wrote. “I tell the staff: they ask if I can wait until after the plane takes off? We’re taxiing. Umm, ok, sure.”
During drink service, a flight attendant also noticed the less-than-welcome amount of ants. “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*... Problem is, it’s time for the meal service. Would I mind waiting? Umm, ok sure,” Burns, executive editor of In Other Words at Art Agency, shared.
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?— charlotte burns (@charlieburns) June 17, 2019
Eventually, a fellow passenger informed Burns that he had seen a “parade” of ants on the overhead luggage compartment. Crew members wiped down Burns’ seat with a wet cloth in an attempt to remove the ants, when she and her fellow passenger asked them to check the overhead bin.
The cabin guy does the flashlight thing again in the overhead locker and says, I can't see anything. Me and middle aisle guy say please take the bags out and check beneath. He does. ANTS! Ants lie beneath.— charlotte burns (@charlieburns) June 17, 2019
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— charlotte burns (@charlieburns) June 17, 2019
“The guy in front pulls down his case... and ants ants ants spill out, running in every which direction,” Burns described.
United Airlines confirmed the incident in a statement provided to Yahoo Lifestyle which read, “We are concerned by the experience our customer reported on United flight 169 from Venice to Newark. 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.”
The plane landed in Newark at 2:18 p.m. local time.
At one point during the flight, Burns seemed to accept her fate. “This is my new normal,” she tweeted. “I live here now. Me and the ants.”
United Airlines provided a follow up statement, which read in part, “We had been in contact with the crew during the flight, where they advised the ants were isolated from a customer’s bag in the overhead bin, and was contained to a limited area of the cabin. The airplane landed at Newark this afternoon and has be taken out of service for extermination. We followed proper protocol by notifying customs, immigration, as well as agriculture of the issue.”
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